White Sox

Bulls Draft: Small forward breakdown

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Bulls Draft: Small forward breakdown

Luol Deng was asked to shoulder a heavy load during Derrick Rose's injury-plagued 2011-12 season, and the veteran responded. He was named to the All Star team for the first time and was also named as a second team All-Defense member. He continued his improvement on the perimeter, played lockdown defense and acted as the Bulls go-to scorer in the 27 regular season games Rose missed.
Brewer was technically pegged in as the starting shooting guard 38 games this year, but his role was just as much on the wing as a forward as it was as a guard. He played well as a defensive stopper, but struggled offensively.
Last year's first round draft pick Jimmy Butler played a similar role to Brewer, but was stuck behind Deng, Brewer and Korver in the rotation.
BULLS HISTORY
Since 2000, the Bulls have made 29 draft selections. They spent five of those selections on samll forwards: 2001: Trenton Hassell (Austin Peay), Sean Lampley (California); 2006: Rodney Carney (Memphis); 2009: James Johnson (Wake Forest); 2011: Jimmy Butler (Marquette)
WHAT THE BULLS NEED IN A SMALL FORWARD
Should Deng stay in Chicago, the Bulls have a scorer on the wing for the foreseeable future. But it wouldn't hurt to add another scorer to the second unit, especially when Deng sits post-wrist surgery. Butler and Brewer bring defensive intensity, so looking for someone who can score and has a little size to go with it would help give a balance to go with Butler.
TOP 11 2012 DRAFT PROSPECTS

1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky -- His only real weakness is an inconsistent jump shot, but he is one of the best defenders in the entire draft and has excellent size.
2. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina -- The ACC's third leading scorer last year has impressive size and can play multiple positions at the next level.
3. Moe Harkless, St. John's -- Despite being quite raw as a prospect, Harkless has as much upside as any small forward in this year's class.
4. Royce White, Iowa State -- Questions about his anxiety have all but vanished, and his stock has increased from a borderline first round pick to a potential lottery pick.
5. Quincy Miller, Baylor -- A torn ACL his senior year of high school set him back, but Miller still has plenty of upside and could be a steal in the first round.
6. Draymond Green, Michigan State -- He isn't the quickest player in the draft, but the 6-foot-8 Green can shoot, rebound, pass and dribble.
7. Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt -- The 6-foot-7 wing shot better than 49 percent in three of his four seasons with the Commodores, and is an above average rebounder and defender.
8. Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech -- The little-known prospect averaged 21.1 points and shot better than 41 percent from beyond the arc in his senior season.
9. Kevin Jones, West Virginia -- The runner-up to Jae Crowder for Big East Player of the Year, Jones averaged a double-double (20.1 points, 11.1 rebounds) and shot 50.9 percent from the field.
10. Darius Miller, Kentucky -- The sixth man on Kentucky's national championship team, Miller brings veteran leadership and an above average outside shot to the table.
11. Jae Crowder, Marquette -- Crowder doesn't have a real position, but his ability to rebound and shoot from outside should find him a roster spot.
ANALYSIS
Rumors of the Bulls looking to trade into the lottery have stemmed around giving up Deng, which would leave a void at small forward. The Bulls, of course, would have a high pick to fill that void, and while Kidd-Gilchrist and Barnes are expected to be off the board within the first five picks, Harkless or White would be intriguing prospects, depending on where the Bulls move up to (if they move up).
Even if Deng stays, his scheduled wrist surgery after the Olympics will cause him to miss substantial time into the 2012-13 season. With his 5 million contract, Brewer's status is up in the air. Butler is a cheap option who could be asked to step into a larger role next year.
If the Bulls stay in the No. 29 slot, any one of Miller, Taylor or Green would be an intriguing pick, as the latter two would be able to come in and play right away.

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

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Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.

Lineup changes could be on the way for Bulls: 'It's still up in the air'

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Lineup changes could be on the way for Bulls: 'It's still up in the air'

It’s tough to call the position battle for the backup point guard spot on a Lottery-bound team important, but here we are two days into the Bulls’ season.

It won’t move the needle in NBA circles and Dwane Casey won’t be putting in additional time getting ready for Saturday’s game, but there appears to be potential for change in Fred Hoiberg’s rotation.

One day after an embarrassing display in a season-opening loss to the Sixers, Hoiberg said the Bulls have yet to make a decision on a potential lineup change for tomorrow’s affair against the Detroit Pistons. Kris Dunn, who missed Thursday’s game for the birth of his first child, was not at practice on Friday and may or may not be available for the home opener.

That could prompt changes after Cam Payne, inserted into the starting lineup, was largely ineffective, failing to score on 0 of 4 shooting in 21 minutes.

“We’re gonna see how practice goes today and then make that decision,” Hoiberg said. “It’s still up in the air on what we’re gonna do.”

The loss certainly can’t fall on just Payne, as the Bulls went lifeless after a 41-point first quarter that had them in the lead after 12 minutes. From there the Sixers outscored them by 29 in the second and third quarters, facing little resistance from a Bulls defense that doesn’t appear to have made much improvement from a year ago, Dunn or no Dunn.

Philadelphia shot 48 percent from the field, scored 20 fast-break points and 46 points in the paint, cruising to 102 points through three quarters before reserves finished things off. Even with Dunn the defensive prospects don’t look good, meaning Hoiberg might have to make changes to ignite the offense that scored just 35 points in those second and third quarters.

The Bulls could go a few different routes. Zach LaVine’s hot hand in the first quarter – 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting – saw the ball in his hands, and he even added two assists.

“It's a collective effort. You've got to have all five guys out there trying to play the right way and again, we found a recipe with Zach, especially in that first unit, where we let him bring the ball up the floor,” Hoiberg said. “We ran a couple actions where he was the facilitator and we put Cam in the corner. So a lot of that will be dictated by who has it going on a particular night and last night it happened to be Zach, so he was the one that was doing a lot of facilitating.”

Past a point guard-less lineup, the backups to Payne – Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis – could also see extended minutes going forward.

Arcidiacono had 8 points and 8 assists in 28 minutes, though the majority of those stats came in garbage time. Still, he hit a pair of 3-pointers and didn’t turn the ball over, and five of his assists resulted in makes at the rim.

Ulis, acquired off waivers last week, could inject some life into the second unit.

“He’s ready. He’s done a good job in practice,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve gone through the system with him as far as what we expect and if there’s a point in the game where he can go out there and we feel he can help us, I’m confident that he’ll go out there and give us good effort.”

The point guard rotation isn’t the key to unlocking the Bulls as a lockdown defensive team, or no longer suffering the offensive dry spells that happened Thursday. But in a season that’s already showing signs of adversity, shaking up the lineup might be Hoiberg’s only chance.