Bulls

The 2018 Bulls did something only 2 other teams in NBA history have done

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USA TODAY

The 2018 Bulls did something only 2 other teams in NBA history have done

When the 3-20 Bulls, who had lost 10 straight, reeled off seven consecutive victories in December it wasn't far-fetched to call it the most unlikely winning streak in NBA history.

And with the season concluded, history tells us that our declarations in December were correct. The Bulls finished the regular season on Wednesday with a loss to the Pistons, moving to 27-55 on the year. And that number - 27 - is significant. Because since the league moved to an 82-game schedule in 1967, no team in NBA history had ever won seven straight games and finished with fewer victories. We'll write that again: In 50 years no team had won fewer than 27 games and also won seven straight at any point in the season.

In fact, only two teams in league history had ever won seven straight in a season and finished with 30 or fewer victories.

The 1983-84 Bulls, who were 5-14 before reeling off seven straight (ironically in December as well), and finished 27-55.

The 1986-87 Spurs also accomplished this rare feat, beginning the year 11-29 before winning seven straight betwen Jan. 24 and Feb. 5.

What's funnier, the following season those Bulls drafted Michael Jordan, and the following season those Spurs drafted David Robinson. No, there's no correlation there but it adds another layer to the statistic.

So, the Bulls' 2017-18 season lasted 174 days (Oct. 19 to Apr. 11). And in a 12-day span (Dec. 8 to 20) the Bulls won 26 percent of their games for the year.

In fact, the last team to have even a six-game winning streak and not win 30 games was the 2011-12 Washington Wizards. They joined a list of 10 other teams to put together a six-game winning streak and not top 30 wins. Quickly, that group was: 2007 Bucks, 2006 Knicks, 2003 Grizzlies, 2001 Cavaliers, 1993 Kings, 1991 Nuggets, 1985 Knicks, 1981 Jazz, 1975 Jazz, 1969 Bucks. The most stunning of that list was the 1991 Nuggets, who won 20 games but somehow had a six-game winning streak. The Nuggets' season was 170 days long, and 30 percent of their wins came in a 12-day span.

So what's it all mean?

It was fairly obvious the Bulls' roster was more talented than its 27-win record. That's not at all to say the team constructed at the beginning of the season should have competed for a playoff spot, or even flirted with .500. That'd be going far too far. But bad teams - we're talking BAD teams - don't win seven straight games. It just doesn't happen. The six teams that finished ahead of or tied with the Bulls (PHX, MEM, DAL, ATL, ORL, SAC) had long winning streaks of 2, 3, 4, 2, 3 and 2. In addition to their seven-game winning streak, the Bulls also had three separate three-game winning streaks.

The losses that followed - the Bulls went 17-35 after the unlikely win streak - were expected. The Bulls traded away Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans, sat veterans Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez for large stretches of the second half, and shut down Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine in the season's final weeks. That allowed the Bulls to "catch" both the Nets and Kings in the Lottery standings, but the reality was the Bulls were simply too talented to be one of the worst teams in the league.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls trade up or down in the draft?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls trade up or down in the draft?

Mark Carman, Hub Arkush, Phil Rogers and Will Perdue join Kap on the SportsTalk Live Podcast.

The guys start by discussing Brandon Morrow's injury that he sustained while taking off his pants... what's the craziest cause for an injury the guys can remember?

Plus, should the Bulls move up or down in Thursday's NBA Draft? Does it make sense to take on a bad contract in a potential deal?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Chandler Hutchison's unusual basketball background makes him an intriguing target for the Bulls

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USA TODAY

Chandler Hutchison's unusual basketball background makes him an intriguing target for the Bulls

Over the past several weeks, the Bulls have been heavily rumored to be selecting Boise State small forward Chandler Hutchison with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although the 6-foot-7 Hutchison had a stellar four-year career with the Broncos, and was regarded as a top-100 national prospect coming out of high school, his background is relatively unknown compared to many of his first-round counterparts. Not many recruiting gurus watched Hutchison in-depth in high school. The same could be said about draft analysts watching Hutchison's career unfold at Boise State.

Part of the reason Hutchison has flown under the radar for so long, despite being a first-round talent, is his unique basketball upbringing. Many elite high school players opt to transfer to big-time basketball schools while playing in high-exposure shoe-company leagues during the spring and summer. Instead of the normal path, Hutchison chose to stick with the people that he trusted.

Playing for a small, independent grassroots program in high school known as Team Eastbay, Hutchison started showing special gifts as a sophomore in before blossoming into a top-100 national prospect towards the end of high school. Hutchison's trainer and coach with Team Eastbay, Perry Webster, saw that Chandler had the ability to be a big-time player.

"I walked into the gym and saw this 15-year-old kind of gangly kid. And he just moved different than anybody else. I thought he had a chance to be a pretty good player," Webster said of Hutchison.

As Hutchison developed more of a reputation in the Southern California basketball scene, becoming a starter at Mission Viejo High School his junior season, he started to draw more attention from local and national recruiting analysts — including former ESPN recruiting insider Joel Francisco, Scout.com's Josh Gershon and SoCal recruiting analyst Devin Ugland.

"You saw during his junior year that he was a legitimate Division I prospect. During the spring he started blossoming," Francisco said. "He had the ball skills and the prototypical length and things like that. And he was finishing plays. He had a good IQ for the game. It was a matter of strength and he had to fill out to become a more complete player."

By the end of summer going into his senior season, Hutchison had established himself as a potential Pac-12 recruit, as schools like Oregon and USC started to show heavy interest. But it was mid-major programs like Boise State, Saint Mary's and UC-Irvine who had long been involved in Hutchison's recruitment.

Knowing that Hutchison was a unique wing with a high IQ and passing skills, Webster, a former Division I player at Cal State Fullerton himself, advised that his star player take a close look at the programs that would put him in position to succeed right away.

"Every AAU program in Southern California was trying to get him for their team. Free ride this, free shoes. The kid stayed really loyal to me. I was very hard on him," Webster said. "I demanded a lot of him. I screamed at him, I yelled at him. And he looked me in the eye and took it. I realized, this kid is pretty special because he's not running away from what he is. He knows what his limitations are. That's not something he's afraid to address.

"Not everybody was sold on him. Joel [Francisco] was. Joel was one of the proponents of him. But being that he burst on the scene late, and that he didn't play for the big shoe companies, we kind of came to the decision that we wouldn't be so enamored by the Pac-12. He realized he had ability but he still had a long way to go." 

Hutchison eventually decided to sign his National Letter of Intent with Boise State before his senior season started as assistant coach Jeff Linder acted as his lead recruiter. Even though his collegiate future had been decided, Hutchison continued to evolve into a major prospect during senior year as he flourished at Mission Viejo.

Even with his strong senior season, skepticism remained about Hutchison since he hadn't played with and against many of the major names in Southern California. Ranked as the No. 83 overall prospect in ESPN's final Class of 2014 national recruiting rankings, Hutchison was viewed as the seventh best player in his own state. While Francisco pushed for Hutchison to be ranked in the top 50, he had to settle for him being a back-end top-100 talent.

"They're like, hey, he's going to Boise State, he's not on a major shoe company team. How good can he be? But if he can play, he can play. It doesn't matter if he's not on the adidas circuit, he's not in the EYBL," Francisco said.

Francisco wasn't the only major recruiting analyst to take notice of Hutchison's play. Rivals.com's Eric Bossi also labeled Hutchison as a potential breakout player at Boise State. Hutchison was even placed in the Rivals national recruiting rankings, ending up at No. 98 overall, after his senior season. Bossi was on vacation with his family during spring break and he happened to see Hutchison play during his senior season. But Hutchison's strong effort, along with some research, convinced Bossi that he was worthy of a top-100 ranking, even with only one serious viewing. 

"I decided to go watch some regional California high school playoff stuff. And it just so happened to be that Chandler's high school team was one of the teams I was seeing," Bossi said. "I knew he was on the team and committed to Boise State. But then when I watched him play I was like, 'Holy cow, what an incredible get for Boise State. Like, this dude's legit.' He had great size for a wing. He could handle the ball, he could really pass and I thought he could defend multiple positions at the next level when it was all said and done. I thought he was a versatile, well-skilled, well-rounded basketball player. So, based on that, I thought he was top-100. I wish I had seen him more."

Even as a former top-100 national prospect, it took some time for Hutchison to gain traction at Boise State as he didn't put up big numbers during his first two seasons. Although Hutchison played plenty of minutes and started a healthy amount of games, he often took a back seat to talented all-conference players like Anthony Drmic and James Webb III.

When those players eventually moved on from the Broncos, Hutchison was given his chance to shine, as his ascension into all-conference player and future first-round pick came with an intense work ethic that continually developed during workouts in college.

Hutchison also became a consistent three-point threat — something he had been lacking during his development — as he became a hot name in the 2018 NBA Draft despite his unorthodox basketball background.

"He's always been competitive. I think the big thing is reps. And it still will be as he continues to play in the league," Webster said. "He wasn't a bad shooter in high school, but I think the big adjustment for him getting to college, it's hard to put up good percentages in college. I think some of it is mental. But I think he's a good shooter and I think that he'll prove that." 

It's hard to predict if the Bulls will end up with Hutchison with the No. 22 overall pick on Thursday night — especially given all of the chaos that can occur on draft night. But if Hutchison does end up in Chicago, he won't be fazed by having to prove himself after already doing so at the high school and college level.