Bulls

All of our 2018 NBA Draft content in one convenient place

dayton.png
USA TODAY

All of our 2018 NBA Draft content in one convenient place

The NBA Draft is upon us. And we've got all of our NBA Draft content in one place for you. How convenient.

Twitter Handles to Follow

@NBCSBulls | @vgoodwill | @MarkSchanowski | @KendallG13 | @Will_Perdue32 | @markstrot

Insider Vincent Goodwill reports

Bulls' interest in Michael Porter Jr. promises to make draft night an eventful one—again

With Trae Young's team workout looming, his trainer clears air on any Bulls rift: 'That's totally false'

Substance, best fit, development, best pick? Observations from the workouts of Wendell Carter Jr. and Mikal Bridges 

Bulls high on Trae Young, Collin Sexton, unafraid to take point guard in draft

Best player or need? Texas' Mohamed Bamba could represent best fit next to Lauri Markkanen 

Trae Young confident in his elite abilities, aware of his detractors: 'My job is to change the narrative' (by Mark Strotman)

Making The Case For Series/Top 10 Scouting Reports

Making The Case For Deandre Ayton

Making The Case For Luka Doncic

Making The Case For Marvin Bagley

Making The Case For Mo Bamba

Making The Case For Michael Porter Jr.

Making The Case For Jaren Jackson Jr.

Making The Case For Trae Young

Making The Case For Wendell Carter Jr.

Making The Case For Mikal Bridges

Making The Case For Collin Sexton

Content from the NBA Draft Combine

Michael Porter Jr: 'I'm the best player in this draft'

Versatility is Wendell Carter Jr's calling card

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

Adaptability, athleticism make Grayson Allen intriguing NBA Draft prospect

After historical season at Oklahoma, Trae Young ready to make immediate impact in NBA

Wichita State's Landry Shamet could give Bulls backcourt versatility they desperately need

Draft news

Need or best player available? John Paxson says Bulls will lean toward latter

Trae Young says he'll only be working out for four teams...and one is the Bulls

John Paxson says Bulls happy with PG depth, hints at looking elsewhere in NBA Draft

NBA Draft-related Podcasts

2018 NBA Draft primer

Mark Schanowski's NBA Buzz

NBA Buzz: Draft night is almost here 

NBA Buzz: Draft intrigue heating up 

NBA Buzz: Pre-draft misinformation season

NBA 'promises' to potential draft picks not unusual

NBA Mock Draft: Who will Bulls select at No. 7?

NBA Draft Tracker: Center Mitchell Robinson

B/R names Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season

B/R names Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season

Bleacher Report named Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season. The list included five players whose expectations have exceeded what author Grant Hughes, felt is realistic for this upcoming season. It is not entirely shocking for LaVine to make this list, and his defense was the main reason he was included. But the potential for his offensive output to get even better was somewhat overlooked. 

Per Hughes:

In 2016-17, he ranked 441st out of 468 players in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus metric. Last year, he was 490th out of 521. According to Basketball Reference, he's never posted a defensive box plus-minus in positive territory. He topped out at minus-2.0 in his abbreviated 2017-18 season.....It's hard to justify rotation minutes for a player like that, let alone $78 million.

Hughes’ critique is harsh, but based off of statistics that are hard to argue with. LaVine has indeed been one of the worst defenders in the league for the entirety of his NBA career, and his netting of the $78 million falls hand-in-hand with Jabari Parker’s comments on players not being paid to play defense. But for the Bulls to take the leap from lottery-to-playoff contender, at least a league-average D will have to be cobbled together. But that responsibility will not fall solely on his shoulders, and that is why I am skeptical on the idea of LaVine being “overhyped”. 

The post goes on to elaborate that even if LaVine was to recapture the magic of his solid 2016-17 season, he still would be a player who gives up more points on defense than he gets his team on offense. That is a strong possibility, but with the addition of Wendell Carter Jr. as another rim protector, capable of at least providing a hard hedge (if not an outright switch), there is a possibility that LaVine becomes a more aggressive defender out on the perimeter. But that is unlikely, and a much more realistic outcome is LaVine’s offensive value surpassing what is expected.

LaVine’s strength last season was his ability to get to the free throw line. Despite coming off a major ACL injury, he was able to get 4.5 free throw attempts per game, a mark that would’ve had him sandwiched between players like Kyrie Irving and Victor Oladipo had he qualified (LaVine only played in 24 games). It was the highest free throw attempt rate of his career, and assuming he expands on that in a year where he should be completely healthy, he will be one of the best in the league at getting to the line. 

His efficiency will be helped by players like Parker and Lauri Markkanen, who will draw attention off of him. LaVine’s 3-point percentage last season was 34 percent, a number that was more of a reflection of that fact that he was still working his way back into game shape. That 3-point percentage will soon trend more towards the 38 percent mark he shot the previous two seasons. And his 3-point attempts were also down, another mark that is sure to trend upwards, especially with Parker’s inclusion as a scorer who does most of his half-court work in the mid-post area. 

The way the 2018-19 Bulls are built, there is little behind Kris Dunn in the way of a reliable backup point guard, though there is belief internally that Cam Payne can develop into that player. But there is a strong possibility that LaVine will be used as a backup point guard to free up minutes for one of Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine or Chandler Hutchison. And in his rookie year, playing point guard, LaVine had an assist rate of 24 percent, but also an incredibly high turnover percentage. Since making the full-time switch to shooting guard, he has not posted a turnover rate above 10 percent. So, if he can adjust to the fact that there are other players capable of scoring 20 points on the floor—like he did in Minnesota—it is entirely possible for LaVine to be a player capable of getting you 20 points and five assists per game while scoring efficiently and avoiding turnovers. Even if his defense continues to be dreadful, a player who can keep the offense running well from either guard spot is definitely valuable in today’s league. 

In his last season with Minnesota, LaVine had a usage rate of 21.7 percent, a number much lower than his extremely high 29.5 usage rate last season with the Bulls. And while many think of LaVine as a high-volume shooter, his usage rate last year was likely a result of him forcing the issue to try to prove he was worth a significant investment. With his shiny, new contract in tow, LaVine should be focused on making the team better, and get one step closer to his Timberwolves self. On that squad, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each scored 20+ points per game, while LaVine was averaging 18.9 points per game. And the team finished in the top 10 in the NBA in offensive rating.

It is not crazy to think the Bulls could have their own high-scoring trio in LaVine, Markkanen and Parker. And if that is the case, then the expectation is for LaVine to be a efficient scorer who can occasionally spot the open man. Hyped? Yes. But overhyped? No one is banking on him being an All-Star, though it remains in the realm of possibility. The idea that he is overhyped is based on the fact his new contract is $78 million and he is poor at defense, but this is overlooking the fact that LaVine has proven he is a player capable of having a large role on a top-10 offense. September 30 can’t get here fast enough.  

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

lauri.jpg
USA TODAY

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

Lauri Markkanen doesn't often feel short.

The Bulls forward is 7-feet tall, which even in the land of NBA giants makes him one of the tallest players on the court at all times. So when Markkanen stands next to Yao Ming, it changes perspective quite a bit.

Markkanen posted a photo with him and the 7-foot-6 Chinese Hall of Famer. Markkanen looks like a child.

Makes you wonder if Markkanen pulled some "What's the weather like up there?" jokes just because he otherwise never can.