Bulls

Boise State coach Leon Rice believes Chandler Hutchison, Bulls are a 'match made in heaven'

Boise State coach Leon Rice believes Chandler Hutchison, Bulls are a 'match made in heaven'

The Bulls ended long-standing speculation and drafted Boise State senior wing Chandler Hutchinson with the No. 22 overall pick in the first round of Thursday's 2018 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-7 Hutchison has been linked to Chicago since opting out of the 2018 NBA Draft Combine in May as he gives the Bulls a versatile and experienced wing on the perimeter.

A late-bloomer both during high school career in Mission Viejo, California and during his four years at Boise State, Hutchison has always been willing to put in the work to reach the next levels of basketball. Hutchison elevated from a mid-major recruit into a top-100 national prospect by the end of high school. And similar to his prep career, Hutchison blossomed into a first-round pick after a slow start to his career at Boise State.

Broncos head coach Leon Rice offered strong praise for his former star player, as Hutchinson became the go-to player for the Broncos during his junior and senior seasons. Because Hutchison can play multiple spots, rebound, defend and push off the break, he's an intriguing piece for the Bulls' future rotation. Hutchison should be able to play on the wing alongside other rebuilding pieces like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.

"I think the Chicago Bulls got a steal," Rice said to NBC Sports Chicago. "You look at the last four years, he's gotten better every year."

"I think it's a great fit. You've got a terrific coach out there for Chandler and the style that he is. It's just the same way. I think it's a really good match."

It wasn't always easy for Hutchinson at Boise State. Rice and former Broncos assistant coach Jeff Linder were both convinced that Hutchison had the ability to develop into a star from the time they started recruiting him. But Hutchison needed time to develop his strength and skill level before he became a standout player.

"Our assistant coach Jeff Linder, who I really think is one of our best evaluators, he went and watched this kid. And he calls me, and it's five minutes into the game, and he's like, 'I've seen enough. He's what we need,'" Rice said. "He's got a feel for the game, he's long. I think people labeled him a little bit because he's from Orange County. In my estimation, he didn't fit that label. He just wasn't developed yet. He was young and he looked young. He just wasn't mature yet, that's the bottom line."

When he arrived on campus, Hutchinson was a touted top-100 prospect -- a rarity for the program and the Mountain West Conference. But the program already had talented and experienced players ahead of Hutchison in the rotation. Earning playing time, and a spot in the starting lineup, wasn't guaranteed to Hutchison.

Junior wing Anthony Drmic was one of the best, and most competitive, players in the league as Hutchison had to earn his stripes by battling a veteran in practice every day as an underclassman. Forward James Webb III was another all-conference piece that was already in place for Hutchison to learn from. 

"By the time he got to Boise, there were a lot of strong guys to compete with. I think that brought him something positive. Things that he didn't have," Rice said. "Anthony Drmic is one of the fiercest competitors I've ever coached. Chandler got to go against him day-in, day-out as a freshman. I don't know if across the country, who had a tougher practice. It shapes who he is today."

When Drmic and Webb departed Boise State, Hutchison was ready to step up into a consistent double-figure scorer and go-to player before his junior season. Already putting in the work to become a more well-rounded wing, Hutchison set out to improve an inconsistent three-pointer that was never above 28 percent during his first two seasons with the Broncos.

The arrival of assistant coach Phil Beckner to Boise State was another huge part of Hutchison's personal development. An experienced coach who spent time developing Damian Lillard as an assistant at Weber State, Beckner also had NBA G-League coaching experience and trained NBA players. Beckner's work with Hutchison took the junior's game, and his jumper, to a new level during his final two seasons in college.

"I think the last two years there was a great jump. He got to work with Phil Beckner, one of our assistants, who has worked with Dame Lillard and a number of players. I think he's one of the best at player development. It was a lot of hours and a lot of time doing it. A lot of dedication," Rice said.

Hutchison saw his three-point percentage jump to 37 percent as a junior as he put up 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, helping lead the Broncos to an NIT appearance. Senior year was even stronger for Hutchison. Elevating to 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, Hutchison was named first-team all-conference while being named a top-10 national finalist for the Jerry West Award. 

"He led us in just about every category. And we had a good ballclub, too." Rice said. "He was a do-it-all player and he could do it at every position. He rebounded. He guarded big guys and small guys. Led the break. He's a great decision-maker with his feel."

Rice is also impressed that his star player was always coachable and easy to deal with away from the court. Hutchison earned his degree from Boise State, and even attended graduation in the midst of his pre-draft workouts in Chicago. Hutchison even flew straight back from his graduation and didn't miss his next pre-draft workout.

"He finishes. He got his degree and there's only two or three guys in the first round that got degrees and got it done. I mean, that's impressive," Rice said. "These guys that are elite-level players have so much demands on them with media and with the team and the workouts and all of these extra workouts. To get a degree while dealing with all of that is very impressive."

Hutchison has taken some time to find his footing in every level of basketball. Rice thinks playing around other talented, high-IQ players will help Hutchison's all-around game shine in the NBA. Rice in convinced that Hutchison's work ethic and versatility make him a great fit for the Bulls.

"That's what I love about him. I think he can fill a lot of different positions and a lot of different needs. Depending on what you need, night-in, night-out he can adjust his game and bring those things," Rice said.

"A great organization like the Bulls, he couldn't be more excited. It's a match made in heaven."

Jim Boylen disappointed, Zach LaVine embarrassed following Bulls' worst loss in franchise history

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USA TODAY

Jim Boylen disappointed, Zach LaVine embarrassed following Bulls' worst loss in franchise history

A lot can change in 24 hours. 

Friday, the Bulls picked up their most impressive win of the season, defeating the Thunder 114-112 at the United Center. The Thunder, now 16-8, sit near the top of the Western Conference playoff standings.

And then Saturday night happened.

The Celtics rolled into the United Center and handed the Bulls their worst loss in franchise history. Boston beat the Bulls 133-77, a scoring deficit of a mere 56 points.

“Disappointing, disappointing effort, disappointing outcome after I thought a really hard-fought two games at Indiana and at home last night," said Bulls head coach Jim Boylen. "I’m not discouraged, but I’m disappointed.

"We gotta care more about our effort on a nightly basis, we gotta care more about playing for each other and tonight I thought we didn’t do that."

Before Saturday, the Bulls' worst loss occurred on Nov. 8, 2001, when the Timberwolves picked up a 127-74 win. Fred Hoiberg was on that Bulls team in 2001, ironically.

That 2001 game saw head coach Tim Floyd substitute all five of his starters at once after (h/t to K.C. Johnson). Ironically, Boylen did that Saturday night after the Bulls starters shot 0-of-8 to open the game.

The Bulls did not score their first points until the 5:42 mark of the first quarter, going down 17-0 before Jabari Parker hit two free throws. Robin Lopez made the Bulls' first field goal at the 5:06 mark of the quarter on the team's 12th shot of the night.

"Gotta give Boston credit, I thought they made shots," Boylen said. "They kind of punched us and we didn’t respond."

Boylen substituted all five starters in the first quarter and said that the team did not honor the game with their competitiveness, so he gave the reserves a chance.

“I wanted to give the other guys a chance to see if they could right the ship a little bit," he said. "I’ve been a part of teams that have done that before; don’t like the five guys out here, don’t like that combination, look at a new combination, take them all out, let them sit there and think about it.

"We didn’t honor the game very well with our effort and our competitiveness, so why not take them all out? We’re a team, so sub five guys and see what they can do."

"It is what it is,” Zach LaVine said. "We gotta do what he says.

Boston led 35-17 after the first quarter, 64-43 at halftime and 93-60 after the third quarter. They shot 53.8 percent from the field for the game compared to the Bulls' 38.3 percent, hitting 22 three-pointers compared to the Bulls' six.

The Celtics also out-rebounded the Bulls 54-37 for the game, beating Chicago to lose balls late in the fourth quarter despite the Bulls trailing by more than 50 points.

"We were just following them around, I thought we were a step slow on everything, mentally and physically," Boylen said. "Is it want to, is it effort, what is it? I don’t know what it is, but I just wasn’t going to stand for it."

Not only did Boylen pull all five starters in the first quarter, but he also did after the Celtics opened the third quarter on a 5-3 run. LaVine and the four other starters sat for the final 21 minutes of the game, and the Celtics outscored the Bulls 69-34 in the second half.

LaVine scored 11 points in 19 minutes on 4-of-6 shooting. He said that he was embarrassed, mentioning how it sucked watching the Celtics' lead continue to rise.

"I felt embarrassed. I wish I was out there competing," LaVine said. "It sucks man, sitting there watching the score go up and up. I know we’re competing out there, but it sucks. You know you can help."

LaVine said there is a fine line between sending a message and embarrassing the players.

"Yea, I think so. We put a lot of hard work into this. I get up, compete every day. I think regardless of whatever the score is, I want to go out there and compete, but obviously we didn’t get a chance to do that.

But when asked how the starters don't construe getting pulled out as Boylen embarrassing them, Boylen said the team's play was embarrassing.

"I think your play is embarrassing, me subbing them is saving them, maybe. Maybe we saved them," he said. "The pro player thing, this is basketball; this is about honoring the game and doing the right things.

"Embarrassment is not giving the effort in that Bulls uniform, so I put five guys in that I thought could put the effort in.

"They’re disappointed, they feel bad about it. We need some leadership to step up, we need some guys to take leadership roles on the team."

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How did Jim Boylen celebrate his first win as an NBA head coach following Bulls' win Friday?

How did Jim Boylen celebrate his first win as an NBA head coach following Bulls' win Friday?

Jim Boylen picked up his first win as an NBA head coach on Friday night. The Bulls defeated the Thunder, a team at the top of the Western Conference playoff standings, 114-112 at the United Center.

Celebrations were surely in order for Boylen, but what did he do after the big win?

“I was [at the United Center] a little bit later maybe than I usually would be after a game," Boylen said. "We drove home, we sat on the couch, and I had a bowl of cereal with my kids and we watched the Family Feud.

"It was really cool, it was a cool moment. It was a cool night, man."

Would Boylen ever want to be a contestant on Family Feud, though? Well, not so much.

"No. I would not," he said. "When somebody asks me a question. sometimes I have to think too long. I couldn’t hit the buzzer, I’m not that bright on my feet."

Well, that's totally understandable. Regardless, it sounds like Boylen enjoyed a great moment with his family on an overall great night for him.

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