Bulls

Bulls getting more than just a point guard in versatile Tomas Satoransky

Bulls getting more than just a point guard in versatile Tomas Satoransky

The belief when the Bulls signed Tomas Satoransky to a three-year deal was that the 27-year-old would fill an immediate need at point guard. He had filled in for the injured John Wall the final 54 games of the previous season in Washington, and performed well. But for as much as the Bulls love their free agent acquisition’s ability to run an offense, it’s his versatility that may wind up having him fill other needs throughout the roster and depth chart.

It was one of the items VP John Paxson discussed at Monday’s Media Day, mentioning how the 6-foot-7 Satoransky won’t be limited to only time at the point. As he did in three seasons with the Wizards, he’ll be capable of playing three different positions. In fact, he spent 60% of his time off the ball in Washington, filling in at the point last season after Wall suffered a season-ending injury.

“He’s just a basketball player,” Paxson said. “He knows how to play. He’s a good passer, a good shooter, a good decision-maker. He can play off the ball.”

Satoransky agreed with the assessment. He said Tuesday at the Advocate Center that he hasn’t been focused too much of winning a point guard battle or keeping track of who he’s playing with in different lineups. The Bulls plan on moving their Swiss Army knife, who played 60% of his minutes in Washington off the ball, around to mix and match with different lineups. Versatility was a buzzword at Media Day, and Satoransky fits the bill.

“For me (it’s) more to get used to who I’m playing next to, and today I played a lot with Zach, Lauri, KD and OP in the same five,” Satoransky said. “So for me it’s just getting used to those guys, to their tendencies and just make the best out of every position I play.

"I played a lot of the point guard position in Europe and throughout my career, but I played a lot without the ball; cutting baseline, cutting without the ball. It wasn’t that tough on me, but still it’s a different type of play here in the NBA and guys are obviously more physical and athletic. So defensively, it was much tougher. But when I found out our tendencies of the players and I did scouting on them, I was fine."

The Bulls want to use Satoransky for more than just his point guard skills, but they also may need that versatility. Sophomore Chandler Hutchison, who was already nursing a strained hamstring and wasn’t practicing, went home sick on Tuesday with a virus. Denzel Valentine will be worked back in slowly after missing all of last season with an ankle injury.

That leaves very little depth behind Otto Porter Jr., who spent two-plus seasons in Washington with Satoransky and played 1,155 minutes alongside him. Porter discussed Satoransky with the front office in the lead-up to free agency, and he’s seen first-hand how the do-it-all guard can contribute in multiple ways.

“Very versatile, can play many positions, and his knowledge of the game,” Porter said. “It continues to grow and it continues to get better, and that’s impressed me.”

That’s not to say Satoransky won’t see minutes at point guard. There’s still a scenario – it may even be likely – in which he’s the starter. Satoransky is still the team’s most talented point guard, even with Kris Dunn drawing rave reviews in September and talented rookie Coby White waiting in the wings.

That competition will likely last throughout training camp – it’s a true position battle – but head coach Jim Boylen says the fight for minutes and rotation spots is a healthy one, not only because it’s breeding natural competition but because it will provide others opportunities at other positions.

“The point guard competition is a healthy thing. It's a positive thing for this franchise, for this team. It's a good thing. The other thing is, we're building a system where – yes, we'll have a point guard – but in a multi-handler system, everybody handles it. Everybody brings it. In our actions, we can put the 2 in there, the 3 in there. With that, Sato can play 1, 2 or 3; Dunn can play 1, 2 or 3; Shaq can play 1, 2 or 3; Archie can play 1 or 2.

“So I understand that we have to answer these questions and I understand why they're being asked. It's an important issue. But we are going to play a little different where the flexibility and versatility is almost more important than the position, old-school points guard, 2, 3.”

2020 NBA Draft Lottery going virtual, breaking Chicago's two-year host run

2020 NBA Draft Lottery going virtual, breaking Chicago's two-year host run

It’s felt pre-ordained for months now. Now, it appears it’s decided.

No, the Bulls didn’t draw the seventh pick in the 2020 NBA Draft (yet). But The Athletic’s Shams Charania did report Monday afternoon that the lottery scheduled for Aug. 20 will take place virtually. All 14 teams ‘in attendance’ will be allowed to ‘send’ remote representatives. The event will presumably be televised, but details haven’t emerged on that front yet.

It’s a logical gameplan given the COVID-19 pandemic’s ongoing nature, and the acclaim received by virtual draft showcases broadcast by the WNBA and NFL while live sports in the United States were effectively paused.

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The news also sends a few ripples in Bulls world. For one, who will rep the team, in this, its third consecutive lottery appearance? Michael Reinsdorf and Horace Grant manned the post in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But for this year? Benny the Bull would be sure to bring the energy. On the heels of the summer of “The Last Dance,” perhaps a dynasty-era contributor could get the call. Or maybe a newly-minted front office face instead? Time will tell.

And, as our K.C. Johnson pointed out on Twitter, this development also marks the end of a two-year streak of Chicago hosting the lottery in 2018 and 2019. The city has long housed the combine.

Here’s what Adam Silver told NBC Sports Chicago in February when asked his impressions of Chicago as a host-city for the lottery:

We have been very pleased in Chicago. Our community comes together in Chicago for our predraft camp and combine. It made perfect sense to also conduct the draft lottery there. And that was something that Mayor Emanuel never stopped reminding me of. Things can potentially change over time. We are enjoying being in Chicago. Because of the geographic location, it’s more convenient for our teams to be in a more central location. And Chicago, for the same reasons that makes it a fantastic All-Star host, has all the accommodations you need for our teams when they come together for our combine. My anticipation is we’ll be in Chicago for a while. And the city has been terrific to work with.

Silver made that comment before All-Star weekend in Chicago, but all of the above virtues translated. Though Bulls representation was limited, no one would deny Chicago played a splendid host for the festivities.

The Bulls enter this year’s lottery locked into the seventh-best odds (7.5%) at nabbing the No. 1 pick, and a 32% chance of vaulting into the top four. 

Slots No. 1 through No. 8 in the lottery standings are set with the teams excluded from the NBA’s restart. Slots No. 9 through 14 will populate at the end of the play-in round, when postseason seeding is officially set. Teams that started the restart as a top-eight seed in either conference can fall into the lottery if they miss the playoffs, but the ultimate order of the lottery odds will be decided by pre-hiatus record (meaning, for example, that if the current standings hold and the Phoenix Suns finish with a better record than the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings, but miss the postseason, the Suns would own better lottery odds than the Pels and Kings by virtues of each team’s pre-hiatus record).

All of which is to say, clear your calendars for next Thursday. After that, rumor and speculation are sure to swirl until the draft itself, which, as of right now, is reportedly scheduled for Oct. 16. The status of the combine remains up in the air, though ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported July 23 that the league is polling teams on which players should be invited to the combine if one takes place.

For the Bulls, helmed by a new front office regime and facing a moment of reckoning in the current rebuild, this year’s draft process is an especially crucial one.

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Bulls' Top 10 Centers in franchise history

Bulls' Top 10 Centers in franchise history

NBC Sports Chicago is counting down the top 10 Bulls at each position in franchise history.

We've hit the point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards. And last, but certainly not least, the men in the middle. The centers.

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Defensive anchors, multi-skilled hubs and blue-collar tenacity abound in these rankings. And plenty of hardware — both of the championship and individual variety.

We hope you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Without further adieu...

Bulls' Top 10 Centers in franchise history

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