Bulls

Bulls need to develop a secondary playmaker

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USA TODAY

Bulls need to develop a secondary playmaker

These are the career points per 36 minutes numbers for the three players who figure to get majority of the field goal attempts on the 2018-19 Bulls:

Zach LaVine: 17.6 
Lauri Markkanen: 18.4 
Jabari Parker: 17.9

There is no debating that this current Bulls roster has multiple players who can flat-out put the ball in the basket. The the biggest questions come into play when you try to imagine how these players will keep each other involved, assuming they take the lion's share of the field goal attempts.

Kris Dunn finished just outside the top 10 in the league in assist percentage (33.3 percent), a higer mark than Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry or Stephen Curry. And though he is a talented passer, what this figure really shows is that the Bulls severely lack a secondary playmaker to take pressure off of Dunn to create shots for others.

Per Ben Falk's site Cleaning The Glass, Markkanen was not able to create for others with his offense, but shockingly, Parker and LaVine did an OK job in the play-making department, considering their reputation as shoot-first players.

Assist rate is a great way to see how much a player is distributing when they are on the floor. And usage rate is perhaps the best way to get an idea of how many possessions a player uses on offense. So naturally, assist to usage ratio is one of the best tools to use to assess a player's ability and willingness to create opportunities for others on offense. What the statistic boils down to is: how often did a player get an assist given how much they had the ball. 

Parker finished last season in the 67th percentile in assist to usage ratio, and LaVine finished in the 58th percentile. These numbers show that both players are capable passers and clearly have the potential to be great setup men.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPg_MH56Ods

This is crucial because Markkanen’s development will heavily depend on if he can expand his scoring repertoire, something that looks increasingly difficult with Parker and LaVine, who have averaged a combined 29.5 field goal attempts per 36 minutes for their careers. 

Many times throughout the offseason you likely heard about how the Bulls have many mouths to feed in the locker room. But this doesn’t pertain to just shots, ball-control will be a major concern as well. With incumbent point guard Kris Dunn still a relatively weak floor-spacer (32 percent from 3-point range last season), Fred Hoiberg will need to get creative with his rotations to keep the offense running efficiently. Backup point guard Cam Payne shot 38 percent from the 3-point line last season, and when inserting him into the game for Dunn, Parker would flourish as a point-forward (possibly) surrounded by four competent shooters. Parker could derail the Bulls offense because he is not an elite 3-point shooter, but that issue is mitigated when you put the ball in his hands to let him create.


Parker was fourth in the pecking order in Milwaukee last season, and so it comes as no surprise that his free throw attempts, points and field goal percentage dropped from his 2017 numbers. If you look at the 2017 season (Parker’s breakout season) you see that Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo pretty much split the No. 1 options duties on offense. They each took about 16 shots apiece and combined for 8.2 assists per game. This is a best case scenario for the Parker-LaVine wing duo. 


LaVine has the benefit of coming into the league as a point guard, and he has still retained the ability to make the right pass when it presents itself. And last season, he had an impressive turnover percentage that was just below 10 percent. However, the reason for this was that he averaged 4.34 seconds per touch, a very long time in an NBA possession, usually looking to score and nothing else. It’s easy to avoid turnovers when you aren’t looking to pass.


LaVine usually makes the obvious play if it is one pass away, but he does not move the ball around to prevent the offense from becoming stagnant.


Both LaVine and Parker will have their struggles on defense (understatement of the year), but much more important to their development is understanding that if you give the ball up on offense, it will find its way back to you. This is perhaps the only way a Bulls team that ranked 28th last season in offensive rating, can make a big enough leap in scoring efficiency to make their way back to the postseason. 
 

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and draft impact on the Bulls

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and draft impact on the Bulls

Mark Schanowski is joined by Will Perdue and Mark Strotman to preview the NBA draft.

0:50       Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and expectations for the Lakers

3:20       What’s next for the Lakers?

4:15       Is the ‘3-star’ approach the right way to win a title?

6:55       Were Bulls even close to trading Zach LaVine? Would a trade for Ball have been a positive?

10:45    On the best type of point guard to pair with LaVine and rumors on Darius Garland

14:08    Would Coby White be a good fit for the Bulls?

16:55    On the potential wings available at 7

18:50    Perdue on Reddish upside

19:35    Concern over the ‘low-motor’ red flag with Reddish, are Bulls able to take a risk?

22:30    On finding a point guard in free agency

24:10    Predictions for Bulls at 7

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Kirk Hinrich sent U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland into basketball retirement

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AP

Kirk Hinrich sent U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland into basketball retirement

U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland used to be a basketball star. Then he ran into Kirk Hinrich.

Woodland, who won the 119th U.S. Open Championship on Sunday at Pebble Beach, shared a story about how he transitioned from basketball to golf.

Woodland was attending Washburn University in Kansas, and as a freshman in 2002 he and the Ichabods played the Kansas Jayhawks in an exhibition game.

It was during that game - a 101-66 Kansas victory - that Woodland said he realized he wasn't going to make it as a hooper.

"That decision got forced on me,” Woodland told reporters after his U.S. Open victory. "I had to guard Kirk Hinrich, and I realized, I’m going to have to do something else."

No one can blame Woodland for feeling that way. That Jayhawks team went on to win 30 games and, behind Hinrich and Nick Collison, advanced to the national championship game where they lost to freshman star Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse.

Hinrich went on to become the 7th overall pick in the historic 2003 NBA Draft and played 13 NBA seasons with the Bulls, Hawks and Wizards.

Woodland, ironically, transferred to the University of Kansas as a sophomore and joined the golf team. The rest is history for the major championship winner.