Bulls

Bulls Q&A: Can Jim Boylen get job done? What about Chandler Hutchison?

Bulls Q&A: Can Jim Boylen get job done? What about Chandler Hutchison?

The preseason schedule concludes Thursday night. It’s less than a week until the regular-season opener. Judging from your questions, you’re juiced and jacked for Bulls basketball.

Q: Can Coach Boylen coach these guys well enough to the playoffs? - Matt B.

A: We don’t typically publish last names but since you claimed to be his nephew last week and sound like you’re on a first-name basis with him — Coach Boylen or Jim —perhaps we should be asking you.

Boylen has a plan for improvement. It started with management and him working in tandem on targeting personnel they wanted. He got guys he wanted to coach. So, yes, a lot of this is on him and his staff now. He wanted roster redundancy, as he calls it. He got it. He wanted more shooting. He got it. He wanted tough-minded professionals. He got it.

There’s this perception with some in the fan base that reach out to me that Boylen is some throwback coach, spouting football-isms. If anyone ever talked to the guy about basketball, methinks they’d have a different impression. He knows the game. He owns two decades of NBA experience.

I think everyone would agree the Bulls are playing a more aesthetically pleasing style of offensive basketball. From this seat, it appears they have a lot of work to do defensively. But Boylen and his staff are challenging guys in that regard. Everything comes up roses in the preseason. It’s time to continue the good vibes during the regular season.

My question is about Chandler Hutchison. Though he didn’t look tremendous as an offensive player last season or in summer league (besides when the ball is being pushed), his defense has always looked positive to me. Almost like a reverse Zach LaVine---he has one side down pat, but the other not so much. He has the physical tools on that side to be a very good wing defender for a long while should he stay healthy. With Denzel Valentine back, someone who’s almost the opposite of Hutch in every way, will his current offensive limitations keep him on the bench when he returns? Or does his defensive ability compensate? - KJ T.

He’s still on the team? Ah, I digress.

The Bulls are thin at wing. Hutchison indeed drips with defensive potential. The problem is, similarly to Valentine, you don’t know what you can count on. At his best, Valentine is a solid rotational player because of his shooting and playmaking ability. But can he stay healthy or get enough playing time to produce? He is very much a rhythm player.

As for Hutchison, he needs to show at least something at the offensive end to play or the Bulls are going 4-on-5. And at this point, he’s behind because of his hamstring injury. Wing minutes are there for the taking. It’s up to him to grab them.

With our extreme point guard depth, do you think the second unit combo with Kris Dunn and Coby White works or do you think Dunn should be moved to get someone like Valentine or Hutchinson (when healthy) in the future? - Thomas B.

Well, those to me are two separate questions. You absolutely deal Dunn for wing depth if that trade materializes. White could play with Ryan Arcidiacono, or you could stagger Zach LaVine’s minutes so that he’s running some with the second unit and playing off White. Don’t forget Shaq Harrison is an option as well. Until then, Dunn and White almost certainly will be the reserve guards to start the regular-season rotation. In this case, White is more effective playing off the ball than Dunn.

Who has the highest ceiling on this team and can that person be a three- or four-time All-Star? - @Ewardjr69, via Twitter

This is a hard one, similar to the co-worker who asked me today if Ben Gordon or Kirk Hinrich had a better Bulls career. (It’s Hinrich. He disagrees.) It’s tempting to say Lauri Markkanen has the highest ceiling because of his age and nightmare matchup potential. But LaVine is still only 24 and certainly has the feel of someone poised to be a multiple-time All-Star. He’s such an effortless scorer. I’m going with LaVine and a three-time All-Star, and it’s time for me to put the Kool-Aid down.

Daniel Gafford looks good. What do you think his ceiling is? - @poptrot, via Twitter

Lotta ceiling questions this week. I think there will be situational minutes for him. I’m not sure if he’ll have a permanently set role. His skills of running the floor hard, playing with energy and trying to dunk everything translate no matter the level and time. However, it’s pretty clear that Boylen will try to play small some this season. Thaddeus Young at power forward and Lauri Markkanen at center is a lineup I think will be used often. Also, Cristiano Felicio played some solid defense in the preseason. I know Felicio has become a punch line to many amongst the fan base. However, if he can recapture the role ­­he played three seasons ago — basically, what Gafford is doing now — he may be out there some as well. And this all assumes Wendell Carter Jr. is healthy, which apparently no longer is a safe assumption.

Who’s the biggest x-factor this season on the roster? I’m thinking Wendell Carter Jr. or Coby White. - @benjamminwatson, via Twitter

X-factors, ceilings . . . what the heck is going on? But I’ll bite: Valentine. He shot 38 percent from 3-point range in 2017-18. He could carve out an important reserve role if he stays healthy and connects at that rate or higher again. In fact, I’ll bite twice: Luke Kornet has a chance to be a really intriguing rotation player for this team. With his ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim, he will get minutes. And in those minutes, he’ll show his basketball IQ and ability to make little plays — proper screening angles, court vision — that can go a long way.

Are you seeing any encouraging trends during the preseason that will translate over to the regular season or is it too small of a sample size, being that some analytic experts says it takes 10 games to see any developing trends? - Donald W.

Well, the style of play is encouraging. Pace is up. 3-point attempts are too. Ball movement has improved. Boylen has set a “point-5” rule as his goal — making an action with the ball within .5 seconds. All of this can and should translate to the regular season.

I’ve watched some preseason games and was really shocked by the ball movement and team-first mentality of every player, even Zach. Same story with shots beyond the arc. They took 30+ every game.  Seems like Boylen did a great job this offseason. Could you tell us which surprises are due this upcoming season in your opinion? - С уважением

Beyond Markkanen showing his hilarious sense of humor more in his public comments? I think some may be surprised at Otto Porter Jr.’s impact. He’s one of those players who just makes the players around him better, at both ends. He’s a low-key guy and isn’t a go-to guy for reporters, so I don’t think he draws enough attention for what he does. But he’s greatly valued by coaches and teammates.

The starters looked good in the Raptors game, but the second unit in the fourth quarter was terrible. It looked like our bench is trying to play like the starters instead of having solid plays and focus on defense and stops. What do you think the Bulls need to improve the bench? Do you see them making any moves? Felipe S.

As mentioned several times, a trade of Dunn for wing depth makes sense. Getting healthy would help. But, yes, for as many positive vibes that surround this team, staying healthy and reliable depth remain to me the biggest question marks. The starting unit is very solid on paper. Thad Young is a proven commodity off the bench. Luke Kornet and Coby White are tantalizing prospects. Dunn can be a defensive force if his mental state stays right. Beyond that, there are question marks.

I believe that this new NBA is hurting some young players’ development, especially Lauri’s. He’s an excellent spot-up shooter, but I wish he could learn how to operate in the post, around the free-throw line, kinda like Dirk Nowitzki did. He can shoot over almost any defender or pump fake and get to the basket with one dribble. Pick up a couple of moves with the back to the basket and he can be truly special. He’s more athletic than Dirk was too, and I just wish he was coached differently. Watching him in preseason he looks confident taking 3s, but looked uncomfortable with a pull-up jumper inside the 3 point line. Also, not once did they ran a post up play for him in preseason. I wonder what you think about all of this. – Bobby G.

This was one of my observations in a recent piece that ran on this very website. Over half of Markkanen’s shots during the preseason came from beyond the arc. He shot 44.4 percent on those, so it’s obvious he can be effective from there. But, yes, to best utilize his skills and ability to cause matchup problems, he shouldn’t just be a spot-up shooter. He certainly wasn’t during his dominant stretch last February.

Thanks for all the questions. Talk to you soon.

A candid conversation with Derrick Rose

A candid conversation with Derrick Rose

Anyone who has spent time with Derrick Rose recently has come away with a similar conclusion: The former Bull and current Piston is in a good place.

In the first season of a two-year, $15 million deal with the Pistons, Rose visits the United Center for the second time this season Wednesday. His last visit on Nov. 1 prompted a standing ovation and chants of “MVP! MVP!” for the hometown product.

Rose is 2-1 as a visiting player at the United Center. In advance of his fourth appearance ⁠— one with the Knicks, one with the Timberwolves, two with the Pistons ⁠— Rose sat down with NBC Sports Chicago Pregame and Postgame Live analyst Will Perdue to address a wide variety of topics.

Now 31 and over eight years removed from becoming the youngest most valuable player in NBA history with the Bulls, Rose agreed with Perdue’s assessment that this may be the best he has felt mentally, physically and emotionally.

“I believe so,” Rose said. “I’ve been through a lot. I was a kid when I first started off here. I was shy to the media. I didn’t want to talk to the media at all. It was a learning process. And I didn’t have a mentor at the time. (Agent) B.J. (Armstrong) could do all that he could do. But he never had the talent that I had or the spotlight that I had. He kind of let me just learn by actually just thrusting me in there and letting me figure it out myself.”

That, of course, led to a turbulent period when Rose’s knee injuries and surgeries began piling up, ultimately leading to his trade to the Knicks in June 2016. The trade stung Rose emotionally.

Nevertheless, he told Perdue playing in his hometown still was the best place for him early in his career, even if the considerable shadow of Michael Jordan loomed.

“My story is my story,” Rose said. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way but how it played out. I achieved a lot here. I loved it here. This is my hometown. But when I look at the old footage of the documentary, it kind of remind me of a younger Mike Tyson in a way where you got this talented, gifted individual and they’re just locked into their craft. And they don’t care about what’s going on on the outside. They don’t care about who they’re getting compared to. I didn’t care who I was getting compared to. And I looked at it where MJ was a two guard. I’m a point guard. So how can you compare me?”

Rose’s ascent at times seemed too good to be true. The No. 1 overall pick. Rookie of the Year. First Bulls All-Star since Jordan. Youngest MVP in league history. His injury-plagued fall from grace seemed just as swift.

And it led to considerable second-guessing when Rose sat out the 2012-13 season following his first knee surgery to repair the torn left ACL he suffered in the 2012 playoffs against the Knicks. Generally speaking, he grew more guarded in his media appearances.

“Once I got all that thrown on me and the way people were like coming at me, like you said I wanted to be stubborn. I wasn’t going to change who I was,” Rose said. “Why should I elaborate on an answer when I know you’re going to kill me in the paper the next day? Where I know that you don’t like me as a person, why should I give you my real answer? No, I’m going to act like I don’t want to talk to you. And that’s that.”

Never mind that Rose’s decision is now the norm and load management has become all the rage in today’s NBA. Warriors guard Klay Thompson is expected to miss all this season after tearing his ACL. Kawhi Leonard maximized load management to help lead the Raptors to last season’s NBA title.

“I mean, it was just a different time in the sports world period,” Rose said of his decision. “Now we have the term load management. I don’t think I would’ve taken it as far as Kawhi as far as like they’re really being cautious about his injury or whatever he has. But if load management would’ve been around, who knows? I probably would’ve still been a Chicago Bull by now. But it wasn’t around.

“I was doing what was best for myself and my family. Around that time, I had to think solely for myself. My family was telling me one thing. They really didn’t care. They were just worried about if I was healthy and my mental was all right. When I was around them, they knew I was all right. It was just the outside that was wondering what was going on. And once I figured things out then, it was just a smooth ride until I got traded.”

Already this season, Rookie of the Year favorite and fellow No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson has yet to play for the Pelicans after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right meniscus. At 6 feet, 6 inches and 285 pounds, Williamson plays with a viciousness and torque that recalls a young Rose.

Asked by Perdue what advice he’d give to Williamson, Rose offered eloquence and experience.

“I mean, it’s a lot. First is your weight,” Rose said. “I remember playing for the USA teams and I think my second time we were going and seeing all these doctors and I was getting all these MRIs and I was still feeling pain in my knees certain days. It all came down to my weight. Nobody said nothing about my weight. I think I was around 212 or 214 (pounds) at the time. I was too heavy. It was the little things. I had to watch my diet. Once I watched my diet, I was fine. That was something I didn’t have to worry about.

“But Zion is in his own lane. Just being that heavy, playing the way that he plays, he’s explosive. He’s an athlete I think nobody never saw before. His path is going to be totally different than mine, you know what I mean? He has to, for one, learn the league. I had a chance to learn the league, play through my mistakes and I got injured Year 3 or 4. He got injured right away. So he has to learn his body right away, learn the league, learn what his skills are, work on his skills.”

When Rose scored 50 points last season with the Timberwolves, the outpouring of praise from around the league felt universal. Rose’s ability to persevere and endure his physical travails to still impact games has resonated.

“Me and BJ talk about this a lot and I think it’s the struggle,” Rose said. “Everybody struggles in life. A lot of people pretend and act like they don’t. And you wear a mask the majority of the day or a lot of people wear the majority of their life and try to hide the dark side or the down days. My down days were on TV. It was publicized. So I wasn’t able to hide like that.

“I think that’s one of the reasons why I have a calm temper. Leading up to all (these) dramatics and me leaving and everything, the whirlwind I was in, the eye of the storm, I always stayed calm. I think that’s just part of who I am, my character.”

Rose didn’t wade much into the speculative game as to whether or not the Tom Thibodeau-coached teams would’ve won an NBA title had he not gotten injured.

“I mean, that’s a lot of ifs,” Rose said. “That was something we were fighting for. I think we were very focused and locked in on that. That was one of the goals. But that was something that was in the past. And them memories, we will always cherish. But we’re going to leave that in the past.”

Or even if he could see a return one day to the Bulls, who he led to the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.

“I mean, like I always say, you probably have to ask (Chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf) about that,” Rose said. “I have one more year on this deal. I’m here for two years. After next year, I’ll be a free agent. Who knows? That’s how I’m going to leave that.”

But it’s clear Rose appreciated his time in Chicago. He has said he hopes his oldest son, P.J., grows up like Joakim Noah, one of his close friends.

“I mean, Jo, I think he wouldn’t mind me saying this, he grew up a silver spoon. I call him soft socks,” Rose said. “That’s no knock for people who grew up like him. I used to ask him a lot of questions when he was on the team. I mean, like from grammar school, high school, college, just ask him the activities that he got into when he was older because he had access to everything. He was financially stable. His parents were around here and there.

“I used to ask about some of the diplomatic schools he used to attend in New York and how he’d travel to France and internationally. This whole time, I’m keeping tips. I’m keeping them in my head because it’s like, ‘All right, when my son grows up, he’s going to be in the exact same position as Joakim.’ . . . What drew me to Joakim is his mentality, how he’s independent. He’s not living off his Pops’ legacy. He has made his own legacy in a way. That’s something that I always loved and I was drawn to.”

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How to watch Bulls vs. Heat: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

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USA Today

How to watch Bulls vs. Heat: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

An old familiar face comes to town when Jimmy Butler leads the Miami Heat into the United Center. The Bulls traded Butler for their core of Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen, and while LaVine has shown flashes of incredible scoring Markkanen is struggling to start the season.

This game will be judged perhaps through the lense of that trade, but the Bulls are also looking for a win against one of the league's hottest teams.

Can the Bulls keep Butler and the Heat in check?

Here's how you can watch, listen and stream the game:

Date: Friday, November 22
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Location: United Center| Chicago, Ill.
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Stream: MyTeams
Radio: 670 The Score/Univision Chicago 1200AM

NBC Sports Chicago Coverage

SportsTalk Live: 6:00 p.m. CST
Bulls Pregame: 6:30 p.m. CST
Bulls Postgame Live: 9:30 p.m. CST*
Bulls Outsiders: 10:00 p.m. CST**

* - Immediately following conclusion of the game
** - Immediately following conclusion of PostGame Live

Bulls Outsiders can also be streamed on Twitter and YouTube.

Can't watch this game because your provider dropped NBC Sports Chicago?  Go to MYSPORTSCHICAGO.COM or Call 1-844-700-NBCS to get your Chicago sports back!