Coby White, Daniel Gafford flash chemistry in Summer League debut

Coby White, Daniel Gafford flash chemistry in Summer League debut

LAS VEGAS — On one of the strangest nights in the history of the NBA’s annual Las Vegas Summer League, the Bulls saw a glimpse of their future.

On the first play of their first game against NBA competition, the Bulls’ first-round pick, Coby White, connected with their second-round pick, Daniel Gafford, on an alley-oop. With last year’s No. 7 overall pick, Wendell Carter Jr., sidelined after undergoing core muscle surgery this week, the focus of the Bulls’ summer debut, a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, was squarely on this year’s newcomers.

The results were far from perfect but largely positive.

“I couldn’t hit a shot to save my life,” White joked afterward. He shot 6-for-18 from the field and 0-for-7 from three-point range, but saw the floor well and flashed impressive playmaking ability, particularly when it came to his connection with Gafford.

“It’s always good to have a guard who knows how to throw the ball up as high as you want them to,” Gafford said. “Especially coming from a big like me. I always told him, ‘Just throw it up. I’ll go get it.’ That’s what they did. That’s what they tried to do after almost every pick-and-roll. That was our game plan throughout.”

Gafford’s 21 points came on an impressive 9-of-10 from the field, almost all of which came on dunks. The No. 38 overall pick out of Arkansas showcased what his ideal role can be in an NBA rotation, as a high-energy rim-runner who can block shots.

“He was a monster,” White said. “I think he had 21 and 10. He was a monster at the rim, running the floor. When he says he runs the floor like a deer, he really runs the floor like a deer. That's Danny, though. You know what you're going to get from him. He plays hard.”

Gafford was so locked into his Summer League debut that he insisted afterward he didn’t notice LeBron James and Anthony Davis sitting courtside to watch the Lakers and—later—the debut of Zion Williamson with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The arrival of Williamson filled up the Thomas & Mack Center like few Summer League games ever have, with tickets going for triple digits on the secondary market and room to move around in the building hard to come by.

That wasn’t the end of the madness—the end of the Pelicans’ game against the New York Knicks was canceled, along with the remaining Summer League action of the night, when an earthquake that registered at 7.1 on the Richter scale in Los Angeles reverberated into the Nevada desert. 

The Bulls were long gone by then, and the Summer League debuts of White and Gafford will be a footnote in one of the most memorable days in the history of the event. But the two rookies showed the beginnings of what could become a consistent on-court connection with the Bulls’ second unit this season.

“I can get [White] open and he can knock it down,” Gafford said. “I can get myself open when it comes to screens and stuff. He’s quick. First move, he’s quick. So wherever he’s going, he’s going to get there fast. Helping him get there, fast will be a big help.”

“I think we're playing great off each other,” White said. “Finding him off the rolls, stuff like that. I feel like we're playing great together. But as rookies, we're still learning and finding our way. We've got to be a long way to go. But Daniel's going to be a great player.”

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine gets no respect

NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine gets no respect

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, Dave Watson, and John Sabine react to the week in the NBA and ‘list’ season.

1:45 - On Sports Illustrated top 100 NBA players list and the Bulls players, LaVine disrespect

13:10 - Which recent draft class would have the best starting five?

22:30 - Would Iman Shumpert be a good fit for the Bulls?

32:55 - Matt Peck goes on a rant that involves Wade+Melo

34:45 - Dave gives his top 5 PG’s of all-time

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

NBA G League to introduce new, $100K prize tournament


NBA G League to introduce new, $100K prize tournament

The NBA G League is introducing a new tournament format for their premier showcase games, starting in the 2019-20 season. 

The 2019 NBA G League Winter Showcase will take place December 19-22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and it will feature all 28 teams in the league, with the winning squad taking home a $100,000 prize. 

Under the re-brand, the NBA G League Winter Showcase will see the teams seeded No. 1 through 28, with the top four seeds receiving a bye and advancing straight to the Championship Bracket. The remaining 24 teams will get placed into six separate four-team brackets. All games played at the Winter Showcase will count against G League regular-season records.

For a league full of players fighting for NBA attention and ultimately, (NBA) dollars, the $100,000 prize is sure to add a decent amount of motivation. Last season more than 60 players received Gatorade call-ups (to the NBA) during or right after the showcase games. 

The Bulls know quite a bit about the talent that can be found at the NBA G League Winter Showcase.

Last season the Bulls signed guard Brandon Sampson to a Two-Way contract following a breakout performance at the 2018 G League Showcase for the Rio Grande Vipers.

Sampson averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists through 18 G League games for the Vipers before signing his Two-Way deal with the Bulls and gaining 214 minutes of NBA experience over 14 games. 

The new tournament format for the Winter Showcase will make for an exciting spectacle to for hardcore basketball fans and will add a great layer of intrigue to what is already the best in-season scouting event for NBA scouts interested in the G League.