Bulls

Coby White flashes playmaking prowess: Takeaways from Bulls-Magic

Coby White flashes playmaking prowess: Takeaways from Bulls-Magic

The Bulls fell to the Orlando Magic 85-73 on Saturday night, with some sloppy play and rebounding woes being the main reasons for the loss. Here are a few takeaways:

Chandler Hutchison’s rough Summer League continued on Saturday night.

In his 30-minute stint against the Magic, Hutch shot 3/10 from the field, which included going 1/2 from the 3-point line. Hutchison’s 3-point shot still has a long-way to go and it’s not just about the fact that he shot 20 percent from 3-point range over four NBA Summer League games. Hutchison has had his fair share of particularly bad misses in Vegas that are reminiscent of his rookie season in which he shot 28 percent from 3-point range.

It wasn’t all bad for Hutchison. He was aggressive on offense throughout Summer League despite his shot not falling, especially against the Magic on Saturday. Hutchison led the Bulls--by a wide margin--with 9 free throw attempts and chipped in 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. He missed rotations on defense here and there and had a few moments where he put in a weak effort in transition defense as well. But Hutchison averaged a combined 1.5 steals + blocks per game over four games in Vegas and was mostly active. 

Summer League wasn’t great for Hutchison but he is still entering a big sophomore season in which the Bulls are likely to be a much better team. He projects to be a plus defender but there is still much to be discovered about his offensive game.

Though his line of 14 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks isn’t overwhelming, Daniel Gafford yet again he showed that he may be ready to contribute in a role that he clearly understands. Gafford has a soft touch around the rim and has been dominant in the paint throughout Summer League.

Gafford continued that on Saturday, shooting 7/8 from the field, including one back-breaking dunk that definitely sent a clear message: Gafford is always looking to finish with authority.

Gafford’s dunk even caught the eye of new teammate Thaddeus Young.

The fact that Gafford only collected 3 rebounds in just around 20 minutes is a bit concerning but he did spend most of the night with Hutchison or someone much smaller playing power forward next to him, contributing to that low figure.

Orlando was quick to double-team Gafford in the rare moments that he put the ball on the floor to make a move and he generally had multiple blue jerseys around him in the paint. He can play a bit out of control at times (6 personal fouls in 20 minutes) but doesn’t turn the ball over a ton since his shot selection consists of putbacks and dives to the rim. 

Developing a midrange jumper and improving his ability to attack of the dribble will be logical next steps for Gafford to become a more well-rounded center. But in the Bulls loss to the Magic on Saturday, Gafford yet again showed how devastating he can be as a simple shot-blocking, rim-runner.

While the dunks and blocks will get the headlines, my favorite play of the night by Gafford was a solid screen he set when the Bulls ran a nice “Horns” set. His screen freed up Walter Lemon Jr. for a nice alley-oop. 

New Bulls big man Luke Kornet figures to factor into the rotation somehow but there is a good chance we see Gafford get real minutes in the 2019-20 regular season.

The Bulls got a good look at their two 2019 draft picks over Summer League but they also got to see two-way contract player Adam Mokoka and G-League player (Windy City Bulls) Mychal Mulder. Mokoka is a 20-year old, physical wing out of France. He last played for Serbian club Mega Bemax and looks like he should at least be ready for the physicality of the NBA game.

Mulder is a 25-year old Canadian guard who played his college ball at the University of Kentucky. He is a great shooter and was one of the few perimeter threats on the Bulls Summer League roster outside of Coby White. 

Mokoka and Mulder combined for 25 points and hit 5 of the Bulls 8 3-point field goals on the night. They wouldn’t have gotten those 3-pointers up without White, who is starting to look more like an NBA point guard.

White couldn’t get his 3-point shot going in Vegas, shooting a very disappointing 3-for-26 from 3-point range over Summer League. But he played like a floor general on Saturday night, racking up 8 assists and only 3 turnovers. It was perhaps his best “true point guard” game despite the fact that he only chipped in 7 points. 

White’s play has been what you should expect from a one-and-done point guard who is a score-first player.

He has been erratic at times with his decision-making but White ultimately got better with the ball in his hands as the games went on. He often blew past his man so fast that he drew multiple defenders, only to see a teammate miss the wide open 3. White will be fine as long as he continues to make those same, simple reads at the NBA level, as players like Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine will not be missing open looks. 

The biggest thing I saw from White in Saturday’s game against the Magic was his ability to get off a shot in the midrange after getting free with a snake dribble in the pick-and-roll. Since he isn’t the most explosive finisher--in terms of finishing over length--White’s ability to function at a high-level in the short midrange area will be a key development over his career and Saturday night was a step in the right direction. 

The Bulls didn’t produce a lot of wins in the 2019-20 NBA Summer League. But they were able to show that for the second summer in a row, they are adding two intriguing, young players to a steadily improving core.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Jim Boylen is out as Bulls head coach

Bulls Talk Podcast: Jim Boylen is out as Bulls head coach

Once the regular season ended, the official start of the offseason began and the Bulls' first move was to let Jim Boylen go. In an emergency edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, host Jason Goff is joined by Bulls insider K.C. Johnson and Bulls beat writer Rob Schaefer as they discuss the decision.

(1:30) - What led Arturas Karnisovas to the decision to let go, Jim Boylen

(6:00) - Arturas Karnisovas on having full power to make decisions

(16:30) - Potential candidates to replace Jim Boylen

(25:20) - How can a coach get the best out of the current Bulls roster

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Bulls firing Jim Boylen proves Arturas Karnisovas has autonomy — and a vision

Bulls firing Jim Boylen proves Arturas Karnisovas has autonomy — and a vision

Maybe it’s time to take Michael Reinsdorf and Arturas Karnisovas at their word. 

When Reinsdorf introduced Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations in April, the Bulls’ president and chief operating officer emphasized that Karnisovas had full autonomy on all basketball-related matters.

When Karnisovas held an end-of-season conference call with reporters in June, he talked about the critical nature of getting the coaching situation right and how he planned to take his time evaluating Jim Boylen.

The longer Boylen stayed employed, people speculated that Reinsdorf valued money over movement. Many questioned Karnisovas’ autonomy — and sanity — during his evaluation process.

Karnisovas fired Boylen Friday. Just like he fired longtime general manager Gar Forman in April and replaced him with Marc Eversley. A new era is upon the franchise. 

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“I respectfully acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all of those in this organization who have come before me,” Karnisovas said on a conference call with reporters. “But I’m dedicated and committed to cultivating a culture that creates winning and has its sights set on championships.” 

Former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Denver Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Dallas Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas and Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka are five of the names on Karnisovas’ list of likely interviews, sources said.

RELATED: Here are 5 initial candidates to replace Jim Boylen as coach 

Three things stand out about the process: Karnisovas is a thoughtful, deliberate decision-maker, not swayed by public pressure and choosing to work by his own process. The perception of the Bulls needed to change, particularly with them projecting to be players in the 2021 free-agent market. And the common characteristic of the initial interview targets is people strong on player relationships and player development.

Just watch the Nuggets as they compete in bubble ball during the NBA restart on the Disney World campus. That roster, which Karnisovas had a large hand in shaping, screams player development. It’s filled with intriguing young, athletic talent and two-way players. 

That’s the vision for the Bulls. And now it will include a new coach.

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So why now?

Karnisovas cited an unprecedented regular season ending today and next week’s draft lottery intensifying draft preparation as reasons. But there’s also progress being made on the NBA and NBPA agreeing to allow group workouts at respective team facilities in September for the right teams not part of the Disney World restart. 

While Karnisovas said there’s no timeline or deadline to have a new coach in place, those workouts would be a good guess.

“In terms of what we’re going to be looking for, we’re going to continue focusing on player development and an emphasis on player development, someone who puts relationships with players first and is a good communicator,” Karnisovas said. “There are a lot of factors going on in terms of criteria that we’re looking for in a coach, but again, those are the main ones. We will start the search immediately.” 

Karnisovas thanked the Reinsdorfs for giving him the autonomy to make a decision based on basketball reasons, not financial ones. You know, just like they said they would.

“The signal is that we’re changing things. It signals that we’re looking forward to what comes next,” Karnisovas said. “We just felt this program needed a change and needed a change now. And I can’t wait to find the next coach for this group.”