Easy formula for Bulls point guards is to get ball to Lauri Markkanen

Easy formula for Bulls point guards is to get ball to Lauri Markkanen

The Bulls haven’t quite sent out a flare signal for a point guard, but since trading Derrick Rose it’s been a revolving door that doesn’t look to stop moving anytime soon.

The dreaded phrase “point guard of the future” has been uttered four times in the last year or so, and if the old adage about quarterbacks applies to point guards (“if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have any”) the Bulls are in deep manure.

It doesn’t take the perfect point guard to fit Fred Hoiberg’s system but of the vague job description one requirement is circled with a big red marker.

“Get the ball to Lauri Markkanen.”

The rookie surprise was the invisible man in the Bulls’ embarrassing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday night, only getting three shots before halftime after making his first two very early in the first quarter.

Hoiberg tacitly declared the point guard position open, having intimated as much after Kris Dunn’s finger injury started to heal. Jerian Grant has led the Bulls in assists in every game and averages nearly seven in the first five but is shooting 33 percent from the field and six percent from 3-point range.

Dunn, the most recent apple of the Bulls’ eye at that position, struggled in his early minutes Saturday but became productive later — albeit after the Bulls were being waxed by the Thunder.

“They’ll go out and show us. I anticipate Jerian bouncing back,” Hoiberg said. “What I saw the other night was we weren’t making shots, including Jerian in that group. So, yeah, it’s an important 48 hours and we’ll see how it plays out.”

One had better cozy up for Mr. Markkanen, who’s scoring nearly 16 points on only 11.6 shots.

“Especially with the pick and rolls and what we run, it's an easy assist,” said Justin Holiday, who leads the Bulls in scoring at 15.8 points per game. “I think the way our offense is made up, a lot of guys can be your best friend but the way Lauri is shooting it right now and how everything is working, the pick and pops, the screen downs, he gets an open shot. Why not?”

Hoiberg’s offense is designed to have plenty of ball movement and player movement, so it’s easy to spot when it drags or the ball is sticking to one side. But with the way things have gone and this year admittedly being a development year, it would be wise for the Bulls to let Markkanen work out his mistakes now, even if it’s a few bad shots here and there.

“I mean, you just know it in the game if it's a bad shot or not,” Markkanen said. “Obviously, I've got to get more aggressive and demand the ball more. I don't want to make stupid plays like turnovers or things like that.”

The Bulls missed Markkanen plenty of times Saturday, leading to wondering if the rookie should speak up to demand the ball.

It doesn’t seem to be in his nature, at least not so far. Holiday said he missed Markkanen being open once and the rookie told him he was open. Holiday said it wasn’t outrageous or anything, but the statement was noted.

“I don't really think he has to,” Holiday said. “We just have to continue to play the game we have, when he's open, that's what basketball is made to do. The ball is supposed to find where it needs to go. If he's open, give him the ball. I don't think he'll have to demand it. If he's open, give it to him.”

Hoiberg planned on adding more actions to get Markkanen opportunities since it seems like he can’t fully trust his point guards to find Markkanen instinctively. And since most of this is largely surprising, Hoiberg probably wasn’t prepared to initiate.

“We do have to have better recognition. We missed him standing all by himself on a couple occasions,” Hoiberg said. “That can’t happen, especially when he’s the guy knocking down shots for us out there. But we do need to add more actions for him. “He was thrust in a role that wasn’t going to happen initially with the incident that happened right before the opener. Now it’s about adding after seeing what he can do on the floor. He has been so good.”

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls


Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

Just two years after being drafted in the second round, Paul Zipser told German media that he doesn’t see the Bulls wanting him next season.

The Bulls have until mid-July to pick up Zipser's option.

"I would not be surprised if they no longer want me.” Zipser said in German and translated via Google Translate

“Actually, I'm pretty sure I will not play in Chicago soon.”

Last month, Zipser had surgery on his fractured left foot, in his native country of Germany, which grew speculation the Bulls wouldn’t pick up his player option for next season. Zipser said the surgery "went perfectly."

Zipser showed some flashes of potential in his rookie season, averaging 5.5 per game and 2.8 rebounds in 44 games. But this past season, he played more games, but injuries derailed him from improving his overall production. He finished with four points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including 12 starts.

Zipser explained that things changed from his first year to his second year.

“They were very varied," Zipser said. "The first year was just going very well. I fought my way into the team from the beginning and showed how I can help the team. The Bulls just needed someone like me. That's why it worked so well. We benefited from each other - that's why we were successful.”

“That was very different. It was not right from the beginning, and I was already struggling with my injury. It was not quite clear what it is. If you have pain in your foot, you automatically go down a bit with intensity. You just do not want to hurt yourself and be completely out. It was then difficult for me to keep my head in the sport - I did not manage that well. Nevertheless, the injury should not be an excuse.”

Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Zipser might not dress up in a Bulls uniform next year.

Former Bulls guard opens up about having depression


Former Bulls guard opens up about having depression

During his NBA career, he was known as having a joking, outgoing, clown-type of personality. Now, former NBA point guard Nate Robinson opened up about having depression.

Robinson, an 11-year NBA veteran, told Bleacher Report that he began going to therapy sessions in the 2012-13 season when he played for the Bulls.

He said he would struggle with having an angel and a demon inside of him.

"The NBA gave me my depression," Robinson told Bleacher Report. "I've never been a depressed person in my life."

"The hardest thing in my whole life, of my 34 years in existence on earth, was dealing with 11 years in the NBA of trying to be somebody that [NBA coaches] want me to be," Robinson said.

When Robinson was with the Bulls, he said he would sit in front of the plane so he wouldn’t be tempted to crack jokes. His one year with the Bulls ended up being one of the top seasons statistically in his career. He averaged just over 13 points and four assists per game. He played in all 82 games (starting 23) on a team that finished 45-37 with a berth in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

He thought his behavior was always looked down upon, and Robinson thought he was being punished for his actions.

“It’s like Spider-Man, that Venom. I never wanted that Venom outfit to just consume me,” he says. “I wanted to be Spider-Man. I wanted to be positive. I never wanted that dark side to come out because I know what that dark side could do.” 

This might come as a surprise for NBA fans, knowing how energetic Robinson was on the court, no matter what team he was a part of.

Even though Robinson is just 5-foot-9, he brought a spark of energy when he came into the game.

He hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2015-16 season with the Pelicans and spent last year with the Delaware 87ers in the G League.

Robinson is known for his participation in the NBA Slam Dunk competition. He won three contests, going back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.

One highlight was Robinson jumping over Dwight Howard in 2009, which ultimately gave Robinson his third title. Another highlight is welcoming former 1986 Slam Dunk Champion Spud Webb on the floor in 2006 and jumping over him.

Robinson is still vying for a comeback to the NBA.