Bulls

How Jabari Parker would work on the Bulls

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USA TODAY

How Jabari Parker would work on the Bulls

Most of the dust has settled in free agency, yet 23-year old forward Jabari Parker is still awaiting an offer.

Entering his fifth season, Parker has many factors that make it possible he won’t pan out, the biggest being injury concerns. He has torn the ACL in his left knee twice in three seasons, a truly rare happening. But in his return to action, he showed off a skill set that- in theory -could work in Chicago.

Parker played in 31 games last season for the Bucks. And while it is true that his primary position is power forward, the thought that he can’t play small forward full-time is more founded in the idea that he will never become a sufficient 3-point shooter. Which, if last year is any indication, is not necessarily true.

In his 31 games last season, Parker shot 38.3 percent from the 3-point line on 2.6 attempts per game. And he played 40 percent of his minutes at small forward and 60 percent at power forward. His 3-point percentage has increased every season in his career, and if that upwards trajectory continues he will be one of the more effortless scorers in the league. 

Of course he would have to be given ample opportunity to prove himself. Because last season he showed flashes of what he can become.

In Chicago, the presence of Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn gives the team two capable ball-handlers in the starting lineup. And Denzel Valentine and Cam Payne allow the second unit to have similar dual ball-handler capabilities, but Parker has some playmaking skill of his own that would allow the Bulls to truly buy-in to head coach Fred Hoiberg’s quick-hitting offense.

The last two seasons Parker’s assist percentage has been between 13 and 14 percent, a figure that would make him one of the best passing forwards on the Bulls. And perhaps the biggest asset he would bring to the Bulls is the fact that he is quite proficient at grabbing the rebound and pushing the ball up the floor himself. So in a world where Parker does not become a better floor-spacer, the issue would be mitigated by making him the primary playmaker off the bench.

Last season Parker scored one-point per possession as the pick-and-roll ball handler, a mark that put him in the 89th percentile of pick-and-roll scorers. Interestingly enough, Milwaukee only allowed Parker to be the ball handler in pick-and-rolls 13.9 percent of their possessions, compared to the enormous over 40 percent share that both LaVine and Dunn received last season. Even Valentine was give a chance to shine in the pick-and-roll with the Bulls, acting as the PnR ball-handler just over 27 percent of the time.

The idea is, with developing stretch fours like Bobby Portis and Markkanen- both above 36 percent from 3-point range - Parker could actually play an important role in Chicago. And with all due respect to Portis, Sixth Man of the Year could be in Parker’s grasp if he could get in a full season of basketball.

Even coming off of injury, his 55 percent true shooting percentage last year would've made him one of the top-five scorers efficiency-wise on the Bulls. Parker also took 34.9 percent of his shots zero-to-three feet from the basket, a higher share of inside shots than any of the Bulls starters. His 62 percent shooting in the zero-to-three foot range was not as high as Markkanen (67.6 percent) or Lopez (72.9 percent), but he got their at a much higher rate. 

Parker’s lack of free throw attempts don’t do much to help a Bulls team that was 26th in the league in that category. But being aggressive in getting to the rim is the first step to a higher free throw rate, and Parker has at least shown the ability to do that.

Some Bulls fans were upset at the idea of matching LaVine’s four-year, $78 million offer, not exactly understanding the value of “asset retention”. And that same subsection of Bulls fans would be in hysterics should the team sign Parker,  the former No. 2 overall pick with a well-documented injury history. But the idea is the same as matching LaVine’s offer from Sacramento. 

No one is arguing that LaVine will have to prove that he is worth the four-year commitment from the Bulls. And no one is saying that Parker would be a perfect fit on the Bulls, as clearly the team would have to cater some aspects of the offense to him to maximize his potential. But the idea of nabbing a player who put up 20.1 points per game on a 56 percent true shooting percentage just two seasons ago should be an enticing one for a franchise trying to make real progress through their rebuilding years. 

Bulls' Coby White has 7th best odds to win 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year

Bulls' Coby White has 7th best odds to win 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year

The 2019 NBA Draft has finally come and gone, and we now have a much better idea of how the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year race will pan out.

Of course, Zion Williamson has been the frontrunner to win ROY in most sports books before the draft even happens, and not much has changed since then at the top, with Williamson listed as a -450 favorite to win the award via Caesars. But when perusing through the rest of the top ROY odds, it is interesting where the split comes in terms of Caesar’s confidence in each first-year talent.

The top five in the odds were pretty much chalk, with the top five draft picks having the best odds in order, besides No. 5 overall pick Darius Garland finishing ahead of No. 4 overall pick De’Andre Hunter. Garland’s +1000 odds are likely the result of the general expectation that he and incumbent point guard Collin Sexton will be the driving forces of the Cavaliers’ offense.

Meanwhile, Hunter is sure to serve in more of a supporting role as a wing opposite Cam Reddish (+2500 odds) and 2018 NBA ROY runner up Trae Young, who possess much more in terms of ball handling and shot-creating ability. Speaking of ball handling and shot-creating ability, Bulls No. 7 overall pick Coby White comes in tied for 7th with +3000 odds to come away with the ROY award. 

White has the same odds as No. 8 pick Jaxson Hayes, and only slightly better odds than No. 9 pick Rui Hachimura and No. 15 pick Sekou Doumbouya. Historically, the ROY award goes to whichever first-year player has the most productive season in terms of raw numbers. White is expected to compete for the starting point guard job with Kris Dunn and whatever veterans the Bulls front office brings in.

While it is true that Coby White is not guaranteed a starring role in Chicago, the average-to-below-average guard play that the organization has received over the years would seem to indicate that the speedy first-year guard will be a fixture in the rotation all season long. 

When bettors first glance at White’s +3000 odds, they make look at it as a normal line and reasonably stay away from the longshot. But if you--like Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson--believe that White is an extremely coachable talent who will help get the entire Bulls team to commit to a more up-tempo style, then rolling with White’s odds in the ROY race is a no-brainer.

Waiting to see how free agency shakes out would be a prudent move on the part of bettors, but have confidence in White, who figures to be a crucial part of the rotation whether or not the Bulls go with a veteran starter or the incumbent, Kris Dunn, in the lead guard spot. 

Bulls Talk Podcast: Coby White and Daniel Gafford join Mark Schanowski

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Coby White and Daniel Gafford join Mark Schanowski

Mark Schanowski is joined by Bulls top draft picks Coby White and Daniel Gafford after they were introduced to the media Monday at the Advocate Center.

0:50        White on how he thinks he can help the Bulls

1:25        White on his meeting with Jim Boylen

2:00        White on joining a very young roster

2:30        White on the influence of his father

3:33        White on the viral video of him reacting to Cam Johnson being drafted

4:50        White on his teammate first personality

5:38        White on looking forward to playing w Gafford

6:42        Gafford on his skill set

7:15        Gafford on watching the NBA when he can

7:40        Gafford on evolving big man role

8:47        Gafford on if he can do more offensively

9:20        Gafford on Bobby Portis, and some of their similarities

10:30     Gafford on some of his highlights from Arkansas

11:10     Gafford on Jim Boylen

11:30     Gafford on pick n roll game

12:00     Gafford on Coby White

12:40     Gafford on falling to the 2nd round, how getting drafted by the Bulls worked out

13:22     Gafford on throwing out 1st pitch at an upcoming Sox game

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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