Luke Kornet has destroyed the Bulls during his brief, 66-game, two-year career.
He's only faced the Bulls three times but in those games has logged career-highs in points, rebounds and blocks.
Either the Bulls got tired of watching him push them around, or more likely saw potential in a stretch 7-footer with rim-protecting ability, and decided to target him in free agency. There was obviously mutual interest, as the sides reportedly agreed to a two-year deal on Tuesday night. It's unknown whether the Bulls will make room to open up cap space for Kornet, who was renounced by the Knicks last month to become an unrestricted free agent, or simply use the room exception to add him, but either way he's a low-risk option that gives the Bulls the depth they need behind Wendell Carter Jr.
Kornet faced the Bulls twice last season in April as both teams were fighting for Lottery position and additional ping-pong balls that came with it. Kornet was magnificent in those two games: On April 1, he tallied a career-high 24 points on 8 of 11 shooting, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Eight days later, Kornet tallied 12 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 blocks in 39 minutes. The Knicks won both games behind Kornet's two-way prowess, and it clearly made an impression on the Bulls' front office.
Consider Kornet's stats in 3 games (he had a nine-point effort as a rookie in 2018) against the Bulls compared to his other 63 games:
Kornet against the Bulls (3 games): 15 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3.3 blocks, .531/.444/1.000 shooting
Kornet against the other 29 teams (63 games): 6.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 blocks, .369/.354/.796 shooting
His dominance against the Bulls aside, there's a lot to like about Kornet, who will turn 24 years old later this month.
He shot 36 percent from beyond the arc on 70 of 193 shooting, and also blocked 42 shots in 46 games. Only 33 players tallied 70+ 3-pointers and 40+ blocks last season, and only 10 were 7-footers. It's tough to analyze his per-game stats because he played 10 minutes or less in 14 of his 46 games (including a 1-second outing against the Bucks in December) and he was shipped between New York and the G-League for a good portion of the season.
But his block percentage (the percentage of shots a player blocks while on the floor) of 4.5% was mighty impressive. Only 20 players accomplished such a rate, including Bulls' rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Making it more impressive was the fact that Kornet shared the floor with rookie Mitchell Robinson for 218 of his 784 minutes. Robinson was one of the best shot-blockers in the NBA last year and led the league in block percentage at 10.0%.
Kornet is rather one-dimensional on both ends (he makes 3s and blocks shots) and doesn't move well enough to be considered a true rotational player. But he's a flier worth taking a risk on and fills a need at backup center behind Carter. It was never feasible that second-round pick Daniel Gafford was going to play big minutes as a rookie, while Lauri Markkanen likely will only see scant center minutes.
But it's just a two-year deal, meaning the Bulls save all-important cap space for 2021, and Kornet should only help a Bulls offense that made the fewest 3-pointers in the NBA a year ago.