Bulls

Mychal Mulder helps the Windy City Bulls secure 1st playoff berth in franchise history

Mychal Mulder helps the Windy City Bulls secure 1st playoff berth in franchise history

Mychal Mulder is a 6-foot-4 wing player who has adjusted his game in Year 2 with the Windy City Bulls program. The 24-year old Mulder is averaging 13.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.5 APG and shooting 40.7 percent from the 3PT line.

Mulder averaged 17.5 PPG over his last 12 contests before Tuesday’s loss to the Lakeland Magic, with Windy City going 10-2 over that span. His great stretch offensively helped the team secure their first playoff berth in franchise history.

Over the aforementioned 12-game stretch, the Bulls have the 4th highest offensive rating (112.0) and best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league (2.06). Mulder developed into a solid 3PT shooter over his two seasons under John Calipari at Kentucky but he has taken that to the next level over his two years in the G League.

Through 45 games in the 2018-19 season, Mulder is up to just under seven attempts per game from 3PT range.

His willingness to present a real threat from the perimeter provides a ton of space on the floor scorers like CJ Fair, JaKarr Sampson and Walter Lemon Jr.. These players find seams in the defense that largely exist because opponents have to pay attention to Mulder outside.

Fair (3.8 FTA per game), Lemon (3.7 FTA) and JaKarr Sampson (FTA 3.8) have been solid all season in terms of getting to the line, despite Windy City not ranking very high as a team in terms of trips to the charity stripe.

But that has changed as of late and as a result the team is 7th in the league in FTA per game (24.0), 1st in AST/TO ratio (1.95) and 14th (out of 28 teams) in offensive rating (112.7) over the last five games.

Heading into Friday morning, the Windy City Bulls are 27-21 and are only two games back of the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with two games left to play in the regular season.

It is only fitting that the same year the (Chicago) Bulls take a big step forward in their rebuild, the Windy City Bulls finally reached their goal of qualifying for the NBA G League postseason.

The NBA G League playoffs start on March 26 (at the earliest) and things will be high-pressure from the start with three single-elimination games preceding a best-of-three format in the NBA G League Finals.

When it comes to the development of the young players on the Bulls and the direction of the Windy City G League program, things are definitely looking up and all the credit in the world deserves to go to head coach Charlie Henry and the Bulls organization.

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Jim Boylen remains resolute in development goals for Bulls season

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USA Today

Jim Boylen remains resolute in development goals for Bulls season

The Bulls entered Tuesday night's matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder 20-38 and 1-8 in their last nine games. But head coach Jim Boylen, for his part, remained resolute — even optimistic — in comments to assorted media before the game.

“It is a win-loss league, but that’s not the only thing that gets evaluated,” said Boylen, who owns just a 37-79 record at the helm of the Bulls. “Are we establishing a style of play? I think we have. Have we cleaned up our defense that needed to be cleaned up? I think we have. Have we established a shot profile that’s top five in the league? I think we’re three right now in the shots we get compared to other teams. So those are all positive things.

“And then you can look at the what-ifs, which I don’t do very often. With our shot profile, what would Otto Porter do in that shot profile? He’d be pretty successful, and Lauri Markkanen, and right on down the line. I’m not worried about my personal record or my win-loss record. I’ve been asked to establish a style of play, to have a disciplined approach and develop a young group of guys.”

Boylen then went on to cite the progress of Coby White, Daniel Gafford and Cristiano Felicio as positives over the course of the season. And that’s fair. Still, his verbiage is a noticeable shift from before the season, when the playoffs were a stated goal.

“It is hard for me. But that’s not my calling. That’s not what they ask me to do,” Boylen said when asked if stacking losses has been hard for him as a competitor. “Nobody in this organization said to me, ‘You got to win this many games.’ Nobody said to me, ‘Hey, we’re going to talk about wins and losses all year.’ Not one time have they said that to me.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t want to win. It doesn’t mean we’re not trying to win, but nobody said that to me. I have to honor the organization with trying to do this thing the right way. If we do that and if we can get healthy, I feel good about it.”

What was and will be said behind closed doors can be speculated upon. What can’t be argued: The Bulls are 5.5 games out of the eighth seed, have beaten one above-.500 team this year and a playoff gasp is unlikely. And though Boylen alluded to how good Markkanen and Porter might look in the context of the team’s current shot profile, we saw Markkanen’s fit in practice for 46 games. With the caveat that he was battling nagging injuries all season, the results for the third-year forward were regression across the board. The team was 3-6 when Otto Porter Jr. fractured his foot on Nov. 6.

All of the above and more have culminated in reports of potential organizational change in the offseason. The exact nature of that change has yet to be determined, as does Boylen’s future with the team if the front office, coaching staff or player personnel is overhauled. 

But Boylen said his win-loss record being used against him in that evaluation would be a surprise.

“Yes, it would,” he said. “I don’t foresee that happening.”

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Coby White, Chris Paul share bond that's bigger than basketball

Coby White, Chris Paul share bond that's bigger than basketball

Coby White has scored a season-high 33 points in back-to-back games, but he's staying level-headed as hype and hysteria swirls around him.

“You’re going to have highs and lows over the season. I try to be the same throughout. That’s kind of how I live my life,” White said Tuesday. “It’s great and all but I just try to stay positive. A lot of people are saying congrats and whatnot. But I just have to keep getting better.”

This same approach served White well the last time he faced his mentor, Chris Paul. The Bulls blew leads of 26 points in the first half and 10 points in the fourth quarter to lose 109-106 at Oklahoma City in December.

Afterward, a posed picture of White and Paul smiling on the court after the gut-wrenching defeat landed on social media. Some critics pounced, saying that was neither the time nor place for fraternization.

Never mind that White played for Paul’s AAU team and received mental and emotional support from the All-Star guard as White’s father lost his battle with cancer.

“He means a lot to me and my family, especially me. He’s been there for me for a long time now,” White said. “I played for his AAU organization. He’s like a big brother, a mentor for me, someone I always looked up to and he’s always been by my side no matter what.

“Whenever I needed something, I knew I could call on him, and he had my back through anything. He’s always supported me through everything. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me.”

There are basketball benefits, as well. White studies Paul’s game, noting that he outscored the Bulls by himself 19-16 in that fateful fourth quarter in Oklahoma City.

“I love that he’s super smart. He’s a technician with the basketball. He can do it all — finish, get to the lane, shoot the 3. He’s such a leader, vocally and by example. He’s willing to go that extra mile for anything,” White said. “His leadership is what stood out to me. Even in AAU, him being the coach, you still see that Alpha Dog mentality with him on the sideline.”

White said the two talk occasionally during the season and certainly will Tuesday, no matter the outcome.

“Coming into the league, I wanted to be good really quickly. I know it doesn’t work like that,” White said. “So he just told me to be patient, keep grinding and everything will take care of itself.”

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