Bulls

NBA Buzz: Former Chicago area prep star could be an option for Bulls

NBA Buzz: Former Chicago area prep star could be an option for Bulls

With all the attention devoted to the Bulls' options with the 7th overall pick, we sometimes forget they also have a selection in the 2nd round, No. 38 overall, which came from Memphis in the Justin Holiday trade.

It's possible that pick could be involved in a draft night trade or used to select a European player who might not come to the NBA for a few years, but if the Bulls are looking for someone who could possibly crack the rotation next season, there should be several good players available.

One of them is local product Admiral Schofield, a 6'6" swingman out of Tennessee. Schofield graduated from north suburban Zion-Benton high school in 2015, earning 2nd team All-State honors for Class 4A schools from the Associated Press. And even though he didn't get a chance to watch the Bulls' six championship runs, he learned about Michael Jordan very early in life.

At the recent NBA Draft Combine, Schofield told reporters, "Ever since I was young, my dad handed me these VHS tapes, His Airness, Air Time and Come Fly With Me. I used to play those over and over and over. I wanted to be just like Mike. Honestly, running back and forth, dunking on my Fisher-Price rim, just playing in the house and my family announcing, No. 23 Admiral Schofield! Having those dreams and being in the NBA has always been there. Michael Jordan really put that it my mind, that's always been my imagination, and you know what, it's coming to fruition now."

Schofield teamed with Grant Williams and Jordan Bone to lead Tennessee to a 31-6 record this past season. The Volunteers lost a Sweet 16 thriller to Purdue in the NCAA Tournament, 99-94, with Schofield scoring 21 points and pulling down 8 rebounds. At 6'6", 240 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, Schofield's versatility should serve him well in the modern NBA.

"I'm a position-less player, and most teams see me that way, being able to guard 2 through 4, being able to switch and slow down the best scorers in the league, being able to knock down corner 3's. You know, come off pindowns, dribble-handoffs, different things. But really, just helping keeping the flow and impacting winning, just like I did at the University of Tennessee."

Schofield is a rare four-year collegian, whose experience and maturity should allow him to play immediately at the pro level. He averaged 16.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2 assists during his senior year at Tennessee, shooting 47 percent from the field and nearly 42 percent from 3-point range.

It's no secret the Bulls are looking to upgrade a bench unit that featured a number of G-League call-ups late last season. Schofield could be a fit as a backup shooting guard and small forward, but even though he likes the idea of playing in Chicago, he hopes to move out of the early 2nd round with strong showings during individual team workouts.

"It would be great to be able to play for the Bulls, be at home. Hopefully, I can go earlier than where they pick, or they move up to get me, that would be great. You know, I'm aiming for the 1st round right now. I think I deserve to be there, and I'll be working towards that."

But if Schofield can't achieve his goal of moving into the first round, a Chicago homecoming would be a nice consolation prize. After all, he already knows his way around, which gave him a built-in advantage during the draft combine. "It feels like I'm at home. When I first got here, before I started my real work, I got me some deep dish, went walking around on Michigan Avenue, really got the feel down. I haven't been back in a long time, so it's just great to feel like I'm being here at home."

Schofield wore No. 5 during his college career at Tennessee, the same number worn by the guy who will make the final call on draft night, Bulls' Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations John Paxson. And, it just so happens that number is available on the current roster. Maybe it's not the No. 23 Schofield dreamed about as a child, but it still would be quite a story for the Chicago area high school star to play his NBA home games in the house that Jordan built.

AROUND THE ASSOCIATION

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We're now less than three weeks away from the NBA draft, and speculation is running wild about possible trades inside the top 10. Cleveland currently holds the 5th overall selection, and the Cavs have been rumored to be exploring what it might cost to acquire the No. 3  pick from the Knicks to draft high-scoring Duke swingman R.J. Barrett. New York reportedly likes Cam Reddish almost as much as Barrett, and might be willing to trade down to pick up a future draft pick.

The Cavs are all over the map right now, with reported interest in several players, including Reddish, Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver and Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter. If the Lakers pass on Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland with the 4th overall pick, don't discount the possibility of the Bulls making an offer to trade up to No. 5 to grab their point guard of the future. The cost would likely be their 7th overall pick and a top 10 protected 2020 1st round pick, but with so many young players already on the roster, the price would probably be worth it if the front office believes Garland is the right guy to run their offense for years to come.

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Reddish probably has the widest range of any lottery prospect right now, with mock drafts having him going anywhere from 4th to 10th. The well-respected Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders has Reddish going 4th to the Lakers, which could really shake up the top 10. Even though Reddish only shot 33 percent from the college 3-point line in his one season at Duke, some scouts believe he has as much "star" potential as any player outside the top 3. It's no secret the Lakers are looking for shooters to play with LeBron James, but they already have a pair of young forwards in Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Unless of course, one or both of them wind up going to New Orleans in an Anthony Davis trade. The Lakers have also been linked to Garland, who's represented by James' agent, Rich Paul. Garland left the combine early after receiving a promise from a lottery team, which many speculated had to be the Lakers. But not every promise holds the same degree of certainty, and given all the dysfunction in the Lakers' organization right now, you'd have to believe GM Rob Pelinka, or whoever is calling the shots these days, would want to keep his (or her) options open with so many possible trade scenarios in play on draft night.

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Back to Davis, who met with the Pelicans' new front office boss David Griffin earlier this week. While Griffin is determined to convince Davis the future is bright in New Orleans with the upcoming addition of Zion Williamson, reports indicate AD hasn't changed his stance on his trade demand. Boston was believed to be in prime position to make the best offer for Davis, but if Kyrie Irving decides to leave in free agency, the Celtics might choose to build around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, along with veterans Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. That could force Griffin to turn back to the Lakers to find out if they'll make a "Godfather" offer of the No. 4 overall pick along with some combination of Ingram, Kuzma and Lonzo Ball for Davis. The Clippers and Knicks are also on AD's list of preferred trade destinations, but neither team has the same quality combination of young players and draft picks that the Celtics or Lakers can offer. Speculation about a possible Davis deal will generate the most buzz as we get closer to the draft on June 20th.

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And finally, as if things aren't crazy enough in the league as we brace for a titanic offseason, the Houston Rockets are looking to blow up the team that gave the Warriors their stiffest challenge in the Western Conference over the last two years. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports Rockets' GM Daryl Morey has let teams know he's willing to move anyone on the roster outside of James Harden in an attempt to get some salary cap flexibility and lottery picks. Good luck finding a taker for 34-year old point guard Chris Paul, who's due to make $38.5, $41.3 and $44.2 million dollars over the next three seasons.

Morey has found more interest in young center Clint Capela, who has four more years left on a lucrative contract he signed last summer, and NBA teams will also be interested in high-scoring 6th man Eric Gordon, who has one year left on his deal at an affordable $14 million.

The Rockets are also re-tooling their coaching staff, firing several of Mike D'Antoni's assistants. The 68-year old D'Antoni decided to break off negotiations about a contract extension, telling reporters he will be back for the 2019-20 season on the final year of his contract and then see where things go from there. Morey has long been known as one of the league's most aggressive executives, but given the Rockets' cap constraints, he'll have to be incredibly creative to give Harden a better supporting cast next season.

How does Coby White's Summer League compare to past Lottery point guards?

How does Coby White's Summer League compare to past Lottery point guards?

Summer League results are largely irrelevant. There's our disclaimer.

Whether Bulls' first-round draft pick Coby White succeeds in the NBA will have nothing to do with how he performed the last 10 days in Las Vegas. Use this tweet as a daily reminder that Summer League performance doesn't always tell the story.

That being said, it's all we've got to go on right now. But instead of analyzing White's up-and-down Summer League performance, let's compare it to other Lottery point guards in their first Summer League games. We'll begin with White.

Coby White, 2019, Bulls: 15.0 points, 4.8 assists, 33.7% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 3.8 turnovers, 30.8 minutes

White was a mixed bag in Las Vegas, showing the ability to push pace, get to the rim with a lightning-quick first step and knock down some mid-range jumpers. But he was also careless with the ball, made just 3 of 30 3-point attempts (and two of those makes came in a 20-second span) and didn't shoot above 44% in any of the five games he appeared in. He's still quite raw running the point, so the inefficiency was expected. The flashes he showed at times told much more of the story. 

Trae Young, 2018, Hawks: 17.0 points, 6.8 assists, 38.3% FG, 38.7% 3FG, 3.8 turnovers, 25.8 minutes

Many remember Young being abysmal in Salt Lake City to begin his pro career. But he was actually solid in Las Vegas, including a 24-point, 7-triple performance against the Bulls. Young was one of the biggest question marks heading into the draft, with real concerns about how his small frame would withstand the NBA game - but Young is showing all the signs of a future All-Star. In 23 games after last year's All-Star break, Young averaged 24.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game.

Collin Sexton, 2018, Cavaliers: 19.6 points, 3.4 assists, 42.9% FG, 23.1% 3FG, 3.3 turnovers, 28.8 minutes

Sexton was also a mixed bag in Vegas. He had a pair of explosive games, like his 25-point outing on 9 of 15 shooting against the Kings and his 27-point effort against the Lakers. But Sexton was also inefficient, didn't show much from beyond the arc (a concern of his heading into the draft) and didn't do much creating for others. He wound up excelling as a rookie, averaging 16.7 points and 3.0 assists for the Cavs. And while it only came on 3.6 attempts per game, his 40.2% from beyond the arc was a major positive after he struggled in Las Vegas.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 2018, Clippers: 19.0 points, 4.0 assists, 45.8% FG, 25.0% 3FG, 2.2 turnovers, 27.8 minutes

Gilgeous-Alexander was one of the more impressive rookies at the Las Vegas Summer League a year ago. He was efficient across the board and, in addition to the above numbers, added 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. In fact, he was the first player in Summer League history to average 19 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. That transitioned to the regular season, where SGA played an important role - albeit a smaller one - for the playoff-bound Clippers. And his 3-point field goal percentage blossomed to 36.7% in the regular season.

Lonzo Ball, 2017, Lakers: 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, 38.2% FG, 23.8% 3FG, 3.8 turnovers, 32.5 minutes

All eyes were on the Big Baller in Summer League, and Ball responded with six really impressive games. His passing acumen was on full display and he was a blur in transition. His defense was as good as anyone he played with or against - he averaged 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game - and, given the hype surrounding him, his summer was a rousing success. The verdict's still out on Ball, but his defense and passing will keep him as a solid NBA contributor the next 10 seasons at the very least.

De’Aaron Fox, 2017, Kings: 11.8 points, 3.0 assists, 44.4% FG% 12.5% 3FG, 2.5 turnovers, 21.3 minutes

Fox looked overwhelmed at times during his Summer League stint. Like White, it took him some time to figure out playing at different speeds and it resulted in some inefficient lines. His best games came early in the summer, going for 18 points in his debut and adding 17 more a few days later. Fox played just 7 minutes in his final Summer League outing, which distorted his per-game numbers quite a bit (he had 0 points and 3 assists in that one). Fox was largely invisible as a rookie but finished third in the Most Improved Player voting as a sophomore. He's the real deal.

Dennis Smith Jr., 2017, Mavericks: 17.3 points, 4.2 assists, 45.7% FG, 34.6% 3FG, 2.8 turnovers, 25.9 minutes

Smith didn't have the buzz around him that Ball and Fox did, but he may have been the most impressive rookie point guard in 2017. He played above the rim, made 3-pointers and looked comfortable in pick-and-roll action. He also added 2.2 steals and got to the free throw line 7.3 times per game. He was named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team, but it didn't really translate to the NBA. Smith has been incredibly inefficient, and the Mavericks dealt him halfway through his sophomore season in the Kristaps Porzingis deal.

Kris Dunn, 2016, Timberwolves: 24.0 points, 3.0 assists, 54.2% FG, 16.7% 3FG, 3.0 turnovers, 33.9 minutes

Jamal Murray, 2016, Nuggets: 19.6 points, 2.4 assists, 42.5% FG, 27.6% 3FG, 2.8 turnovers, 29.5 minutes

D’Angelo Russell, 2015, Nets: 11.8 points, 3.2 assist, 37.7% FG, 11.8% 3FG, 5.2 turnovers, 30.1 minutes

Emmanuel Mudiay, 2015, Nuggets: 12.0 points, 5.8 assists, 38.5% FG, 14.3% 3FG, 5.0 turnovers, 30.4 minutes

Cameron Payne, 2015, Thunder: 18.8 points, 4.0 assists, 43.6% FG, 28.6% 3FG, 2.5 turnovers, 30.0 minutes

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.