Bulls

NBA Draft Big Board Check In 1.0: RJ Barrett nets 4th triple double in Duke history, Ja Morant sets OVC single-season assists record

NBA Draft Big Board Check In 1.0: RJ Barrett nets 4th triple double in Duke history, Ja Morant sets OVC single-season assists record

Mark Schanowski's Big Board 5.0 had some movement, particularly around the bottom half of the top 10. We take the time to go over some of the best performances of the week from prospects on Schanowski's NBA Draft Big Board. 

RJ Barrett, Duke: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 0 turnovers 

The 18-year old Canadian joined some elite Blue Devil company, netting the first triple-double since Sheldon Williams in 2006. It was also the fourth triple double all-time in Duke basketball history.

We've seen Barrett rack up nice point and rebound totals before, but we rarely see him play under control. On Saturday night, Barrett had zero turnovers in an NCAA game for this first time in his career. 

His 3-point shot wasn't falling, but Barrett went 6/6 from the free throw line and flashed the abilty to score from the midrange, a crucial part of his game, especially if it takes awhile for his 3-point jumper to fully develop. 

Despite Barrett's jumper being maddeningly inconsistent, his ability to get into the lane with allow him to thrive in the NBA. If he beats his man off the dribble—which he does with regularity—a help defender has to commit to getting his way early or else.....

Barrett (vis Basketball Reference) has the second highest assist rate on the team behind point guard Tre Jones and one of the lowest turnover rates on the team as well. If Barrett keeps taking steps forward as a playmaker, then any concerns about his inconsistent shooting or defense take a backseat to that development. 

De'Andre Hunter, Virginia: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block 

Hunter is the prototypical 3-and-D small forward prospect. He has great length, strong hands, and is capable of guarding bigger players in the post and holding his own against smaller/faster players on the perimeter. And on offense Hunter is a knockdown shooter who has improved as a playmaker as well. So far in the 2018-19 season, Hunter is shooting a hyper efficient 45.1 percent from the 3-point line and 53.3 percent from the field. In Virginia's win over Notre Dame on Saturday, Hunter came up big time with a 20-point, 10-rebound double double. 

His overall steal and block rates have dropped from his (also great) freshman season but make no mistake, he is still the best defender on one of the toughest defensive squads in the nation (that currently ranks third in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency per Kenpom.com).

Whatever team takes Hunter knows what they are getting, though he obviously has tons of room for development. His feel for the game is in question, especially on offense where he can sometimes show a suprising lack of aggression for a player who scores just under 15 PPG. 

The most important thing that Hunter did in the win over Notre Dame was getting to the free throw line. Hunter went 6/7 from the charity stripe against the Fighting Irish, the most FT attempts he has had in a game since January 29.

Ja Morant, Murray State: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 14 assists, 3 steals, 1 block 

The prospect that the Bulls have been linked to most in recent weeks in none other than viral sensation Ja Morant of Murray State. John Paxson was recently spotted at a Murray State game scouting Morant, and this comes on the heels of the Bulls publicly stating that they are still evaluating what they have at point guard. In his latest game, a win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, Morant netted a 25-point, 14-assist double double.

Mmorant was explosive in getting into the teeth of the defense, finishing 5/6 from the free throw line. His turnovers aren't a huge concern, as he obviously is the main (only?) ballhandler on his team. That being said, 9 turnovers are unacceptable, and it is the fourth time this season that Morant has ended a game with 9 or more turnovers. 

On the positive side, Morant's teammates shot a combined 63.6 percent from the field in the win over Eastern Kentucky, showing just how vital Morant's 14 assists were to the Racers' offense. Those 14 dimes also helped Morant make some history on the evening.

And on the scoring side of things, he had one his most efficient shooting nights in quite some time, going 9/17 from the field, which included a solid 2/5 (40 percent) shooting from 3-point range. His 3-point percentage for the season is at 32.5 percent. That figure isn't great, but it is better than his freshman year and on a greater volume of attempts, which shows a good amount of growth from the young guard. 

https://twitter.com/Mike_Schmitz/status/1083541053351882752His jumpshot form leads me to believe that he will not become an elite off the dribble 3-point shooter at any point inthe NBA, but as we've seen throughout his NCAA career, a lack of a pull-up 3-point shot won't stop Ja from becoming a great scorer at the next level.

Zion Williamson, Duke: 32 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals

There aren't any new developments as far as Williamson's NBA Draft stock goes. He was extremely aggressive and finish with 16 field goal attempts, his third highest in a single game this season. Williamson converted on 75 percent of his shots, which again, falls in line with his absolutely ridiculous 68 percent shooting from the field on the season. 

Williamson's final stat line in the win over NC State was 32 points, 6 rebounds, an assist and 3 steals in 30 minutes of action. 

And while his dominance over NC State was on Saturday night was superb, NBA fans were already thinking about what Zion's first NBA All-Star weekened will look like.

Derrick Rose's unforgettable playoff debut

Derrick Rose's unforgettable playoff debut

Derrick Rose had already established himself as the odds-on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award when the 2009 NBA playoffs opened on April 18th in Boston. The defending champion Celtics were expected to make short work of the Bulls, who earned the #7 seed with a 41-41 record under 1st year coach Vinny Del Negro.

While the game was nationally televised, Kendall Gill, Stacey King and I huddled up in one of our station’s conference rooms to watch the playoff opener and prepare for our post-game coverage on what was then Comcast SportsNet.

What we saw was one of the most electric performances of Rose’s career. He made defensive ace Rajon Rondo look like he was wearing cement sneakers, driving to the basket with that extra gear of speed few players possess.

When it was over, Rose had tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the highest scoring playoff debut in NBA history, finishing with 36 points on 12 of 19 shooting from the field and a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line, leading the Bulls to an upset win over the defending champs, 105-103 in overtime. Rose also dished out 11 assists, showcasing the play-making ability that would make him one of the league’s most feared players.

Afterwards, the soft-spoken Rose downplayed his record-tying performance, saying simply, “I just thought about it like I was playing in a regular game.”

But his coach was more than impressed, Del Negro telling reporters, “He has a quiet confidence about him and he’s only going to get better. If people aren’t familiar with Derrick, then they’re not basketball fans.”

Rondo had a great offensive game for Boston, leading the Celtics with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, but conceded that chasing the warp speed rookie had taken its toll on him physically. “I’ll be fine Monday”, Rondo said afterwards. “Just now, I’m extremely tired.”

While hosting the postgame show that afternoon, I remember being amazed at the confidence the 20 year old Rose showed in dissecting one of the league’s best defenses. His poise under pressure was one of his greatest strengths, and his ability to get to the rim and finish high difficulty shots would make even the most experienced reporter reach for superlatives.

Stacey gained a national following describing the exploits of the humble, high-flying star from Chicago, and his call of Rose’s dunk over Phoenix guard Goran Dragic is still a YouTube classic.

It really was an amazing ride covering Derrick’s 8 years as a member of the Bulls and that playoff game in Boston will always stand out as one of his career highlights. The Bulls went on to lose that 1st round series in 7 classic games, but the rest of the league was put on notice.

Derrick Rose was going to be one of the most exciting young talents the league had ever seen.

Season in Review: Ryan Arcidiacono checks all the boxes in pleasantly surprising season

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USA TODAY

Season in Review: Ryan Arcidiacono checks all the boxes in pleasantly surprising season

Over the next month we'll be recapping each of the Bulls' individual 2018-19 regular seasons.

Previous reviews: Lauri Markkanen | Shaq Harrison

Preseason expectations: Arcidiacono made waves in Summer League by connecting on nearly 48 percent of his 3-point attempts in five games but only played 34 minutes in five preseason games, leading many to believe he would be the odd man out with the Bulls already having Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne. He surprisingly made the team in mid-October, only for the Bulls to sign both Tyler Ulis and Shaq Harrison the following week. And yet Arcidiacono stuck on the 15-man roster, presumably as emergency depth behind Dunn and Payne.

What went right: Relatively speaking, just about everything. Arcidiacono became a focal point when Kris Dunn suffered a sprained MCL in the first week of the season. He took over the starting job from Cam Payne in early November and didn’t relinquish it until Dunn returned. Payne was eventually waived and Arcidiacono assume back-up duties before entering the starting lineup again when Zach LaVine missed five games with a sprained ankle.

Arcidiacono excelled as both a perimeter threat (38 percent from beyond the arc), an exceptional distributor with the first unit (he had nine games of five or more assists as a starter) and provided exceptional energy and hustle that enamored Jim Boylen the entire season. He was a glue guy but also a rather efficient one: his 34.3% assist rate led the team, his 54.8% effective field goal percentage was third behind Otto Porter and Robin Lopez, and he 4.23 assist-to-turnover ratio was third in the NBA. He did just about everything asked of him, played multiple positions and did it end-to-end. He was accountable, too, leading the Bulls with 81 games played; he was a DNP-CD in the third game of the season and played the final 79.

What went wrong: He certainly has his limitations and his lack of size was an issue defensively. He also went through an ice-cold stretch from Nov. 30 to Feb. 22, when he shot 25.6 percent from deep over a 37-game span. He wasn’t a consistent outside threat, though his changing role in that span could have accounted for some of that. But that’s about it. Arcidiacono was reliable, versatile and played with *spirit and soul* from start to finish. His ceiling isn’t all that high, but his floor is.

The Stat: 1.9 on 45.5

Arcidiacono was lights out from beyond the arc to begin the season. From Oct. 18 to Nov. 28, he made 1.9 3-pointers per game at a 45.5 percent clip. The only other players to reach those marks in that span were Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Danilo Gallinari, Buddy Hield, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris and Bryn Forbes. Three of those players (Curry, Hield, Harris) competed in the 3-Point Shootout at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.

He also shot better than 44 percent from deep over the final 23 games of the season. From Feb. 23 until April 10, he was one of 24 players to do so.

2019-20 Expectations: It’ll be a numbers game for the Bulls and Arcidiacono. His hot stretch to end the season and his consistent effort will make him a target in restricted free agency. It’s no secret the Bulls want him back but they’ve also got Kris Dunn under contract and likely will be addressing the point guard position in the draft or free agency. He could have priced himself out of Chicago.

If he returns, his expectations will be a more consistent outside shot and continued managing of the second unit. His aforementioned ceiling will keep him from adding a bunch to his game, but if he can take care of the ball and hover around 39 percent from deep all year – instead of going 45 percent to 25 percent and back to 45 percent – he’ll be a valuable piece to the bench and the perfect role player.