Bulls

NBA Draft Tracker: Duke PF Marvin Bagley III

bagley.png
USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Duke PF Marvin Bagley III

Bulls fans have heard the phrase more than a few times,: “Secure the Bagley.” As in, secure Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III. The 18-year-old Bagley might be the top player available in a loaded 2018 draft. At 6-foot-11, 234 pounds, the lanky lefty is already drawing comparisons to former NBA All-Star Chris Bosh because of his smooth scoring ability in the post and from the perimeter.

Bagley’s instant success at the Division I level is even more impressive considering he was originally supposed to be a high school senior before getting reclassified to become eligible at Duke. Going up against one of the most demanding schedules in college basketball, Bagley is averaging more than 22 points and 11 rebounds per game, while shooting 62.6 percent from the field. He’s amazingly quick off his feet for a big man, capable of putting back offensive rebounds with multiple jumps or rejecting shots on the defensive end. And the scary thing is, he’s probably not done growing!

Bagley might not have Bosh’s 3-point shooting range just yet, but he’s making a respectable 34 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. And remember, Bosh was primarily a low post player during his early years in Toronto. NBA scouts are confident Bagley will develop into a consistent outside threat, making his versatile low post game even tougher to defend.

How does Bagley fit for the Bulls? Well, a player as talented as Bagley would be a great fit on all 30 NBA teams. His height and skill set can make him a weapon on the defensive end, protecting the rim as a post defender while using his speed and quickness to switch out on perimeter players. And that same skill set will make him a nightmare cover for opposing power forwards and centers. Yes, the Bulls have depth at the power forward spot, but there’s no reason why Bagley and Lauri Markkanen couldn’t play effectively together. Both are tall enough to defend in the post and both have the shooting range to knock down triples. In today’s position-less NBA, having two versatile athletes in the 7-foot range could be a pretty formidable weapon.

Problem is, unless the Bulls win one of the top picks in the draft lottery, Bagley will be long gone. At the midway point of the college season, Bagley, Deandre Ayton and International guard Luka Doncic are getting the most attention as possible No. 1 overall picks in June. Team needs could play a role in which player eventually goes first, but one of the franchises lucky enough to earn a top-3 pick will be able to tell their fans they have “secured the Bagley.”

Season in Review: Otto Porter shoots the lights out in small sample size

ottoporter.png
USA TODAY

Season in Review: Otto Porter shoots the lights out in small sample size

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

Previous reviews: Lauri Markkanen | Shaq Harrison | Ryan Arcidiacono

Midseason expectations: Otto Porter Jr. arrived in Chicago the same night the Bulls posted a 126.3 offensive rating in a 125-120 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Maybe that was foreshadowing for how the offense would look two days later when Porter made his Bulls debut. That was the expectation, at least, that Porter would infuse life into a stagnant Bulls offense, space the floor and give the Bulls some versatility on the defensive end. Given the Bulls were 12-42 when Porter arrived, the expectation was that he’d gain some chemistry with Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen heading into the 2019-2020 season when he’d have an entire offseason to figure out a defined role.

What went right: How about 49 percent from beyond the arc? Again, it was a small sample size, but Porter connected on 39 of his 80 3-point attempts in 15 games with the Bulls. Perhaps a change of scenery and leaving that nightmare of a John Wall-less Wizards offense, was exactly what he needed. Past his lights-out shooting, Porter showed a knack for distributing that he rarely showed in Washington.

Consider that Porter had 40 assists in 15 games with the Bulls, half of the 80 assists he had with the Wizards in 41 games. He had a career-high eight assists for the Bulls in a March game against the Pistons, three more than his high in Washington last season. Porter is never going to initiate offense but playing well in pick-and-roll action and keeping the ball moving around the perimeter only adds to his value.

What went wrong: Pegged as two-way player when he arrived in Chicago, Porter didn’t do all that much on the defensive end. The Bulls were 1.1 points per 100 possessions better defensively when Porter sat than when he played. It’s a small sample size, and the Bulls defense was a mess regardless of who was or wasn’t on the floor, but it’s hard to pick out any real significant defensive plays that Porter made in his 15 games.

The Stat: 111.5

We’ll disclaim here that it was just a 17-game sample size, but that’s still more than 20 percent of the season. In the 17 games between Porter’s acquisition and when he was shut down for the remainder of the season, the Bulls’ 111.5 offensive rating was ninth best in the NBA, better than teams such as the Warriors, Hawks, Sixers and Nuggets.

What’s more, their turnover percentage (13.3%, 13th), effective field goal percentage (53.0%, 11th) and offensive rebound percentage (26.1%, 15th) were all top half of the league. It was their best stretch of the season, and it was no coincidence that it came while Porter was in the lineup and healthy. Small-ish sample size? Yes. Still promising? Yes.

2019-20 Expectations: A lot. No, the Bulls didn’t give Porter that massive contract. But it’s going to stick with him as long as the Bulls are paying him. Expectations are clear: Continue to be an elite 3-point shooter and move the ball – whether it be around the perimeter or in pick-and-roll action – once the defense shifts.

Speaking of defense, Porter will be tasked with changing the narrative in Chicago. The Bulls need to improve their defense if they’re going to have any change of competing for a playoff spot and much of that responsibility will fall on Porter. He’ll routinely be guarding the opponent’s best wing and will need to hide Zach LaVine at times. It’s a tall order, but it comes with the territory while making $27 million per year.

Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?

jrue.jpg
USA TODAY

Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?

According to a story by Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney, the Bulls may be looking for help in the form of one of the NBA’s better two-way players.

In the post, Deveney goes over the most salient points made by brand new New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin. This included the fact that Griffin stated that Pels head coach Alvin Gentry will be back and that Jrue Holiday is considered “a franchise building block”.

This could be a bit of gamesmanship from Griffin, hoping to drive up the asking price for an All-Star caliber player such as Holiday.

But Deveney suggests that New Orleans may indeed be serious about their efforts to keep building with Holiday on the roster. Deveney stated, “if the Pelicans don't trade Holiday, it will set up the team for an attempt at a fast turnaround rather than a long, slogging rebuild......It will also frustrate teams looking for a versatile point guard in his prime, hoping that Holiday would be on the block.”

Phoenix was mentioned as the “top contender” for Holiday’s services should he be made available, as the Suns are one of the few teams with an obvious hole at PG. Along with the Suns, Chicago and Orlando were the other teams listed as having interest in Holiday. The Magic completed a low-risk trade during the 2018-19 season that landed them 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, so they may not be inclined to give up solid assets in a deal.

As far as the Bulls are concerned, any serious inquires on Holiday are likely to come after the May 14 NBA Draft lottery.

Depending on where the Bulls lottery pick ends up, the Pelicans could be much more inclined to make a deal with the Chicago front office. The Pelicans ended the season tied with Memphis and Dallas for the 7th spot in the draft lottery odds, and their specific organizational goals could make moving up in the draft order worth losing a valuable player like Jrue Holiday. And for the Bulls, nabbing a player like Holiday helps build onto the positive team culture that Jim Boylen wants to establish and gives the Bulls a perfect guard to pair in the backcourt with Zach LaVine.