Bulls

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr.

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr.

If you’ve been following NBA mock drafts since the college season began, you’ll notice Michigan State power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has been rising steadily. NBADraft.net actually has Jackson going second in its latest mock.

There’s no questioning Jackson’s physical talent. The 6-foot-11 freshman runs the floor like a gazelle and has explosive leaping ability, ranking fifth in the country with 3.2 blocked shots per game. He also has an NBA pedigree. His father played 13 seasons in the NBA as a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, averaging 5.5 points a game mostly in a reserve role, which included a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.

Jackson has excellent shooting touch for a big man, hitting just under 40 percent of his 3-point tries, but he’s not a major factor in the Michigan State offense, averaging only 6.8 shots per game. His scoring average of 11.3 points ranks only fifth on a Spartans team currently ranked fourth in the country. Foul trouble has been an issue for Jackson, but he’s also been content to watch center Nick Ward, swingman Miles Bridges and guards Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston carry the offense.

What does this mean for Jackson’s pro future? Well, judging by the mock drafts, not much. NBA coaches will find a way to get a player as talented as Jackson more shots, and he should be able to take advantage of his quickness to drive past slower defenders at the pro level.

Jackson reminds some scouts of Kevin Garnett with his physical tools, but he doesn’t have the competitive fire (bordering on rage) that drove Garnett to become one of the all-time greats at the power forward position. A more realistic comp might be Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors, who possesses Jackson’s blend of shot-blocking talent and long-range shooting touch.

How would Jackson fit with the Bulls? Well, unless the Bulls get lucky in the lottery, he figures to be long gone before they make their pick. Bulls big man Bobby Portis is another decent comp for Jackson given Portis' size at 6-foot-11 and his 3-point shooting ability, so drafting Jackson would mean some duplication of skill sets. But given the way the NBA game is trending, Jackson could play center at the pro level, especially given his ability as a rim protector. If Jackson slips to the Bulls, I’m sure they could find a way to utilize three talented bigs, including Lauri Markkanen.

The upcoming NCAA tournament offers a great chance to Bulls fans to get a close look at some of the top prospects in the country. And keep an eye on Michigan State because either Jackson or Bridges could wind up in Chicago, depending on how the lottery combinations land on May 15.

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr. grabbed some attention when he remarked that he was "perfect fit for today's NBA game" during an appearance on The Will Cain Show.

The interview went a long way towards showing off the uber-confident nature of Porter, who has consistently talked about being the best player in his class throughout the draft process. Porter also remarked that he was "an immediate impact guy," and that he "doesn't want it to take long to be one of the best players in the NBA."

His hubris has been intruiging considering the mystery surrounding the prospect.

During the interview Porter added that he would be open to doing more workouts for NBA front offices ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft. The only workout he has completed so far was his pro day workout in Chicago, and multiple reports have cited that Porter did look good shooting, though he was in an isolated setting with no defenders.

The one thing Porter has not done much throughout the process is talk about his weaknesses, which is somewhat concerning seeing as he has much to improve on. The general consensus is that a healthy Porter can get buckets at will. But if he can improve his ball-handling, rebounding and passing skills, he will be much more than a go-to scorer. Tightening his ball-handling skills is likely the key, as the ability to grab the rebound and push in transition would be a huge boon for Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The biggest question when it comes to Porter on the Bulls is can he fit with Lauri Markkanen? Despite receiving many favorable Kevin Durant and Paul George comparisons leading up to the draft, there is a rising sentiment that his best position in the NBA may be the power forward spot. It is not yet known if he has the foot speed to stay in front of quicker wings in today's NBA. But at six-feet-ten-inches, it is easy to imagine him having a huge advantage against slower power forwards rather than wings. While Markkanen is not currently built to be a full-time center, playing him at the five with Porter at the four would present Hoiberg with a potentially devastating closing lineup.

Versatility is the name of the game in today's league, and Michael Porter Jr. may be the key to unlocking the full potential of Hoiberg's pace-and-space attack. 

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

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USA TODAY

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

Just two years after being drafted in the second round, Paul Zipser told German media that he doesn’t see the Bulls wanting him next season.

The Bulls have until mid-July to pick up Zipser's option.

"I would not be surprised if they no longer want me.” Zipser said in German and translated via Google Translate

“Actually, I'm pretty sure I will not play in Chicago soon.”

Last month, Zipser had surgery on his fractured left foot, in his native country of Germany, which grew speculation the Bulls wouldn’t pick up his player option for next season. Zipser said the surgery "went perfectly."

Zipser showed some flashes of potential in his rookie season, averaging 5.5 per game and 2.8 rebounds in 44 games. But this past season, he played more games, but injuries derailed him from improving his overall production. He finished with four points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including 12 starts.

Zipser explained that things changed from his first year to his second year.

“They were very varied," Zipser said. "The first year was just going very well. I fought my way into the team from the beginning and showed how I can help the team. The Bulls just needed someone like me. That's why it worked so well. We benefited from each other - that's why we were successful.”

“That was very different. It was not right from the beginning, and I was already struggling with my injury. It was not quite clear what it is. If you have pain in your foot, you automatically go down a bit with intensity. You just do not want to hurt yourself and be completely out. It was then difficult for me to keep my head in the sport - I did not manage that well. Nevertheless, the injury should not be an excuse.”

Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Zipser might not dress up in a Bulls uniform next year.