Bulls

NBA Draft Tracker: Villanova SF Mikal Bridges

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Villanova SF Mikal Bridges

Given the Bulls recent stretch of winning 10 of 12 games, and the impending return of their best player Zach LaVine, it might be a good idea to start looking at draft prospects that fall in the back half of the lottery.

Villanova swingman Mikal Bridges is an intriguing prospect at the Bulls' biggest position of need. The 6-foot-6 junior combines 3-point shooting range with impressive quickness to get to the basket. He’s already delivered several highlight reel plays with thunderous dunks after blowing by an initial defender.

Bridges will get maximum exposure during tournament season, playing for one of the top teams in the country. While Chicago area point guard Jalen Brunson handles primary ballhandling responsibilities for Villanova, Bridges excels as a secondary shot creator from the wing. He attacks closeouts with a lightning-quick first step and has the leaping ability to finish at the rim over taller help defenders.

How does Bridges fit for the Bulls? Right now, wing minutes are being divided between Denzel Valentine, David Nwaba and Paul Zipser. Of course, that will change when LaVine returns, with Justin Holiday likely moving to small forward to accommodate LaVine taking over as the starting shooting guard. Holiday, Valentine and Nwaba are all signed for next season, but in looking at the Bulls' needs for the 2018-19 season, small forward and center (assuming a Robin Lopez trade) rank right at the top of the list.

Draft analysts have Bridges projected in the 10 to 14 range, and we all know John Paxson and Gar Forman are hoping to pick higher than that. But if the Bulls finish with somewhere around 25 to 30 wins, they’ll most likely be drafting in the 7 to 10 range, and a talented scoring wing like Bridges could provide an immediate upgrade at the small forward position.

Because of Villanova’s top 5 status, the Wildcats are on national television all the time. So when you get a chance, take a closer look at Bridges, and picture him in a lineup with LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markannen. Bridges might not be a franchise-changing talent like Marvin Bagley, Deandre Ayton or Trae Young, but he could turn out to be next season’s Kyle Kuzma, and that would be an excellent addition for the rebuilding Bulls.

Bulls bring back Shaq Harrison on a one-year deal

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USA TODAY

Bulls bring back Shaq Harrison on a one-year deal

The Bulls' defense just got a whole lot better.

Just a few hours after signing free agent center Luke Kornet, the Bulls have brought back guard Shaq Harrison on a one-year deal.

Harrison's non-guaranteed deal had been waived earlier in the month to make room for Thaddeus Young's three-year, $41 million deal.

It's not an Earth-shattering move that will shift any championship odds in Vegas, but Harrison's return gives the Bulls an outstanding defender and a 25-year-old who spread his wings offensively toward the end of last season.

Harrison's defensive worth really can't be understated. He was statistically one of the best defensive guards in the NBA last season.

His offense is another story. He doesn't exactly have ball-handling capability and his shooting splits - .432/.270/.667 - were nothing to write home about. He averaged 6.5 points in 19.6 minutes.

But he also took on an increased role late in the season with the Bulls "resting" their top-tier players. Over the final 10 games of the season, averaging 30.8 minutes a night, Harrison averaged 12.8 points on 45.8% shooting, 35.3% from deep and even managed 2.2 assists.

He'll slot in somewhere behind Zach LaVine on the second unit, with he, Denzel Valentine, Coby White and Kris Dunn (for now) battling for minutes in the backcourt.

Additional moves could be coming for the Bulls, who could still easily waive Antonio Blakeney's contract or deal Dunn to get the Bulls to 15 contracts. Kornet and Harrison would give the Bulls 16 contracts.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Concerns and optimism for Bulls after offseason moves

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Concerns and optimism for Bulls after offseason moves

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Mark Strotman, and Matt Peck discuss NBA Summer League and Bulls odds to make the postseason.

0:45       Impressions of Bulls at Summer League and not overreacting

2:00       On concern over Coby White’s 3-point shooting

3:25       On the positive signs from White in Vegas

4:40       On the pushback that Ricky O’Donnell got from suggesting Arci may be ahead of White in the rotation

7:30       Did the Bulls have an underrated offseason?

9:45       How the biggest concern and reason for optimism is health

12:00    Why a deeper roster puts more pressure on Jim Boylen and his staff

16:10    Any chance of John Sabine trying out for the Windy City Bulls?

17:05    Our favorites in the wide open Western Conference and can the Lakers make it work?

21:55    Can the Bucks put it together and win the East next season?

25:10    Darkhorse team in either conference?

28:05    Is it too much to expect the Bulls to make the playoffs?

Bulls Talk Podcast

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