Observations from Bulls-Pistons: Detroit's offense is humming while Lauri's shot improves

Observations from Bulls-Pistons: Detroit's offense is humming while Lauri's shot improves

We’ll start off with a note on the Pistons. It’s cliché to discuss a team getting hot at the right time of the cusp of the postseason, but it’s exactly what Dwane Casey’s team is doing. Following a 10-point loss to the Bucks on Jan. 29 the Pistons began a run of 13 wins in their last 16 tries, including Sunday’s 131-108 win over the Bulls.

Since Feb. 1 they have the NBA’s most efficient offense, and their 117.6 rating is only going up after decimating the Bulls defense for 131 points on 54 percent shooting and 19 3-pointers. Blake Griffin is playing like a superstar and has created a near perfect chemistry with Andre Drummond, bucking the small-ball trend as the Pistons revolve around two bigs.

Then they’ve placed excellent 3-point shooters around them, as Reggie Jackson, Wayne Ellington, Langston Galloway and Luke Kennard are all providing shot making that allows Drummond and Griffin to work. The Pistons are going to be a tough out in the postseason.

Kris Dunn’s struggles continue

It’s bordering on broken record territory but Kris Dunn’s struggles are worth mentioning since Zach LaVine was out this afternoon. Dunn actually started the game well, knocking down a top-of-the-key 3-pointer and then stripping Blake Griffin and going coast-to-coast finishing with a dunk. He hit another shot in the first quarter, giving him seven points on 3 of 4 shooting.

He didn’t score the rest of the afternoon, however, and finished with 7 points, 4 assists and 2 steals in just 22 minutes. He also didn’t get to the free throw line, giving him now just nine free throw attempts in his last 14 games totaling 416 minutes. To his credit his 3-point numbers have improved, entering today shooting 7 of 17 over his last six games.

But with LaVine out of the lineup and Ryan Arcidiacono starting alongside him, Dunn had a chance to post a high-usage afternoon, work with Robin Lopez on some of those pick and rolls that have been so successful, and find Markkanen and Porter on drive-and-kicks. Instead it was another ugly performance, and his counterpart Reggie Jackson posted a monster 21-point, 6-assist line in just 25 minutes. The arrow continues to trend down on Dunn.

Wayne Selden breaks out of his slump

Granted, much of it came in garabge time but it was still nice to see Wayne Selden put together a nice shooting afternoon. He had been mired in a long slump, entering today’s game averaging 7.5 points on just 38 percent shooting since Feb. 1.

But against Detroit, Selden was aggressive getting to the basket, with 10 of his 14 attempts coming in the paint. Even better, he made all four of his jump shots which helped him to 18 points on 7 of 14 shooting and a pair of assists. The verdict’s still out on whether Selden can be a key contributor, but games like this show what he’s capable of doing off the bench.

Lauri’s 3-point shot looks better

For everything Lauri Markkanen has done well over the last six weeks, his 3-point shooting has been a bit of a struggle. Since Jan. 30 he’s made just 31.4 percent of his triples and in five March games had made just 29 percent (9 of 31).

While it didn’t do much to change the outcome of the game, it was nice to see Markkanen hit 3 of 7 triples. It was just the second time in eight games he’s been above 40 percent from deep, and before the game got out of hand he and Otto Porter – 17 points, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc – got plenty of shots up, accounting for 19 of the Bulls’ 46 shots in the first half.

It’s a little thing but an important one. As teams begin to defend Markkanen differently after his breakout February, shots will be tougher to come by. It was good to see him put together a nice shooting afternoon.

Bulls' Coby White has 7th best odds to win 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year

Bulls' Coby White has 7th best odds to win 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year

The 2019 NBA Draft has finally come and gone, and we now have a much better idea of how the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year race will pan out.

Of course, Zion Williamson has been the frontrunner to win ROY in most sports books before the draft even happens, and not much has changed since then at the top, with Williamson listed as a -450 favorite to win the award via Caesars. But when perusing through the rest of the top ROY odds, it is interesting where the split comes in terms of Caesar’s confidence in each first-year talent.

The top five in the odds were pretty much chalk, with the top five draft picks having the best odds in order, besides No. 5 overall pick Darius Garland finishing ahead of No. 4 overall pick De’Andre Hunter. Garland’s +1000 odds are likely the result of the general expectation that he and incumbent point guard Collin Sexton will be the driving forces of the Cavaliers’ offense.

Meanwhile, Hunter is sure to serve in more of a supporting role as a wing opposite Cam Reddish (+2500 odds) and 2018 NBA ROY runner up Trae Young, who possess much more in terms of ball handling and shot-creating ability. Speaking of ball handling and shot-creating ability, Bulls No. 7 overall pick Coby White comes in tied for 7th with +3000 odds to come away with the ROY award. 

White has the same odds as No. 8 pick Jaxson Hayes, and only slightly better odds than No. 9 pick Rui Hachimura and No. 15 pick Sekou Doumbouya. Historically, the ROY award goes to whichever first-year player has the most productive season in terms of raw numbers. White is expected to compete for the starting point guard job with Kris Dunn and whatever veterans the Bulls front office brings in.

While it is true that Coby White is not guaranteed a starring role in Chicago, the average-to-below-average guard play that the organization has received over the years would seem to indicate that the speedy first-year guard will be a fixture in the rotation all season long. 

When bettors first glance at White’s +3000 odds, they make look at it as a normal line and reasonably stay away from the longshot. But if you--like Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson--believe that White is an extremely coachable talent who will help get the entire Bulls team to commit to a more up-tempo style, then rolling with White’s odds in the ROY race is a no-brainer.

Waiting to see how free agency shakes out would be a prudent move on the part of bettors, but have confidence in White, who figures to be a crucial part of the rotation whether or not the Bulls go with a veteran starter or the incumbent, Kris Dunn, in the lead guard spot. 

Bulls Talk Podcast: Coby White and Daniel Gafford join Mark Schanowski


Bulls Talk Podcast: Coby White and Daniel Gafford join Mark Schanowski

Mark Schanowski is joined by Bulls top draft picks Coby White and Daniel Gafford after they were introduced to the media Monday at the Advocate Center.

0:50        White on how he thinks he can help the Bulls

1:25        White on his meeting with Jim Boylen

2:00        White on joining a very young roster

2:30        White on the influence of his father

3:33        White on the viral video of him reacting to Cam Johnson being drafted

4:50        White on his teammate first personality

5:38        White on looking forward to playing w Gafford

6:42        Gafford on his skill set

7:15        Gafford on watching the NBA when he can

7:40        Gafford on evolving big man role

8:47        Gafford on if he can do more offensively

9:20        Gafford on Bobby Portis, and some of their similarities

10:30     Gafford on some of his highlights from Arkansas

11:10     Gafford on Jim Boylen

11:30     Gafford on pick n roll game

12:00     Gafford on Coby White

12:40     Gafford on falling to the 2nd round, how getting drafted by the Bulls worked out

13:22     Gafford on throwing out 1st pitch at an upcoming Sox game

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast