Bulls

Odd men out?: Did the Bulls make the right decision in committing to Blakeney?

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USA TODAY

Odd men out?: Did the Bulls make the right decision in committing to Blakeney?

Just under a week ago, the Bulls waived Sean Kilpatrick after just nine games with the organization. Hours later on the same day, the team rescinded their qualifying offer to David Nwaba, a key piece to last season’s squad, making him an unrestricted free agent.

These moves begged one main question: what was the team going to do next?

The next step for the Bulls would come two days later when the team signed Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40 million deal with a team option in the second year of the deal.  

But how was Chicago going to fill the backup shooting guard void caused by Nwaba and Kilpatrick’s absence?

Today, the Bulls answered that question by signing Summer League star Antonio Blakeney, who spent most of his time in the G-League with the Windy City Bulls last season, to a two-year deal.

After the move, it’s easy to ponder another question: did the Bulls make the right decision by choosing Blakeney over Kilpatrick and Nwaba (if he does not re-sign)?

The team surely took Blakeney’s Summer League performance into account when deciding who to keep in Chicago. The 21-year-old guard was hot in Las Vegas this month, averaging 21 points, 2.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds in five July games.

Last season in the G-League, Blakeney was an All-Star and the Rookie of the Year after averaging 32 points (most in the league), 3.9 assists and 6.7 rebounds over 32 games. He did it all in 38.3 minutes per game.

Because he had a two-way contract with the Bulls last season, Blakeney also appeared in the NBA in 19 games, when he averaged 7.9 points, 1.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds. Nwaba averaged the same amount of points over 70 games with 1.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds, exactly three more boards per game than Blakeney.

But Nwaba averaged 23.5 minutes a game to Blakeney’s 16.5. At the same time, Nwaba’s field goal percentage (47.8 percent) last season was significantly higher than Blakeney’s (37.1 percent) in the NBA.  In defense of Blakeney’s poor shooting with the Bulls, his game is solely reliant on scoring compared to Nwaba’s defense-first mindset.

To paint a picture of just how different these two players are from each other, it is useful to look at their field goal attempts per 36 minutes. Nwaba’s FGA per 36 minutes was 9.3 last season, while Blakeney’s was a whopping 16.4. Their three-point field goal percentages are very different as well with Nwaba (34.6 percent) having the advantage compared to Blakeney (28.8 percent), who is certainly a streaky shooter.

Kilpatrick provided a smaller sample size with the Bulls, playing only nine games with Chicago after being signed in March.

The 28-year-old Kilpatrick averaged 15.4 points, 1.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds with the Bulls while averaging 23.8 minutes towards the final stretch of the season with the team. His play, combined with the organization hoping to strike gold with a high draft pick earned him the nickname "Sean Kildraftpick" from some Bulls fans.

He almost couldn’t miss during the months of March and April. During his time with the Bulls, he obtained a shooting percentage of 43.9 percent and shot 39.6 percent from beyond the three-point arc. His field goal attempts per 36 minutes amounted to 18.

Kilpatrick played with four total teams last season, and he’s only played in four NBA seasons. According to Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors, the Bulls paid the shooting guard $2.16 million for his short stint with the team. Nwaba was paid $1.3 million for the entire season. In other words, Kilpatrick wasn’t cheap.

So after comparing their statistics, who deserves to play with the Bulls?

All three players made solid contributions with the organization, and the team would be getting a solid role player with any of these guards.

It depends on what type of style the Bulls are looking for, and in this case, it looks like the team is impressed with Blakeney’s scoring abilities, adding to an already offensive-oriented group.

Jim Boylen on Tomas Satoransky: "He needs to be a little more thirsty"

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USA Today

Jim Boylen on Tomas Satoransky: "He needs to be a little more thirsty"

Tomas Satoransky is shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range. That's the good news. The bad news is he may not be taking enough shots.

Acquired in a sign-and-trade transaction with the Wizards, Satoransky is walking a fine line in his first season with the Bulls. He was brought in to be a low-usage distributor who could provide the proper passing and spacing to help Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen take off this season. But he also possesses the shooting ability to keep defenses honest.

Following Monday's morning shootaround, both Satoransky and coach Jim Boylen acknowledged the need for more from the starting point guard.

"I’d like him to be a little more thirsty," Boylen said. "That being said, I think we have done a poor job of finding him. He’s open in the high quad. He’s open in corners. There have been occasions where we have found him and he has been reluctant because he’s kind of got that giving and sharing mentality. But he’s shooting 46 percent from the 3. He needs to get them up.

"He’s trying to figure it out. We’ll all trying to figure out playing together. What I’ve challenged the first group is is to move the ball like the second group has. Just trust it and move it. At times they do and at times we could do better. But Tomas is a heckuva shooter. He needs to be a little more thirsty. He’s such a good kid. He’s a team-first guy. That’s great. We love that. But sometimes you have to get them up."

Satoransky actually is attempting career-highs in both shots at 6.8 per game and 3-pointers in 2.5 per game. But this is his first season as a full-time starter. And with the Bulls struggling from 3-point range overall at just 32.5 percent, Satoransky may need to shoot more.

"I think I have to," Satoransky said. "I've been trying to a little more lately. This was my thing in the NBA that I have to be sometimes more aggressive for myself. Sometimes I'm between the balance of honoring the offense and looking for my chances to attack. Obviously, sometimes there are transition (chances) where I think I have to be a little more aggressive and keep the defense honest. From there, I'll have more opportunities."

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Luke Kornet undergoes sinus obstruction surgery after breaking his nose in 2018

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USA Today

Luke Kornet undergoes sinus obstruction surgery after breaking his nose in 2018

Bulls forward Luke Kornet underwent nose surgery today due a sinus obstruction. The obstruction is the result of a broken nose he suffered while playing with the New York Knicks in December 2018.

Leading up to the Bulls game tonight at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, Boylen expanded upon the Bulls official announcement.

“Kornet had sinus surgery this morning. He had blockage and some issues from a previous fracture from when he was in New York. We just felt it was time to go in there and clean that thing out. That happened this morning at 6 AM. He’s out. Surgery went well. We’ll have more to report as we go. Originally, it was a seven-ten-day thing where he’d be back. I think it’s one of those things they don’t know until they get in there how extreme it is. But he had blockage and it needed to be done.”

Kornet was drafted by the Knicks in 2017 and this is his first season with the Bulls. We will update this story when more information is released. 

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