Bulls

Opportunities arise in backcourt for injury-riddled Bulls

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USA TODAY

Opportunities arise in backcourt for injury-riddled Bulls

It’s that time of the year again for the Bulls. Though last season’s shutdowns were a thinly veiled attempt to increase their chances at a top-3 pick, this time around injuries to key players have the Bulls taking an overly cautious approach as their campaign winds down.

The Bulls, already without rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison for the rest of the season, will be without Otto Porter Jr. and Zach LaVine on Tuesday against the Raptors. Point guard Kris Dunn, dealing with back soreness, is listed as doubtful and is unlikely to play.

That’s three missing starters – four if you include Carter – against a 51-23 Raptors team. So while a loss is almost certainly on the docket that hardly means there’s nothing to be gained from these final eight games.

“Next man up is the focus,” Lauri Markkanen said Monday. “We’re trying to compete and win a couple games here down the stretch. It’s an opportunity for other guys who don’t get to play as much.”

There are a handful of Bulls reserves who will be fighting for a roster spot next season. If we’re to assume that the sure bets – pending any trades – of the Bulls roster will be LaVine, Markkanen, Carter, Porter, Dunn, Hutchison, Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio, plus the Bulls’ first and second round picks, that leaves just three or four openings if the Bulls don’t add anyone in free agency, which seems unlikely.

So with only a few roster spots available next season, and plenty of playing time available this season, the eight-game audition begins Tuesday in Toronto.

The two most important players of these evaluations will likely start in the backcourt. Shaq Harrison will continue to start on the wing while Ryan Arcidiacono will start if Dunn is unable to go. Jim Boylen said he’s undecided on who will start at small forward and likely match up with All-Star Kawhi Leonard, but one of Wayne Selden or Antonio Blakeney would get the call, with Harrison moving to Leonard if the latter started.

“With every injury, there’s an opportunity for someone to step into that role,” Boylen said. “We’ve had guys do that pretty well this year.”

Arcidiacono has been one of the most pleasant surprises this season. He had a serious lull in December and January but has rebounded nicely as the season nears an end, shooting 52 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc since the All-Star break.

Meanwhile Harrison has averaged a cool 10.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals in nearly 37 minutes over his last three games, all starts. He’s provided outstanding effort on the defensive end and has seen his offensive game improve; just how much that improvement can be sustained over a long stretch will determine his NBA future, but he should get that chance if one or both of LaVine and Porter are shut down.

While Blakeney’s contract is guaranteed for next season, he’s got work to do. He’s shooting just 42 percent from the field this season and is averaging just 0.6 assists per game. After a red-hot start from beyond the arc in October and November (44.8 percent on 2.6 attempts) he’s made just 36 percent since Christmas Day. But the opportunity is there for him to get extended run, as he’s averaged 22.5 minutes over his last three games, the last two of which were his first career starts.

While those players showcase their talents in the backcourt, the injuries could also allow Lauri Markkanen to take the reins and own the final two weeks. Though it's been a roller coaster of a season, the second year forward appears to be closing on a high note. He's averaging 18.9 points and 9.0 rebounds in 32.7 minutes and could see his numbers across the board improve as he takes on a high-usage role down the stretch with LaVine and Porter out.

"I’m doing the same things, trying to play the right way," Markkanen said. "I know there are guys who don’t normally start and I talked about it with Coach (Boylen) about making the right decision, maybe slow the pace down. At the same time, try to stay aggressive with guys being out."

'Rodman: For Better or Worse' 30 for 30 will debut on September 10

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

'Rodman: For Better or Worse' 30 for 30 will debut on September 10

On Friday ESPN revealed that the next film in their award-winning 30 for 30 series will focus on the life of former Bull and Hall of Fame forward Dennis Rodman. 

The film—which is titled "Rodman: For Better or Worse" will detail Rodman's journey to becoming a Hall of Famer and five-time NBA Champion. The documentary will detail Rodman's difficult upbringing in Dallas, his dominant run at Southeastern Oklahoma State and his development into one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history. 

While Rodman is no doubt one of the greatest talents in NBA history, he is just as famous for his intriguing and oftentimes shocking off the court exploits. Rodman: For Better or Worse will discuss Rodman diving into international diplomacy issues and all of the deeper reasons behind him becoming the interesting character that we know him as today. 

The documentary will feature interviews from former teammates and coaches of Rodman's, including Bill Laimbeer,  John Salley, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, and Phil Jackson. 

Rodman: For Better or Worse will be directed by Todd Kapostasy. 

Kapostasy is a seven-time Emmy Award winner. He wrote and directed 2016 documentary 'Confessions of a Cubs Fan: A Century of Waiting', which focused on the idea that winning isn't everything in sports amid the backdrop of the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series.

“Rodman: For Better or Worse” released on September 10, at 8 p.m. CT

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Coby White becomes first rookie in NBA history to understand his NBA2K rating

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NBA 2K20

Coby White becomes first rookie in NBA history to understand his NBA2K rating

It's that time of the year when every fan and player loses their mind over arbitray video game ratings that mean nothing.

That is, unless you're Coby White.

The rookie found out his rating for NBA 2K20 in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday and, much to the delight of this author, was pleased with his 76 rating.

"It's solid," White told Ronnie 2K. "Everybody be wanting their grade to be higher than what it is but I haven't played a game in the league yet so I understand why it's a 76. But I feel like after the season it'll be higher."

White said he hopes he can get his rating up to at least an 80 by the end of the season. Bulls fans would be pleased with that development, too.

White also said he was happy with his likeness in the game, which you can check out below.