Bulls

A perfect night for the rebuild: Lauri's shot returns, Kris Dunn stays aggressive, Bulls lose

krisdunn.png
USA TODAY

A perfect night for the rebuild: Lauri's shot returns, Kris Dunn stays aggressive, Bulls lose

Aggressive Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn was aggressive from the jump, which wasn't all that surprising considering Zach LaVine was on the bench. Dunn finished with 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting, and his four assists were more a product of teammates missing shots than him not distributing. He was an efficient 4 of 6 on midrange shots (and made his only 3-pointer), but it was his eight attempts in the paint that made the biggest mark.

Dunn's aggressiveness isn't something new, and it'll be interesting to see how much of that carries over when LaVine is back in the lineup Tuesday. Dunn's two steals and two blocks were an added bonus, though Nets point guards had their way most of the night. It wasn't a highlight night for any Bulls defender.

Lauri's shot returns...kind of

The box score shows Markkanen shooting 8-for-18 and scoring 19 points, solid numbers considering the recent funk he was in. He went 1-for-3 from beyond the arc, but most of his damage was done inside. That's a fine recipe for a rookie who had gone 3-for-28 from deep in February, but also probably not fair to say his shooting struggles this month are vanished. He again looked comfortable with Bobby Portis when the two were paired together, and any night where Markkanen leads the team in field goal attempts is a good night.

Cam Payne and Cristiano Felicio still look lost

It's unfair to continue harping on Payne, who is clearly shaking off some rust playing in his first real action since April. But he needed a jumper in the final minute to break an 0-for-8 shooting night, and he finished 1-for-10 with two assists in 18 minutes. He was decent against the Timberwolves and had seven assists against the Sixers, but on nights where he's off...boy, is it evident.

As for Felicio, this experiment already looks to be failing. He's played 61 minutes the last two games and has a grand total of six rebounds. To put that in perspective, Cameron Payne had five rebounds in 18 minutes tonight. Noah Vonleh had seven boards in 15 minutes. Felicio also went 2-for-3 from the field, finishing with four points, three rebounds, three fouls and a game-worst -28 rating. He's going to continue getting 30+ minutes a night, and you'll see a direct result of that when the Bulls make a very early selection on draft night in June.

Good for the tank

Yes, Monday's loss was a big one as far as the ping-pong balls in May are concerned. The Bulls are now tied with the Nets in the win column, and they stay 2.5 games back of the Suns and Hawks, both of whom also lost Monday night.

The good news is the Bulls still have two games left against the Nets, a bottom feeder team but one that doesn't own its first-round pick in June so doesn't have much need to tank.

In other draft pick news, the Pelicans won their sixth straight game (beating the aforementioned Suns), so for now it looks like the Bulls won't have a second Lottery pick. Still, that pick shouldn't get much higher than, at worst, 20 or 21. The Bulls will have options wherever New Orleans winds up.

And if you're keeping tabs on Anthony Davis perhaps coming back to Chicago in free agency in a few years, the cost keeps getting higher (duh, he's worth every penny). On Monday, The Brow went for 53 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks. He's been the MVP of the league since DeMarcus Cousins went down with his Achilles injury, and he's the reason the Pelicans could get as high as No. 3 (!!) in the West.

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

zipser618.jpg
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.