Ranking the top 5 NBA prospects

Ranking the top 5 NBA prospects

It's a bit depressing to already be looking forward to the draft before the calendar even turns, but welcome to the early stages of a rebuild. 

Given that the three-win Bulls will likely be racking up losses and ping-pong balls, Mark Schanowski ranked his top five NBA prospects to keep your eye on: 

1. Marvin Bagley III, Duke

Schanowski’s take: He’s a monster on the boards, and his shot will only improve. He’s also a better ball-handler and passer than expected.

2. DeAndre Ayton, Arizona

Schanowski’s take: Fits the new-school NBA with his ability to score, rebound and shoot the outside jumper.

3. Luka Doncic, Real Madrid

Schanowski’s take: Smooth guard with unlimited shooting range. Oh yeah, he’s only 18.

4. Colin Sexton, Alabama

Schanowski’s take: May not be a top-five pick, but Sexton can pour it in and should be the top poing guard selected. 

5. Trae Young, Oklahoma

Schanowski's take: He hasn't received the media attention quite yet, but he's been explosive in his freshman year. Sooner alumnus Stacey King approves. 

Watch the video above to see Schanowski's full analysis of his top five prospects. 

Denzel Valentine vows to work hard, remain team player as he waits for turn

Denzel Valentine vows to work hard, remain team player as he waits for turn

As Bulls practice wound down Monday at the Advocate Center, coach Jim Boylen pulled Denzel Valentine aside from group shooting drills and spoke to him at center court.

“It was just about him recognizing what I did in my G League performance,” Valentine said.

Valentine, who is playing through a sprained left pinky he suffered in that performance, scored 25 points on 10-for-19 shooting with 18 rebounds and eight assists in Windy City’s victory over the Wisconsin Herd last Friday. Given that Valentine has played just 5 minutes in one NBA game thus far this season, the G League game marked Valentine’s most significant action since undergoing reconstructive left ankle surgery that knocked him out all of last season.

Asked if the performance boosted his confidence or made not getting the chance to contribute at the NBA level more difficult, Valentine didn’t hesitate.

“I think a little bit of both. Like I told (Boylen), obviously I want to play. I’m a competitor. And I know I can play. I’m very confident in that,” Valentine said. “But that’s not in my control right now.  I’m just here to work hard and support the team in any way I can.”

Throughout much of the offseason, Valentine’s return from ankle surgery landed him in the same storylines as additions like Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young. Here was a player who averaged 10.2 points in 27.2 minutes while shooting 38.6 percent from 3-point range poised to fit right into the Bulls’ increased emphasis on taking 3-pointers.

Instead, as the Bulls sit at 25th with a 3-point percentage of 31.4, Valentine is out of the rotation. Chandler Hutchison, Ryan Arcidiacono and Shaq Harrison all have currently leapfrogged the former lottery pick.

“I’m a very confident player. I know what I can do. And 3-point shooting is definitely one of those things,” Valentine said. “I think I could add energy, leadership, ballhandling, the ability to guard multiple positions. I’m an experienced player. I think I can bring a lot to the floor. But I’m just focused on working hard. Whatever they want me to do, that’s what I’ll do.

“My role here for the Chicago Bulls is to work hard and support the team in any way I can. I’m just happy and blessed to be healthy, to be honest.”

Valentine said his surgically repaired ankle “feels great” and that his game shape while playing for the Windy City Bulls pleased him. Asked if he knows why he’s not playing, Valentine said: “I’m not too sure. You’d have to ask Coach.”

Here’s how that went.

Reporter: Why is (Valentine) out of the rotation?

Boylen: Because I said so.

Reporter: Is there something specific that he needs to improve?

Boylen: I think he needs some seasoning and he needs to play and he needs to grow.

Reporter: Grow in which areas?

Boylen: All areas.

Reporter: Why didn’t you play him at end of the (blowout) Rockets game?

Boylen: Because I didn’t want to.

In previous, more forthcoming interviews, Boylen has pointed to several players shooting below their career 3-point percentages. So it’s likely that theory offsets in Boylen’s mind his need to try minutes for Valentine, a career 37.4 percent 3-point shooter, to help the Bulls improve in that area.

Also, Boylen has consistently used a 10-man rotation. So it’s not like he’s not trying multiple players and multiple looks. Valentine just isn’t currently one of them.

“Stay ready,” Boylen said. “That’s what he needs to do.”

Valentine promised he would. 

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Otto Porter Jr. will miss 2nd straight game with sprained left foot

USA Today

Otto Porter Jr. will miss 2nd straight game with sprained left foot

If the Bulls gain revenge against the Knicks, it will be without Otto Porter Jr. The starting small forward didn't practice Monday and will miss his second straight game Tuesday with his sprained left foot.

The Bulls held Lauri Markkanen out of the contact portions of Monday's practice with a sore oblique muscle, but coach Jim Boylen said that Markkanen will play vs. the Knicks. For the second straight game, Chandler Hutchison will start for Porter.

"He’s got positional size. He loves to rebound," Boylen said of Hutchison. "In our system, if you rebound you can bring it. He had that one turnover when he rebounded and took two dribbles and tried to outlet it. That’s one I’d like to see him keep. Bring it up, make a decision and everyone run with him.

"He’s still working his way back. He missed a lot of games last year and he has missed games this year. I’m very happy with his effort and his energy. Athleticism and positional size are what we need and he brings those things."

The Bulls lost to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 28. After taking a 98-90 lead on a Markkanen 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 33 seconds to play, the Bulls didn't score again. The Knicks closed the game with a 15-0 run highlighted by two 3-pointers from Bobby Portis, who scored 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting and celebrated often against his former team.

"No words need to be said. We're not letting that happen," Wendell Carter Jr. said. "Bobby is going to want to put on a show. I'm not going to have it. I hope he's watching this. I ain't having it."

Carter then smiled and said he and Portis "are cool." But it's clear the loss still stings the Bulls, who are off to a disappointing 3-7 start.

Boylen continued to focus on the positives. The Bulls have blown three double-digit leads this season, including late leads, and struggled in the second halves of multiple games.

"Our defense is 15th in the league. We’re ninth in defense the last five games. Our shot profile is second in the league. We’re getting the shots we want. We’re No. 1 in the league at getting in the paint. I expect us to break through and shoot the ball better, finish better," Boylen said. "We have an improving basketball team. I have a belief in this group of guys. We’re going to keep working at what we do well. The things we need to clean up is our defensive rebounding, our corner contest and our execution in moments where we’re struggling to score. We can’t stop moving, can’t get stagnant."

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