Bulls

Someone dropped a WHOLE bunch of money on a Michael Jordan basketball card

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@chicagotribune

Someone dropped a WHOLE bunch of money on a Michael Jordan basketball card

Someone had some cash burning a hole in their pocket. 

On Thursday afternoon, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about how someone spent THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS on a Michael Jordan basketball card. The card is, according to the piece, one of only 10 ever made. Of those 10 cards, only 3 -- including this one -- have been graded by the Professional Sports Authenticator service.

The card is apparently the most expensive MJ card yet, and the third most-expensive basketball card ever. What's even funnier is that the card was about to sell for $100,000, but a bidding flurry in the auction's final couple minutes raised the price almost 200%. 

That is a staggering amount of money to spend on a laminated, wallet-sized picture of a basketball player, but if that's what you want to drop hundreds of thousands of your dollars on, far be it from me to say otherwise. 

Season in Review: Wayne Selden gives Bulls house money after Justin Holiday deal

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USA TODAY

Season in Review: Wayne Selden gives Bulls house money after Justin Holiday deal

Over the next month we'll be recapping each of the Bulls' individual 2018-19 regular seasons.

Previous reviews: Lauri Markkanen | Shaq Harrison | Ryan Arcidiacono | Otto Porter 

Midseason expectations: The Justin Holiday trade was far more about the second-round picks the Bulls acquired than the players. MarShon Brooks never even came to Chicago, and Wayne Selden was expected to get some run on the wing as an end-of-the-bench rotation player. His expectations shifted slightly when Chandler Hutchison suffered a broken toe and ultimately missed the remainder of the season. Selden was expected to log minutes, keep the ball moving and hit a few shots here and there. Again, whatever he provided was simply house money after acquiring a pair of second-round picks from Memphis.

What went right: Well, he was just about as subpar as Justin Holiday was? Seriously, the Bulls were buyers at the trade deadline and Selden was essentially a throw-in to match up salaries, and Selden’s 8.1 PER in Chicago was slightly worse than Holiday’s 8.8 in Memphis. Selden had a terrific January and with the Bulls prior to the All-Star break, he averaged 7.1 points on 44 percent shooting. Nothing to write home about, but solid (and hit 44 percent of his 3-pointers). Also, while Selden only averaged 1.7 assists he did a nice job on the second unit pushing pace by himself, driving and kicking and finding open shooters. He wasn’t necessarily a positive defensively but wasn’t poor on that end, either.

What went wrong: He showed very little consistency. As always, it was difficult for any of these young players to put together good stretches of play given the injuries and roster turnover, but Selden was up and down once the All-Star break rolled around. His shooting dipped down to 39 percent and he hit just 24 percent of his triples in his last 21 games. He popped up now and again with a 20-point outing or a double-double, but it was few and far between a simply average season.

The Stat: 20-8-4

Alright, so we cherry-picked it. But work with us. Selden had an outstanding night in the final game of January, scoring 20 points on 6 of 10 shooting along with four 3-pointers and eight assists. That statline of 20 points, 8 assists and 4 3-pointers was accomplished only one other time by a Bulls player in 2018-19, when Zach LaVine had 47 points, 9 assists and 6 3-pointers in the quadruple-overtime game. LaVine accomplished his feat in 56 minutes; Selden needed just 36.

2019-20 Expectations: Will he be back next season. He’d be a cheap option and the Bulls are going to have to fill out their roster. It might depend on what happens with Ryan Arcidiacono in restricted free agency and what the Bulls do in the draft. For the sake of this story we’ll assume he’s back on a small, one-year deal.

Selden’s goal will be consistency from beyond the arc and pushing in transition. The return of Denzel Valentine could give the Bulls two nice options on the wing behind Arcidiacono (or even Kris Dunn) to provide some offense. Even if Selden can work his way up from 31.6 percent to 34 or 35 percent it’ll make a world of difference for his NBA future. Past that, he’s simply going to be a practice body behind the Bulls’ starting wings and Hutchison.

NBA Draft: What the Bulls would get in R.J. Barrett

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft: What the Bulls would get in R.J. Barrett

R.J. Barrett is an enigma. There’s no question he’s talented. The No. 1 high school prospect in the country – yes, ahead of Zion Williamson – averaged an ACC-best 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 38 games. He was a first-team All-American for a 32-6 Duke team, has off-the-charts athleticism and length at the shooting guard position that has NBA scouts gushing.

But his freshman season with the Blue Devils still felt underwhelming. Beyond the raw numbers – helped in part because of the load he was asked to carry – was a ball-dominant, inefficient scorer who oftentimes struggled within the flow of a game and became too isolation-heavy. He struggled from beyond the arc, was turnover-prone (he had four or more turnovers in 17 games) and likely benefitted some from playing with the country’s best player. It’s what makes him such a mystery as he heads into the pre-draft process needing to answer serious questions about how his game will translate at the next level.

We’ll begin with the good. Barrett displayed a knack for attacking the basket with an excellent first step and a strong left-handed dribble. He took a whopping 173 non-transition shots at the rim, getting there either off a dribble drive or cut to the basket. Barrett has also shown an ability to read offenses and distribute, fitting passes in small windows that lead to dunks or kickouts for open 3-pointers. Keep this in mind later in the scouting report, but Barrett has excellent court vision when he’s not shot-happy.

Barrett’s frame will allow him to compete from Day 1. He’s a true 6-foot-7 and is already pretty filled out – he’s listed at 202 pounds – allowing him to battle inside and defend multiple positions. He’s always been a high-motor player and has potential on the defensive end of the floor. It’s a real positive to his game, though it went overlooked because of how much was asked of him as an offensive player/scorer in Durham. He’s also lightning-quick in transition, which should help him early in his NBA career. Because…

Goodness, Barrett was inefficient. Injuries to Tre Jones and Williamson put Barrett front and center for good portions of the season, but his numbers are ugly. Barrett shot just 45.4 percent from the field, made fewer than 31 percent of his 3-point attempts and was below 67 percent from the charity stripe on nearly 6 attempts per game. This came on 18.5 field goal attempts per game, and too often Barrett tried to take over instead of using the talent around him. It may have been amplified because one of those talents was Williamson, but Barrett’s mentality got him into trouble. He showed little improvement over the course of the season.

Because of this, there are real concerns about Barrett playing off the ball at the next level. Duke ran its offense through Williamson at times, and Jones improved at the point as the year went on, but Barrett was at his best with the ball in his hands. He’s an above-average cutter and showed some ability in pick-and-roll action from the wing, but his lack of a reliable outside jumper – he shot just 33.7 percent on all jump shots – limited him to simply overpowering defenders simply because he was more athletic. That won’t be the case at the next level. Barrett is at his best in a high-usage role, but in the NBA he simply isn’t efficient enough to play it. Something’s gotta give.

His game is tailored to being high-usage, but that’s a tough ask in the NBA. And it’s an incredibly tough ask for a Bulls team that already struggled a year ago to get Lauri Markkanen the touches he needed consistently. Of the projected top-5 picks, Barrett probably makes the least sense in terms of fit. Now, there’s still a very good argument to be made that Barrett is the second most talented basketball player in the class, and drafting best player available has never, ever been a bad idea. But they’ll need to rework Barrett’s game, or at least his mentality. At this point in Barrett’s career he wouldn’t be able to play many minutes alongside Zach LaVine, who’s proven to be effective with the ball in his hands.

The best-case scenario for taking Barrett would be re-working his game in a reserve role in each of the next two seasons. Improving his jump shot, his decision making and activity off the ball seems like a lot for a team that made a proactive deal at last year’s trade deadline. Plus, a second unit arguably needs to be more effective than the first unit because they have fewer isolation scorers. The ball needs to keep moving on a second unit that can't create for itself. That's not Barrett right now.

That’s not to say the Bulls need an immediate contributor or even a starter with their first round pick this June, but they need someone that fits. Fitting a round Barrett peg into a square Bulls hole doesn’t seem ideal.

Still, if the Bulls think his shortcomings are fixable – he’s 18 years old, lest we forget – then there’s little argument against taking him. He’s still a top-3 talent in the class and has potential despite a freshman season that had some hidden ugliness to it. But he's got a long way to go. We don't often think of players who put up huge numbers in college as projects, but it's what Barrett would be if he winds up in Chicago.