Bulls

Three takeaways: Wayne Selden carries the offense as Bulls fall in Toronto

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USA TODAY

Three takeaways: Wayne Selden carries the offense as Bulls fall in Toronto

Wayne Selden continues to make a case to be a Bull in 2020

Selden was a part of the the trade that sent Justin Holiday to the Memphis Grizzlies, and while the trade was certainly made to get some draft capital, the front office has to be pleased with Selden’s play down the stretch. Overall he has done enough to be a part of the Bulls supporting cast in the 2019-20 season.

On Tuesday night against the Raptors, Selden scored 13 PTS in the first half on 5/10 shooting and was the driving force behind the Bulls offense as Lauri Markkanen struggled mightily.

He finished the game with agame-high 20 PTS ob 8/15 shooting from the field. Selden has been an awesome scorer from midrange this season and is taking that shot more than any point in his career. Per Cleaning the Glass, he is in the 84th percentile among all NBA forwards as a midrange shooter (46 percent).

Selden has shot a hair under 34 percent as a Bulls, and the shooting should be expected to see an uptick should he return to Chicago, as he is a career 35 percent 3PT shooter. Selden does not get to the free throw line much, but his scoring ability in the midrange makes him a legit pick-and-roll ball handler for Jim Boylen.

For the Bulls to take a step forward next season, they need to surround Markkanen and LaVine with players who can make the 3PT shot at a respectable rate, run the pick-and-roll and defend NBA wings. Selden checks off all three boxes and is unlikely to command a crazy amount on the open market, making him a solid candidate to return.

“Arc” Madness

Ryan Arcidiacono pulled out a solid performance on his birthday. Arcidiacono turned 26 years old on Tuesday night and racked up 13 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST and 2 STLS while starting for the injured Kris Dunn.

Arcidiacono has been great in the pick-and-roll all season, a testament to his high basketball IQ and shooting ability. He is shooting around 37 percent from the 3PT line on the year and the Bulls offense has looked similar if not better when “Arc” is running the show.

He understands not picking up your dribble to early in order to create better passing angles for the roll man in pick-and-roll situations. Arcidiacono’s carefulness with the ball--elite 4.21 assist-to-turnover ratio--has resulted in some nice finishes for little used players like Cristiano Felicio.

Boylen loves Arcidiacono’s game because of his grit and tenacity, and that shines through in moments like Tuesday night when he was the third-leading rebounder (6 REB) for the short-handed Bulls.

He only finished with two assists in about 30 minutes of action but played more off-ball while Shaq Harrison handled a lot of the ball handling duties. And that versaitility is yet another thing that Arcidiacono has used this season to prove that he is a legitimate NBA guard.

His creativeness as a passer, shooting and overall effort level make him a fan favorite and depending on what the Bulls do over the offseason, he could be a bigger part of next year’s team.

Lauri Markkanen struggles continue

Lauri Markkanen had yet another clunker of a game, shooting 2/10 from the field in just over 16 minutes of playing time. Markkanen is shooting 40 percent from the field in March, his worst overall shooting month so far this season.

Whether or not it is general fatigue or old injury woes flaring up, something doesn’t seem quite right with Markkanen. It will be interesting to see if the Bulls shut him down with only seven games remaining in the season. He has does not have a ton left to prove this year, as he has clearly improved from his rookie season, especially when it comes to crashing the glass consistently (9.0 RPG in ‘18-’19).

Through 52 games Markkanen averaged 18.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 APG and shot 36.1 percent from the 3PT line. He showed tremendous strides as a ball handler and passer even if the numbers don’t exactly reflect it. Tuesday night was a disappointing one for “The Finnisher”, but if it does end up being the last game of the season for him, it doesn’t take away from what was a great sophomore season from the 21-year old Markkanen.

Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?

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USA TODAY

Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?

According to a story by Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney, the Bulls may be looking for help in the form of one of the NBA’s better two-way players.

In the post, Deveney goes over the most salient points made by brand new New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin. This included the fact that Griffin stated that Pels head coach Alvin Gentry will be back and that Jrue Holiday is considered “a franchise building block”.

This could be a bit of gamesmanship from Griffin, hoping to drive up the asking price for an All-Star caliber player such as Holiday.

But Deveney suggests that New Orleans may indeed be serious about their efforts to keep building with Holiday on the roster. Deveney stated, “if the Pelicans don't trade Holiday, it will set up the team for an attempt at a fast turnaround rather than a long, slogging rebuild......It will also frustrate teams looking for a versatile point guard in his prime, hoping that Holiday would be on the block.”

Phoenix was mentioned as the “top contender” for Holiday’s services should he be made available, as the Suns are one of the few teams with an obvious hole at PG. Along with the Suns, Chicago and Orlando were the other teams listed as having interest in Holiday. The Magic completed a low-risk trade during the 2018-19 season that landed them 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, so they may not be inclined to give up solid assets in a deal.

As far as the Bulls are concerned, any serious inquires on Holiday are likely to come after the May 14 NBA Draft lottery.

Depending on where the Bulls lottery pick ends up, the Pelicans could be much more inclined to make a deal with the Chicago front office. The Pelicans ended the season tied with Memphis and Dallas for the 7th spot in the draft lottery odds, and their specific organizational goals could make moving up in the draft order worth losing a valuable player like Jrue Holiday. And for the Bulls, nabbing a player like Holiday helps build onto the positive team culture that Jim Boylen wants to establish and gives the Bulls a perfect guard to pair in the backcourt with Zach LaVine.

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

This is the first entry in our "8 for 38" series, where will be looking at eight different under-the-radar NBA prospects that the Bulls could snag with their No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Charles Bassey/ 6’11’’/ 275 lbs./ Freshman/ Western Kentucky  

Bassey is a a well-regarded five-star recruit from Nigeria, who played his college ball at Western Kentucky University. He is a physical force on the court but definitely is a raw prospect at this stage of his development.

Bassey came into the season as an assumed first round talent, however, his stock has dropped after his impressive freshman season still revealed holes in his game that will definitely be exploited at the NBA level. All that being said, he was quite the prospect at WKU.

Strengths:

In his lone season at WKU, Bassey averaged 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game on 62.7 percent shooting from the field. His impressive double double average was built on his insane dominance inside the paint.

He shot an astounding 77.4 percent on shots at the rim and that number is even higher on non-post up shots around the basket. Bassey has a rudimentary hook shot that he can hit over his left shoulder but his postgame isn’t the hub of his offense. He generates most of his points by finishing on pick-and-rolls and using his faceup game.

Bassey’s physicality leads to him setting hard screens, and when he doesn’t set a hard screen, he slips to the basket quickly where he takes advantage with his soft touch when looking to score. It is tough for help defenders to knock Bassey off his path when he is rolling to the rim, as his immense lower body strength allows him to displace smaller players.

When Bassey faces up from 15-feet and in, he uses the aforementioned soft touch to convert on 40.8 percent of his 2-PT jump shots per Hoop-Math.com. On top of that, he generally has the speed to blow by most big men.

Bassey’s biggest strength from day one in the NBA will be his motor. He clearly gets fired up for big matchups, as he showcased when he dominated Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, who ended up winning the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given by the Basketball Hall of Fame to the country’s best center. In their late December matchup, Bassey helped hold Happ to a very inefficient 20 points on 23 shots.

In that same game Bassey finished with 19 points (7/8 FG, 5/5 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. He has arguably had better games, but the all-around versatility showcased in the stat line above is outstanding.

Bassey has flashed the ability to make nice passes before:

Since Bassey’s NBA offense will be centered around pick-and-roll plays, further developing his decision making on the short-roll will be a boon to whatever team drafts him.

On defense, Bassey already shows the ability to be an asset in the right system. When he is allowed to play in a traditional defensive system that has the center dropping back in pick-and-roll coverage, he swallows up shots with his 7-foot-3 wingspan.

Weaknesses:

The gigantic weakness Bassey showcased this season was an inability to function as a switch defender. He was great when it comes to protecting the rim--he averaged 2.4 blocks per game-- but he was consistently beat off the dribble by guards.

Of course it is rare to find any center--let alone a young one--that has the legitimate ability to function at a high-level when it comes to switching on to smaller, faster players. But that is precisely what makes Bassey the exact type of center you can find easily.

This is why a player of his talent level can slip into the second round.

Another big issue for Bassey is hands, or more specifically, the inability to hold on to passes when diving to the rim. As mentioned above, pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop basketball is how Bassey will carve out a niche in the league. But he occasionally struggled to hold on to the ball on throws that many would not even consider to be “tough passes”.

In the above strengths section it is mentioned how Bassey has some untapped potential as a passer, but he will never cash in on that potential if simply possessing the ball is a difficulty for him. He isn’t as explosive as usual if there are multiple defenders crowding him and raking at the ball, which happens often.

Over 1,067 minutes Basey amassed 24 assists as compared to a whopping 97 turnovers.

Long term outlook:

I believe Bassey will have a long NBA career due to his finishing in the paint and ability to block shots.

Bassey ran roughshod over his mostly Conference USA opposition on the season.

His 62.7 percent shooting from the field and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes were a few of the many things that showed that Bassey is at least ready for the physicality of the NBA.

But to become much more than a solid journeyman center, Bassey will have to hone his perimeter jump shot to the point that he can become a solid 3-point threat. He shot 45 percent on a very limited 20 attempts from 3-point range and converted on 76.9 percent of his free throws, an enticing set of numbers that show the type of player he could be in the future.

Whether or not Robin Lopez stays, the Bulls will be short on center depth next season.  After Wendell Carter Jr. went down for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, we saw the Bulls play ultra-small lineups that got beat up on the glass often as Jim Boylen was still reluctant to play Felicio more than 15 minutes per game.

Adding a high-upside prospect like Bassey helps Boylen and co. avoid over-using lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center, which helps keep Markkanen fresh and theoretically improves the overall team defense.