Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against the Heat


Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against the Heat

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Bulls' Wednesday tilt against the Heat on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. The point guard carousel.

Jerian Grant will get the start for the Bulls, but the real story here is how Kris Dunn progresses. Back from his dislocated finger, Dunn needs to grab the starting reins sooner than later. As last season's No. 5 pick, he's integral to the future. The sooner he starts putting it all together for the Bulls, the sooner the rebuild gets moving. It's a point guard league, and the Bulls need to show they have one. Dunn looked solid in his season debut, and Grant is able to play off the ball; playing the two together with Justin Holiday on the other wing is arguably the Bulls' best backcourt. Keep an eye on this "competition" between Dunn and Grant.

2. Lauri gets a difficult task

Lauri Markkanen has proved to be a matchup nightmare two weeks into his NBA career. Through six games he's averaging 15.6 points and 9.6 rebounds in a whopping 32.3 minutes. He's got at least two 3-pointers and eight rebounds in every game, and the Bulls are 19 (NINETEEN!) points per 100 possession better offensively when he's on the floor. But he'll be tested against a super-athletic Heat frontcourt that includes James Johnson (yes, that James Johnson), Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Mickey. One could make the argument that this is the toughest defense Markkanen has faced to date. He's passed every test he's faced thus far.

3. Offense...may be difficult to come by

There's a chance Hassan Whiteside returns to the Heat lineup for the first time since Opening Night. That would make life a lot more difficult on a Bulls team that ranks dead last in the NBA in offensive efficiency by a considerable margin. In fact, the Bulls' 91.0 offensive rating would be the worst mark from any NBA team since 2008. They'll improve over the course of the year - Nikola Mirotic would help - but right now life is difficult on Fred Hoiberg's group. And against a Heat defense that has looked solid much of the year (aside from their ugly loss to the Timberwolves on Monday), expect a low-scoring affair at the United Center.

Report: Bulls sign former Arizona Wildcat Rawle Alkins to two-way contract


Report: Bulls sign former Arizona Wildcat Rawle Alkins to two-way contract

A report on Sunday from Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports indicated that the Bulls have agreed to a two-way contract with former Arizona Wildcat Rawle Alkins. 

The 6'5'' guard was a teammate of Lauri Markkanen on the 2017 Wildcats, and many expected him to be a potential lottery pick after showing off the all-around skill set that also made him the top player in the state of New York in high school.

After going undrafted, Alkins played for the Toronto Raptors Summer League team, where he put up 9 points, 4.67 rebounds and 2 assists per game. In the six Las Vegas Summer League games he played in, Alkins shot poor from the field (37 percent) and the free throw line (62.5 percent), but he knocked down his 3-pointers, shooting 43.9 percent on a healthy 3.5 attempts from deep per game. 

There is an obvious fit on the Bulls for a player like Alkins.

He was a career 36.5 percent 3-point shooter in his two college seasons, and has the physical profile of a great wing defender at the NBA-level. Alkins has a 6'9'' wingspan, and at a listed 220 lbs., it is easy to see him having the potential to guard four-to-five different positions on the floor. At this stage of the rebuild, the Bulls could really use as many of the coveted "3-and-D" wings as they can get. And there are some, like, The Ringer's Chris Vernon, who think that Alkins has the potential to become a glue guy.

Alkins will be a fan favorite wherever he plays. You want a Marcus Smart, Tony Allen, or P.J. Tucker–type player when you need a big play in a big game. I see that with Alkins.

-Chris Vernon 

The nature of the two-way contract means that Bulls fans will have to catch Windy City Bulls games to see Alkins in action. But much like Antonio Blakeney last season, we could see Alkins make an instant impact in the G League and get a call-up sooner than later, especially if the Bulls decide to move on from veteran Justin Holiday.

Either way, the pick up is a shrewd move by the Bulls front office. Alkins is a well-rounded, defense-first player who will be joining a young roster overstocked with scoring talent, but thin on defenders capable of guarding on the perimeter or executing a switching defense at a high level.

Jabari Parker and Tyler Ulis shine at open run in Chicago


Jabari Parker and Tyler Ulis shine at open run in Chicago

Jabari Parker is looking forward to what will surely be an intriguing season for he and the Chicago Bulls.

Parker signed a two-year, $40 million contract, that essentially acts as a tryout for the Bulls. The second year of the contract is a team option, meaning should things not go well, the organization can cut ties with him. But after 183 career games with the Bucks over four seasons, it was clear that Parker was in need of a fresh start. In Chicago, he will slide in as the day one starting small forward, and is already paid like a player who is definitely appreciated by his organization.

But with all of the off the court stuff taken care of for now, Parker's main focus is getting in to the best shape of his life, as he prepares for a full season as a wing player. 

Part of Parker's preparation was a great pickup game in downtown Chicago organized by the Chicago Basketball Club.

For Bulls fans itching to get a look at Parker on the court, the video shows off some flashy passing ability, impressive handles and a flurry of pull-up jumpers from the 23-year old forward. He also finishes well in transition in the video, though that is to be taken with a grain of salt as Parker was easily the biggest player on the court. 

Other players in the pickup game included former Simeon teammate of Parker's, Kendrick Nunn; and NBA free agent and former Marion Catholic star Tyler Ulis (a possible Bulls target?). If Parker looks as dynamic against NBA competition as he did in the pickup game below, the Bulls are going to have one of the more valuable contracts in the league in 2020, and would be likely to lock up Parker to a long-term deal.