Bulls

Will anyone on the current Bulls roster make the 2020 All-Star team?

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USA TODAY

Will anyone on the current Bulls roster make the 2020 All-Star team?

For the first time since 1988, Chicago is set to host an NBA All-Star Game

In 2020, basketball fans from around the globe will descend on the United Center to catch a glimpse at the very best the Association has to offer. Whether any Bulls player fits that criteria remains to be seen. 

At the beginning of what is likely a long rebuild, the Bulls roster isn't filled with obvious future All-Stars. And unlike in 1988 at Chicago Stadium -- when Michael Jordan started and dropped 40 -- getting a player in the game is questionable. Here's a breakdown of each current player's chances: 

Nahhhh.  

Cameron Payne: In a league loaded with point guards, Payne doesn't rank anywhere near the top. Pitched as the possible point guard of the future in last year's deal that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to Oklahoma City, Payne has played in just 11 games with the Bulls. Barring some miraculous development, he won't be reppin' Chicago at ASG Weekend. 

Kay Felder: He may turn into a heat-check guy, but he's no Isaiah Thomas. 

Quincy Pondexter: He beat the odds when he returned to an NBA floor after a myriad of serious knee injuries. The odds of an All-Star appearance are much greater, though. 

Jerian Grant: The 25-year-old point guard out of Notre Dame is getting his chance to run the show... he's shooting just over 30 percent. 

Cristiano Felicio: Big Cris has made huge strides in his short time in the NBA. Becoming one of the best big men in the East, though, seems a tad unrealistic. 

Paul Zipser: Until he improves his 3-point shot (32 percent in his career), he's not a candidate. 

Anything is possible... but probably not 

David Nwaba: The guard has an incredibly high motor, but it's not often that a strong, energetic defender with clear offensive limitations gets an invite. 

Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic: Given the sour relationship between these two, it's probably one or the other. Portis would have to consistently hit his outside shot along with rebounding like a menace. Since Mirotic is a below average defender, he'd have to have an incredible offensive first half to earn a spot. 

Denzel Valentine: It's fairly obvious that the Bulls did not get the 2016 version of Draymond Green. Could be a solid role player still.   

Justin Holiday: On pace to have a forgettable offensive season, Holiday's a terrific perimiter defender who can get hot for one half of a season. Right? 

Robin Lopez: The trusted veteran in the Bulls locker room would be 31 come the 2020 Game. He's yet to make an All-Star roster in his career, so this "it's possible" nod is just out of respect for RoLo continuing to be a positive influence on this version of the Baby Bulls. 

Kris Dunn: Where there's hype, there's not always All-Star appearances. Dunn has looked better of late with the Bulls, but he still struggles to shoot, a pretty important factor in determining ASG worthiness. 

Legit shot

Zach LaVine: This may be a bit overzealous considering LaVine hasn't even played a game with the Bulls yet. The 22-year-old has already left several marks on previous All-Star Weekends though, winning the Slam Dunk Contest twice. If he fully recovers from his torn ACL, his scoring and playmaking could land him a spot. If not, he could make an appearance in the Slam Dunk Contest or 3-point contest (38 percent for his career). 

Lauri Markkanen: He's turned heads in his rookie campaign, being lazily compared to Kristaps Porzingis. Assuming he'll continue to get more touches and flourish offensively, it's not a stretch that he'll be a 22-year-old All-Star. 

Steve Kerr stays positive, keeps perspective with new Warriors' challenge

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USA TODAY

Steve Kerr stays positive, keeps perspective with new Warriors' challenge

Kevin Durant chose to leave for the Nets in free agency. Klay Thompson faced rehabilitation after tearing his left ACL during Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Yes, Steve Kerr knew this Warriors season would be different.

But nobody knew that Steph Curry would break his left hand and be sidelined until likely after the All-Star break at the earliest. Nobody knew D’Angelo Russell, the Warriors’ prized offseason acquisition, would miss nine games with a sprained right thumb.

But just as he kept perspective and an even keel throughout the Warriors’ dynasty, which produced three championships and five straight trips to the NBA Finals, the ever-grounded Kerr is doing the same with a team that lugs a league-worst 4-19 mark into Friday’s meeting with the Bulls.

“I’m enjoying coaching the young guys and going through the details of what they need to learn and helping them develop,” Kerr said in an interview following Thursday’s practice at University of Illinois Chicago. “I basically survived my whole career. I was never really in a position where I felt like, ‘OK, I’ve made it.’ From year to year, it was just survival. So I can relate to a lot of these young guys and I can relate a lot of experiences to them. That’s a satisfying process when you see them do well.”

That said, Kerr is a competitor. There’s a broken clipboard and some bloody towels from last Wednesday’s home victory over the Bulls to prove it.

So the teaching element may be rewarding. The losing?

“It sucks. It sucks,” Kerr said, repeating himself for emphasis. “We’re 1-8 in close games. That’s part of having a young team, learning how to close games. That part of it is a struggle.

“You want your players to feel rewarded when they play well. We had a stretch of two weeks where we played well every night and we had one win to show for it. And that was Chicago. It’s frustrating to walk in the locker room and see guys with their heads down because you know how hard they’re working and how much they want it.”

Kerr experienced a dynasty as a player with the Bulls and as a coach with the Warriors. Invariably throughout last season, he’d remind anyone willing to listen to savor how special those times are.

Does he think people listened?

“No,” he said, laughing. “It’s human nature to think we’re going to win it again and we’re going to keep going forever. Life changes quickly.

“I talked not only to the media and our fans but to our team. Last year there were several times when I said, ‘This is going to be our best chance to win a championship.’ We’ve got an incredible opportunity that may never come up again. That’s something that’s important for everybody to realize---fans, management, players. It is lightning in a bottle. You can do everything perfectly and you still may not get to where you think you might be.”

The Warriors’ dynasty may be over. But with Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green still under contract, an attractive young piece in Russell and a huge trade exception from the Andre Iguodala deal, the Warriors are solidly positioned for the future.

And if this season produces a lottery pick, well, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Until then, Kerr keeps coaching and teaching. Thursday’s film session and practice stretched to the 2 1/2-hour mark.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys. Draymond has been fantastic, basically helping coach the team and talking guys through different situations. They’ve been thrown in the fire every day. It’s not easy. But they’re doing a good job,” Kerr said. “We have to figure it out as a staff: How much do you throw at them? Too much information sometimes can be a bad thing. And so we have to find the balance. We also can’t not give them the information that they need. It’s just maybe doing it sequentially and maybe finding the right order and plugging holes as you go.

“The NBA game is so different. These days, players come in at such a young age. There’s just an awful lot of fundamental stuff you have to break down on a daily basis as a young team. That’s the biggest difference for us as a staff between having a young team and having vets. It’s a different daily routine for sure.”

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With attendance waning, Bulls focused on 'making their own energy'

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With attendance waning, Bulls focused on 'making their own energy'

Last night, the Bulls announced 15,017 fans in attendance for the team's 106-99 victory over the Grizzlies. That figure is more than 4,000 people below their season-average of — after last night — 19,099 fans per contest.

That scarcity was eminent and didn't go unnoticed, especially by players on the court.

"I was telling us in pregame, we're gonna have to bring our own energy today," Zach LaVine said after Thursday afternoon practice. "We got out on that 10-0 run, I was really excited about that, but it was uh, it was a scarce crowd, it was a little quiet in there. But we made our own energy but sometimes that's just what you have to do."

After 11 home games, the Bulls are fourth in the NBA in total attendance (210,090) and sixth in average attendance — both fine marks by the standards of most, but underwhelming for a major-market franchise with their illustrious history. The real kicker: The team is tied for 22nd in the league in percent capacity (91.3) with the Indiana Pacers. Just ahead of that No. 22 slot are the 5-17 Atlanta Hawks, just behind the Phoenix Suns.

Per ESPN's NBA Attendance Report, the Bulls have not finished a regular season outside the top three in total attendance or average attendance since the 2002-03 season. Before last year, they ranked first in both nine seasons in a row. They were also top two in percent capacity for eight straight years before finishing 17th last season. As mentioned, their ranking in that category has dipped even further this year. 

The 2019-20 Bulls currently own a 4-7 home record. Last night was only the Bulls' tenth home victory of the Jim Boylen era, which spans back to Dec. 3, 2018. No one is naiive to the impact those types of results can have. 

"We haven't been a winning basketball team the last couple years, so you know, it makes sense," LaVine said. "Once you start winning that the crowd gets back into it and gets more lively. I understand that, I understand professional sports. So we don't take it personally."

From shootaround to gametime in advance of the Grizzlies game, Boylen stressed the importance of the Bulls getting on a roll on their home floor. According to Boylen, momentum in that respect has to come by way of fast starts, and that came to fruition last night. The Bulls jumped out to a 13-2 lead early in the game and led by as many as 22 in the first half, holding the Grizzlies to 0-for-15 3-point shooting while hitting 8-for-18, themselves. Those numbers stabilizied as the game wore on, but in the locker room afterwards, LaVine was adamant that the team's energy wasn't the issue.

In fact, Boylen and his players seem to have taken ownership of sparking themselves. 

"I want our guys to play hard and compete, and we have to bring our own energy, and we have to play with physicality and effort and all those types of things," Boylen said. He added: "We have the best fans in the league."

They'll have another chance to begin re-establishing a homecourt advantage Friday night agaisnt the lowly Warriors. For the time being, the team's focus is on controlling the things they can control: Results. The rest will come later.

"Obviously you wanna win. We're not going out there to win for, you know, to get more attention, we're going out to win to try to make the playoffs," LaVine said. "So, you know, I think the crowd will come, and they'll get behind you."

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.