Chicago Bulls

Why the Bulls should take Ty Jerome with the No. 38 pick

Why the Bulls should take Ty Jerome with the No. 38 pick

Even if the Bulls are able to add one of the their preferred PG prospects with the No. 7 overall pick, they will still be looking at Kris Dunn or Ryan Arcidiacono as their backup point until they are able to acquire someone else in free agency. With that in mind, bringing in a quality, high-IQ, experienced PG prospect with the No. 38 overall pick would be a wise decision for the Bulls. This brings us to clever Virginia guard Ty Jerome.

Strengths:

On Wednesday’s Bulls Talk Podcast, John Paxson said “our young bigs need to get some easy baskets.....where they can just roll to the rim and have a point guard who can get the ball to them lob it up there and they get a couple dunks a game, things like that.” Jerome happens to excel when it comes to executing that exact type of pass and is an impressive playmaker overall.

Jerome lead the ACC in assists and helped run a methodical Virginia offense that ranked second in the nation in offensive efficiency per Ken Pom. He can find find big men cutting toward the basket in pick-and-rolls. The reason Jerome is so skilled with his pick-and-roll passing is the timing, he is willing to wait a few seconds longer than most when moving side-to-side to create a longer window of opportunity for the pass.

His height helps him tremendously as a playmaker, as he is able to put nice touch on post entry passes, and usually has no issue seeing over the defense. But an even bigger strength than his size is his decision-making, as you rarely see Jerome even attempt a pass that doesn’t have a high success rate.

That doesn’t mean the New York-native won’t occasionally unleash some flashy assists, just that his game is so successful because it is rooted in the fundamentals.

Jerome is also an unbelievable shooter, and that oh-so-enticing package of passing and shooting prowess is part of the reason he has a wide range of outcomes for draft night.

Jerome shot 65 percent at the rim, 45.7 percent on short midrange shots and 40.5 percent on NBA range 3-point shots, per data available at The Stepien. These figures are great and help further explain how he posted a top-10 offensive rating (120.4) in the ACC.

The success Jerome had in the short midrange area is the most encouraging thing to me when forecasting his NBA future. NBA defenses will play his jumper aggressively and force him into the paint where there is more confined space. Jerome has the craft and guile to get too his floater and should be able to punish bigs in space with decent success.
 

Weaknesses:

Notice that above I said Jerome would be able to attack bigs (primarily on switches but primary matchups against some personnel) decent success, not great success. This gets into Jerome’s biggest weakness, which is his athleticism and wingspan.

He doesn’t have a ton of burst or explosiveness, and can really struggle moving laterally. Jerome greatly benefitted from playing in a pack-line defense that allowed him to sell out on stopping drives. From his three years at Virginia, he is naturally wired to force the outside shot, but trying to hard to deny the drive at the NBA level will have him in trouble often.

Jerome actually has a minus wingspan, measured in 2015 at 6-foot-2.5 despite him being 6-foot-5. This opens up a bevy of issues, including a variety of bench scorers being able to shoot over closeouts by Jerome with ease.

While Ty is a physical enough defender that I expect him to succeed, it doesn’t bode well for his NBA future that RJ Barrett was able to blow by him on drives many times in the 2018-19 season. Barrett is not an elite athlete-- as  our Kendall Gill likes to remind us--does not have great left-right burst and is a rather rigid athlete.

Translation: If Jerome gets destroyed off the dribble by the RJ Barrett’s of the world, what happens when he is trying to stay in front of guards like Malik Monk or Ish Smith?

Long term outlook:

Jerome has a wide range of outcomes on draft night because despite his obvious flaws, his strengths and overall profile suggest a player who will last in the NBA. He was a three-year player at Virginia under Tony Bennett. He was the starter on the Cavaliers 2018-19 National Championship team and his all-around game was a huge part of their run.

He may not have the athletic tools to make him a can’t-miss prospect, but you can’t teach feel for the game and Jerome has one of the highest basketball-IQs in this draft class. The fact that he will likely be able to pick up defensive schemes quickly--but will default to denying penetration--would immediately endear him to Jim Boylen. Kris Dunn-Jerome bench units would play solid perimeter defense and provide much offensive firepower than Dunn-Shaq Harrison units. If Boylen decided to play Jerome and LaVine together, Zach would have more space to attack the basket with Jerome’s NBA 3-point range keeping defenses honest.

Some analysts think Jerome is a late first round pick, others think he is an early second rounder and even fewer think he might not stick in the NBA. One thing we all can agree on, is that Jerome would be more than worth a flier for the Bulls should he be on the board at pick No. 38.

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NBA Buzz: All options on the table for the Bulls after lottery fall

NBA Buzz: All options on the table for the Bulls after lottery fall

Looks like Adam Silver’s lottery reform plan accomplished exactly what the commissioner had hoped for. Three of the four teams with the worst regular season records missed out on a chance for a top 4 pick, while teams slotted at 7, 8 and 11 before the lottery jumped into the top 4. Of course, one could argue the whole idea of the draft is to help weaker teams close the gap on the playoff teams, so maybe the new lottery system isn’t the best thing for competitive balance. But Silver desperately wants to take away the incentive for teams to “tank” late in the season for a better chance at a high draft pick, and his message came through loud and clear Tuesday night.

So, where does that leave the Bulls after falling from No. 4 to No. 7 thanks to the new lottery odds? Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson will consider all options, including trading up, trading down or possibly simply trading the No. 7 overall pick for a veteran player who can help the team right away. Here’s a look at how the lottery selections could go on June 20th with the understanding players will rise or fall on team’s draft boards depending on how they do at the combine and in private team workouts and interviews.

  1. PELICANS- Zion Williamson, F, Duke.  It might not be an exaggeration to say the Pelicans cashing in a 6 percent chance for the No. 1 pick may have saved NBA basketball in New Orleans. With star player Anthony Davis demanding a trade, and attendance dwindling at Smoothie King Center, the Pelicans were at the top of the list of teams potentially relocating in the foreseeable future. Now, new head of basketball operations David Griffin has some ammunition in trying to convince AD to stay, and even if he doesn’t, the Pelicans should be able to acquire an attractive package of young players and picks to go along with Zion and Jrue Holiday.

  2. GRIZZLIES- Ja Morant, PG, Murray St.  The Grizzlies considered trade offers for veteran point guard Mike Conley before the deadline, and you can bet they’ll be proactive in trying to find him a new home this summer. Morant led the nation in assists during his sophomore season at Murray St. and his court vision and playmaking ability will usher in a new era of basketball in Memphis. Farewell Grit ‘n Grind!

  3. KNICKS- R.J. Barrett, SG-SF, Duke.  Barrett is a volume scorer, who averaged 22.9 points per game during his one season at Duke and should be a good fit for the Knicks, who are looking for more offense after trading Tim Hardaway Jr. to Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis deal. New York didn’t get the dream scenario of bringing Zion Williamson to the Big Apple, but the Knicks still plan to go big-game hunting this summer, with free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in their sights.

  4. LAKERS- Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech.  Culver didn’t have a great Final 4 with the Red Raiders, but LeBron could use another scorer on the perimeter and Culver has an effective mid-range game, similar to Spurs’ veteran DeMar DeRozan. Given James’ desire to win right away, this pick also could be available in a trade for the right veteran player.

  5. CAVALIERS- De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia.  Hunter got the best of Culver and Texas Tech in the national title game, showing a soft touch from the outside and tremendous defensive versatility for a 6’7” forward. The Cavs need just about everything, but Hunter could be the choice to provide some defensive help up front for the often-injured Kevin Love.

  6. SUNS- Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt.  Phoenix is desperate for a versatile point guard to run the show for new head coach Monty Williams. Garland only played five games at Vandy before suffering a season-ending meniscus injury, but scouts love his potential as a scoring lead guard. The jury is still out on whether Garland will be comfortable in a facilitator role, setting up recent lottery picks Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges.

  7. BULLS- Coby White, G, North Carolina.  Paxson said dropping to the No. 7 spot might lead to the Bulls picking for positional need rather than simply the best player available. So, with four of the five starting spots set, look for the Bulls to go with the best point guard on the board. White came on strong late in the season and has the size to play either backcourt spot at 6’5”. Best-case scenario, he could provide the speed and scoring punch Sacramento is getting from 2017 lottery pick De’Aaron Fox.

  8. HAWKS- Cam Reddish, SF, Duke.  Reddish was considered a top 3 pick before a sub-par freshman season at Duke. Still, his size and athleticism will keep him in the top 10, and the Hawks could use a 3-and-D wing to go along with their developing, young team.

  9. WIZARDS- Sekou Doumbouya, F, France.  Scouts are divided on this rangy athlete, but with ex-Bulls Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker heading into free agency, the Wizards need to restock at the forward position. Doumbouya is one of the ultimate boom or bust picks in this year’s draft.

  10. HAWKS (from Dallas)-  Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas.  Atlanta could use more size up front with Dewayne Dedmon likely leaving in free agency. Hayes is extremely raw offensively, but should be able to offer rebounding and rim protection right away.

  11. TIMBERWOLVES- Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga.  With Taj Gibson likely leaving in free agency, the T-Wolves will need to add a reliable power forward to help out Karl-Anthony Towns on the boards. The decision could come down to the high-flying Clarke or his Gonzaga teammate Rui Hachimura, who is a more skilled offensive player but not as explosive as Clarke, who should blow away teams in individual workouts.

  12. HORNETS- Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana.  Charlotte could be in the need for some scoring punch if Kemba Walker leaves in free agency, and Langford is considered to be one of the top wing prospects in the draft even after an uneven freshman season at Indiana.

  13. HEAT- Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC.  With Miami capped out because of the bad contracts handed out by Pat Riley, they’ll need to swing for the fences in the draft and hope the super-athletic Porter Jr. eventually lives up to his preseason billing as one of the top players available in this draft.

  14. CELTICS- Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga.  Hachimura has some Al Horford to his game with a solid mid-range jumper and good basketball instincts. Boston has three picks in the first round, and will probably look to add some frontcourt depth with this pick since all the top point guards are already off the board. Oregon’s Bol Bol is another possibility here for a team that can afford to wait on the 7’2” center to fully recover from a broken foot.

The Bulls also have a pick in the 2nd round, No. 38 overall. At that point, they could go with a developmental big man like Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassey or LSU’s Naz Reid. Adding another shooter is a possibility with players like Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield, Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort and Washington’s Jaylen Nowell among the players who might still be on the board. Or, given the high numbers of young players already on the roster, the Bulls could draft an international player who might not come to the NBA for a few seasons.

Of course, the draft isn’t the only way for the Bulls to improve the roster. Paxson is still waiting on a decision from the league on whether the $3 million dollars owed to Omer Asik for next season will come off the team’s salary cap because of a career-ending medical condition, but the Bulls should have upwards of $20 million dollars to add a couple quality veterans to the NBA’s youngest team. If the Bulls draft a point guard like White, they might be less inclined to commit big dollars to a veteran at that position. But if they go another direction with the 7th overall pick, starting caliber free agents like Ricky Rubio and Darren Collison could come into play, as well as restricted free agents Malcolm Brogdon and Terry Rozier. Rozier told the Boston media following exit interviews last week that he would be looking to leave if both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are on the roster for next season since his role diminished considerably after those veterans returned from injury.

Meanwhile, the Bucks will have to spend a ton of money this summer to re-sign key rotation players Khris Middleton, Niko Mirotic and Brook Lopez, plus they have to make a decision on the non-guaranteed $18 million dollars on George Hill’s contract for next season. After giving starting point guard Eric Bledsoe a 4-year, $60 million dollar extension recently, the Bucks could be vulnerable to a lucrative, front loaded offer sheet for Brogdon, who was the only player in the NBA this season to reach the coveted 50-40-90 plateau, as in 50 percent shooting from the field, 40 percent from 3 point range, and 90 percent from the free throw line.

Paxson has gone on the record saying he wants to bring in competition at the point guard spot to challenge incumbent starter Kris Dunn at training camp in September. Where that competition comes from will be the biggest storyline surrounding the Bulls this summer.

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If the Bulls draft for need at No. 7, point guards Darius Garland and Coby White will be options

If the Bulls draft for need at No. 7, point guards Darius Garland and Coby White will be options

The dust has settled on a disappointing night at the NBA Draft Lottery in which the Bulls fell three spots to No. 7. Assuming they don’t move the pick, they’ll draft in the same slot for the third consecutive offseason, hoping lightning will strike a third time after they hit on Lauri Markkanen in 2017 and Wendell Carter Jr. in 2018.

Their situation this time around is a little different. Though they won just 22 games last season – in large part because of significant injuries to seven core players – the foundation is in place for the Bulls to be selective about who they draft.

In 2017, Markkanen was the best player available and the Bulls had added a shooting guard in Zach LaVine and a point guard in Kris Dunn in the Jimmy Butler deal. They opted for Carter in 2018, who was also seen as the top prospect on the board in what many considered a six-player draft (Ayton, Bagley, Doncic, Young, Jackson, Bamba). The Bulls had Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis when they took Markkanen, and Robin Lopez was coming off a career year in 2018 when they drafted Carter.

But the rebuild is beginning to take shape – as difficult as that may be to believe – and the Bulls have what they believe are foundation pieces at 2 (LaVine), 3 (Otto Porter), 4 (Markkanen) and 5 (Carter). Granted, the Bulls have one of the shallowest and worst benches in the NBA, so drafting a player at 7 who begins his career as a reserve wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Still, VP John Paxson addressed the point guard situation – as he did in April, saying the Bulls needed to get better at the position – and admitted the organization may not take the same approach in 2019 as they have in years’ past.

If that’s the case, there are two point guards who could be available when the Bulls go on the clock on June 20th in Brooklyn.

Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland enters draft season as one of the true enigmas in the class. A five-star prospect rated by ESPN as the 16th best prospect – ahead of Duke’s Tre Jones and North Carolina’s Coby White – Garland suffered a torn left meniscus in November and missed all but five games before declaring for the NBA Draft.

The injury won’t affect his draft stock and there’s nothing to suggest he’s injury-prone – something all Bulls fans want to know when asking about a point guard and his knees.

Garland is a point guard in name but can also play off the ball. He’s a terrific shooter both from beyond the arc and on pull-up jumpers. He’s a smart player in pick-and-roll action and attacks the basket well. He’s drawn comparisons from this author to Kemba Walker given the skill set listed above.

Zach LaVine had the ball in his hands plenty last season – more out of necessity than strategy – and if the Bulls choose to go that route again in 2020, Garland is capable of playing from the wing without the ball.

Like any young point guard, Garland will need to improve his decision making and work through an offense rather than trying to take over too much, especially at the pro level. His scorer’s mentality got him into trouble at times in his brief Vanderbilt career but he has all the makings of a point guard in today’s NBA. Consider the four point guards remaining in the NBA Playoffs – Curry, Lillard, Lowry and Bledsoe, all of whom averaged at least 1.6 triples per game in the regular season.

The issue with the Bulls picking seventh, of course, is that other teams are aware of the skill set Garland possesses. Just because he played five games doesn’t mean NBA scouts haven’t known about him for years. He’s not going to sneak up on any draft boards simply because he missed essentially his entire freshman season.

He’s the consensus No. 2 point guard in the class behind Ja Morant at this point in the pre-draft process. Assuming Zion Williamson, Morant and R.J. Barrett go 1-2-3, the Lakers at No. 4 and Suns at No. 6 could certainly be landing spots for Garland. The former may move on from Lonzo Ball in the offseason, while the latter has the NBA’s worst need for stability at the point and hasn’t drafted one in the first round since Tyler Ennis in 2014.

If Garland is off the board – for now that seems likely – and the Bulls stay at No. 7, they could shift their attention to North Carolina’s Coby White. He ran the point for the Tar Heels but at 6-foot-5 is more of a combo guard with a streaky outside shot and ability to run in transition.

North Carolina ran early and often, and White usually led that charge, but he committed turnovers on 19.1% of his transition possessions – compared to just 15% in halfcourt sets. White was an excellent jump shooter and finished well around the rim, averaging 1.286 points per possession on those attempts – for reference, Jamal Murray averaged 1.284 PPP around the rim during his freshman season at Kentucky.

The Bulls were among the slowest teams in basketball under Jim Boylen, but White would give them an opportunity to run. He’s got off-ball potential like Garland, too, giving the Bulls more options as an attacking offense. His pick-and-roll numbers left plenty to be desired – 0.756 points on 127 possessions, 52nd percentile – but at 18 years old he’s got room and time to improve.

There’s a good chance White isn’t technically the best prospect available when the Bulls go on the clock at No. 7. Guys like Jarrett Culver or De’Andre Hunter showed more in their freshman seasons and project as solid wing contributors. But again, this draft could be different for the Bulls. With four positions locked down, they could opt to go away from their past strategy and go grab a player at a position of need. Plus, the players in the 4-10 range are pretty clumped together at this stage. It wouldn’t be all that big of a reach, especially at No. 7 when the odds of finding a star are more limited.