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Bogans upset but diplomatic about final days with Bulls

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Bogans upset but diplomatic about final days with Bulls

NEWARK Without knowing whether the University of Kentucky offers classes in international diplomacy, it seems that Keith Bogans is an expert. The veteran shooting guard took the high road when discussing his December release from the Bulls, though it was hard not to notice his frustration.

It was tough. Right now, Im at that point where I dont really care to talk about it anymore. Its a learning experience for me. I just looked at as Im going to turn it into a positive, make me work my expletive off and thats what I did. It was fun playing with them last year, but as far as that, Im done with it, Bogans said Monday evening at his new home arena, the Prudential Center.

I had a great time. I wouldnt trade it for the world. Won, what, 62 games, went to the Eastern Conference Finals, one of the best years of my NBA career. Definitely wouldnt take anything from that. Thats one of the best things to happen to me, last year.

I stay in contact with everybody on that team. All those guys hit me up, wanting to know How and why, and I cant answer that. I still cant answer that. when I signed, I got a call from all of them, congratulating me, saying Finally, and they were just happy to see me back playing again because nobody understood what happened, continued Bogans, who was pulled off the Berto Center floor on the first day of training camp, after being led to believe that he would return to the Bulls, who he didnt mention by name.

It is what it is. I dont keep up with them. Ive got a new team now. This is who I represent. It was Chicago last year. When youre in this business and you move around like I do, you get used to it. Put it behind you and move on.

But when asked if he felt disrespected by his former team, the current New Jersey Net let down the faade a bit.

Who wouldnt? Come on, were all men here first, he said. Were men before basketball players. I dont want to say the wrong thing, so Im going to be quiet and just let it go.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who also coached Bogans in Houston, praised his former player.

Keiths Keith. He does his job every night. Hes going to play great defense, said Thibodeau. Hes going to knock down open threes, brings a lot of toughness to the team and he fits in to what theyre doing.

Though Bogans wouldnt pretend the struggling Nets are a better situation than a title-contending Bulls squad, he has taken some positives out of the situation.

Its a new team for me. Im going forward. Im not looking back. Good young team, trying to rebuild and Im here to help the young guys get better, he said. I can bring a lot. I bring experience. One of the older guys in this locker room again, so Im teaching young guys. Its fun for me.

"Im not going to put any pressure on myself that Ive got to do this against them or do that. Im just trying to learn this system and get back in shape. Those are two main things that Im trying to do right now, continued Bogans, who wouldnt offer up any predictions for Mondays game though his facial expression spoke volumes about his new role. Im just happy to be back playing ball after sitting at home for a month-and-a-half, not knowing. To me, its a blessing that I got another opportunity to come here and play."

Bulls crack the top-10 in ESPN's NBA League Pass Rankings

Bulls crack the top-10 in ESPN's NBA League Pass Rankings

The Bulls have struggled through the 2019-20 NBA preseason but have shown signs of a team on the rise in a drastically different Eastern Conference. ESPN's Zach Lowe released the second half of his NBA League Pass Rankings, with the Bulls making a surprise leap into the top 10 that supports the notion that they are a team set to be entertaining and much more effective in the 2019-20 NBA season.

While Lowe's League Pass Rankings are not power rankings, they go hand-in-hand with the idea that the Bulls are starting to become an interesting team on the national stage.

The highest score a team can get in Lowe's League Pass Rankings is a 50, based on a 1-10 ranking in five separate categories. The Bulls received a score of 34.5, finishing right behind the Utah Jazz.

Lowe credits the potential for Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. to develop into a "rare frontcourt pairing" as one of his main reasons for telling readers to look out for the Bulls this season.

While Markkanen has yet to shoot over 50% from 2-point range and Carter has yet to attempt more than 18 3-pointers in a season, the potential is there for both of these players to improve greatly in both of these areas, truly making them a "rare" and formidable offensive duo. 

Throughout Lowe's League Pass Ranking-breakdown of the Bulls, he had kind words for the Bulls' new pinstriped jerseys, the improvisational ability of the Bulls' veterans and LaVine's dunking ability.

LaVine is the best dunker since prime Vince Carter... 

-Zach Lowe on Zach LaVine 

And while Lowe hinted at Bulls head coach Jim Boylen playing a bit of a character, he had positive thoughts on him as well. Lowe calls Boylen, "a smart coach," and states "there is even some logic in how he stripped the Bulls down to the basics of physicality and effort upon taking over."

The Bulls have lofty goals for the 2019-20 season, making the playoffs being the biggest one. At the same time, they are not pressuring the roster as Boylen himself has stated the most important goal is to "get better every day."

From what has been written about the Bulls this preseason — including Lowe's League Pass Rankings — it would appear most NBA writers expect the Bulls to be a more entertaining, effective, and cohesive unit over the course of the 2019-20 season. On October 23, when the games start to count, we will see if the Bulls can back up the hype.

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Kevin Durant chimes in on Zach LaVine's comments on mid-range shooting

Kevin Durant chimes in on Zach LaVine's comments on mid-range shooting

There is much discussion in the basketball community surrounding the value of the midrange shot following a Sun-Times article from Joe Cowley that discussed the Bulls analytics department wanting Zach LaVine to limit his mid-range attempts, and a segment on ESPN's The Jump, discussing the same topic. On Tuesday morning Matt Moore of the Action Network chimed in, offering up the statistics that clearly support the notion that LaVine should be shooting many, many more 3-pointers than 2s. 

While Moore's points were solid and backed up by the numbers, NBA superstar Kevin Durant offered up his opinion from a player's perspective. Durant backed up LaVine's quote of "sometimes there's nothing better than putting the ball in your best playmaker's hands and letting him get the shot he needs rather than the one you want." KD commented that he has seen too many players pass up wide-open midrange shots to force up 3-pointers or contested shots at the rim, with analytics having an influence on the shots that players take, referring the mid-range as "forbidden."

Durant went on to comment and respond to users' comments on the situation. In one response Durant agrees with a user who states that he is teaching his son to work on his mid-range game first and shoot 3-pointers once he is strong enough, stating "that's how I was taught."

Moore had some fun with the response from Durant, stating that when he initially tweeted about the topic, his intentions were not to get into a debate on the value of mid-range shots with an active NBA player who is already among the all-time greats. 

 Moore's original sentiment agrees with what the Bulls' analytics department is trying to accomplish. LaVine has always been a good mid-range shooter but last year alone he shot 35.8% on mid-range shots and 37.4% on 3-point attempts.

It is obvious that players still need to have to players who can hit mid-range attempts, as some of the best teams in the league—including recent NBA champions Toronto and Golden State, who finished second in the league in percentage of points coming from mid-range shots—have relied on players who can generate solid mid-range attempts in high-leverage moments. But Durant's point is important to note too.

Durant stated that you have to be "confident to make any shot" but countered that whatever you work on the most is what you will be best at. He doubled down on that point, saying most primary scoring options in the NBA shouldn't worry about analytics and should play off of feel, rather than numbers. 

Ultimately, there has to be a balance.

As we have seen through the preseason, taking fewer shots from the mid-range has certainly appeared to benefit LaVine's game, as he is currently fourth in the league in preseason scoring, averaging 23.3 points per game through three contests. But taking what the defense gives you, especially when you are as confident of a player as Durant or LaVine, still needs to be emphasized. 

In what should be a huge season for LaVine, he will again have a high-usage rate as he looks to lead the Bulls to a bounce-back season and mid-range shots, while limited, will still be a part of his shot profile.

So as far as Chicago Bulls fans should be concerned, this is a win-win. LaVine has clearly taken to heart was the Bulls' analytics department is preaching by shooting fewer mid-rangers but he still understands that that shot is going to be necessary for certain moments. So when LaVine is open from mid-range in 2019-20, the Bulls coaching staff will likely be saying the same thing Durant did on Tuesday morning, "Shoot em Zach."

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