Bulls

Boozer in starting lineup Wednesday vs. Magic

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Boozer in starting lineup Wednesday vs. Magic

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
Updated 1:45 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

On a day where league-wide focus is on LeBron James much-anticipated return to Cleveland on Thursday night, all eyes in the Windy City are on the Bulls, specifically whether Carlos Boozer makes his season and team debut Wednesday evening at the United Center.

After Mondays practice, Boozers first full-contact session since suffering a broken fifth metacarpal on Oct. 2, the prized offseason acquisition indicated he was optimistic he would suit up against the visiting Magic -- he even made reference to the shellacking the Bulls received in Orlando during the preseason -- on Wednesday. After Tuesdays practice, however, the two-time All-Star tried to temper expectations.

Its still a little sore. I may or may not play Wednesday, but Im hoping this week or this weekend, cautioned Boozer. I feel close.

When its ready, Ill be out there. ... Well just see how it feels, he added. It got hit yesterday, so it was a little sore today. Look, guys -- Ill be out there when Im out there. You guys will know. Hang in there. If you have any questions about Orlando, we can rap about Orlando, but when my hands ready, you guys will know about it.

Despite Boozer emphasizing patience to the media, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was more optimistic.

Well see how it goes Wednesday, but I cant foresee any problems, he said, adding a decision would be made after Boozer warmed up prior to Wednesdays game, which is standard practice for Bulls dealing with injury issues. If hes not having any problems and as long as hes comfortable, were ready to get started.

Boozer gives you a guy you can run pick-and-roll with, you can post him up and we want to be an inside-out team," continued Thibodeau, who also praised Boozers underrated passing ability. "In order to be successful, you have to be well-balanced. We have a great pick-and-roll game with Derrick already. Carlos will only add to it and now well have a stronger low-post game. When you hit him in the post and you cut, if youre open, hes a very willing passer.

Aside from his on-court contributions, Bulls center Joakim Noah also thinks Boozer has added to the teams chemistry.

Carlos is a good dude, said Noah. Hes been on every road trip with us, hes been at every practice. Hes a good leader, hes a good vet to have around and hes definitely going to help us when he steps onto that court.

Whether that day is Wednesday or not, Boozer is chomping at the bit to make his Bulls debut.

I want to play in the worst way. I hate sitting out and I think our whole team is like that. we all want to win. I just want to be out there and be part of it, said Boozer. Im very anxious. Im looking forward to getting out there.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

B/R names Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season

B/R names Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season

Bleacher Report named Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season. The list included five players whose expectations have exceeded what author Grant Hughes, felt is realistic for this upcoming season. It is not entirely shocking for LaVine to make this list, and his defense was the main reason he was included. But the potential for his offensive output to get even better was somewhat overlooked. 

Per Hughes:

In 2016-17, he ranked 441st out of 468 players in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus metric. Last year, he was 490th out of 521. According to Basketball Reference, he's never posted a defensive box plus-minus in positive territory. He topped out at minus-2.0 in his abbreviated 2017-18 season.....It's hard to justify rotation minutes for a player like that, let alone $78 million.

Hughes’ critique is harsh, but based off of statistics that are hard to argue with. LaVine has indeed been one of the worst defenders in the league for the entirety of his NBA career, and his netting of the $78 million falls hand-in-hand with Jabari Parker’s comments on players not being paid to play defense. But for the Bulls to take the leap from lottery-to-playoff contender, at least a league-average D will have to be cobbled together. But that responsibility will not fall solely on his shoulders, and that is why I am skeptical on the idea of LaVine being “overhyped”. 

The post goes on to elaborate that even if LaVine was to recapture the magic of his solid 2016-17 season, he still would be a player who gives up more points on defense than he gets his team on offense. That is a strong possibility, but with the addition of Wendell Carter Jr. as another rim protector, capable of at least providing a hard hedge (if not an outright switch), there is a possibility that LaVine becomes a more aggressive defender out on the perimeter. But that is unlikely, and a much more realistic outcome is LaVine’s offensive value surpassing what is expected.

LaVine’s strength last season was his ability to get to the free throw line. Despite coming off a major ACL injury, he was able to get 4.5 free throw attempts per game, a mark that would’ve had him sandwiched between players like Kyrie Irving and Victor Oladipo had he qualified (LaVine only played in 24 games). It was the highest free throw attempt rate of his career, and assuming he expands on that in a year where he should be completely healthy, he will be one of the best in the league at getting to the line. 

His efficiency will be helped by players like Parker and Lauri Markkanen, who will draw attention off of him. LaVine’s 3-point percentage last season was 34 percent, a number that was more of a reflection of that fact that he was still working his way back into game shape. That 3-point percentage will soon trend more towards the 38 percent mark he shot the previous two seasons. And his 3-point attempts were also down, another mark that is sure to trend upwards, especially with Parker’s inclusion as a scorer who does most of his half-court work in the mid-post area. 

The way the 2018-19 Bulls are built, there is little behind Kris Dunn in the way of a reliable backup point guard, though there is belief internally that Cam Payne can develop into that player. But there is a strong possibility that LaVine will be used as a backup point guard to free up minutes for one of Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine or Chandler Hutchison. And in his rookie year, playing point guard, LaVine had an assist rate of 24 percent, but also an incredibly high turnover percentage. Since making the full-time switch to shooting guard, he has not posted a turnover rate above 10 percent. So, if he can adjust to the fact that there are other players capable of scoring 20 points on the floor—like he did in Minnesota—it is entirely possible for LaVine to be a player capable of getting you 20 points and five assists per game while scoring efficiently and avoiding turnovers. Even if his defense continues to be dreadful, a player who can keep the offense running well from either guard spot is definitely valuable in today’s league. 

In his last season with Minnesota, LaVine had a usage rate of 21.7 percent, a number much lower than his extremely high 29.5 usage rate last season with the Bulls. And while many think of LaVine as a high-volume shooter, his usage rate last year was likely a result of him forcing the issue to try to prove he was worth a significant investment. With his shiny, new contract in tow, LaVine should be focused on making the team better, and get one step closer to his Timberwolves self. On that squad, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each scored 20+ points per game, while LaVine was averaging 18.9 points per game. And the team finished in the top 10 in the NBA in offensive rating.

It is not crazy to think the Bulls could have their own high-scoring trio in LaVine, Markkanen and Parker. And if that is the case, then the expectation is for LaVine to be a efficient scorer who can occasionally spot the open man. Hyped? Yes. But overhyped? No one is banking on him being an All-Star, though it remains in the realm of possibility. The idea that he is overhyped is based on the fact his new contract is $78 million and he is poor at defense, but this is overlooking the fact that LaVine has proven he is a player capable of having a large role on a top-10 offense. September 30 can’t get here fast enough.  

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

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USA TODAY

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

Lauri Markkanen doesn't often feel short.

The Bulls forward is 7-feet tall, which even in the land of NBA giants makes him one of the tallest players on the court at all times. So when Markkanen stands next to Yao Ming, it changes perspective quite a bit.

Markkanen posted a photo with him and the 7-foot-6 Chinese Hall of Famer. Markkanen looks like a child.

Makes you wonder if Markkanen pulled some "What's the weather like up there?" jokes just because he otherwise never can.