Bulls

Bulls anxious to turn tables on Sixers

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Bulls anxious to turn tables on Sixers

PHILADELPHIA It would be a stretch to call Sundays game a grudge match, but lets just say the Bulls didnt take their 16-point defeat at the hands of the 76ers last month lightly. The good news is they believe they know how to remedy what went wrong.

Play a lot tougher. Theyre good. They beat us up pretty good last time we played them here. Just got to make the adjustment, where we know its going to be a hard-fought game and come out prepared, Derrick Rose said, prior to the teams Sunday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center. Our effort. They beat us to every loose ball, out-rebounded us, transition couldnt stop them in transition, just getting back and it was hard to look at that tape.

Come out more prepared. Theyre a good team. I think were kind of mad at the way that they smacked us last time, at their place. Its definitely going to be a fun game, he continued. I think being locked in all 48 minutes. Theyre a good team. I thought the first half, we played decent over there, kind of lost focus a little bit in the second half and they made their run. Weve got to stop that. Weve got to go in focused. Were playing a very good team, good team at home, but were pretty confident with the last three games that weve played and having everyone back, so were looking forward to going out there and having a good game.

Rip Hamilton, who missed the February loss, chimed in from an observers viewpoint: They beat us to every loose ball, they came out with a lot of energy. It was game that we wanted to get that they won, so tonight we want to be prepared to hit first.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau diagnosed his teams issues in the blowout defeat, in which he sat his starters throughout the entire fourth quarter, from a strategic standpoint.

They were really soft in the pick-and-roll. They were forcing weak. We turned the ball over. That was our big problem, he said. Theyre athletic and quick, and if you turn the ball over, you put them in the open floor and thats where they do their damage. The thing thats different about them is they have a number of guys who can go off the dribble. Iguodala can handle the ball a lot, Holiday handles the ball, Lou Williams comes in great pick-and-roll player Turner can handle the ball and then, Thaddeus Young, hes a matchup problem because of his quickness at the four.

Thibodeau lauded the Sixers unselfishness on offense, citing it as a key to their success this season, in which they lead the Atlantic Division, ahead of more ballyhooed squads, such as Boston and New York.

They play for each other. I think thats the important thing. Play to win, make the extra pass, hit the open man, so I think you start off with that in mind. It starts off with your primary scorers. I think they have the responsibility of making the right play, so when theyre one-on-one and have the opportunities to score, they look to do so, but when the second defender comes, they have the responsibility to make the right play, hit the open man, said Thibodeau. The hard thing is being committed as a team to share the ball and I think if you have the right guys, theyll do that and I think if you look at the good teams in this league, to advance and to play well, I think you have to do that, so if one guys holding on to the ball, it makes it easy on the defense.

Options if the Bulls trade down: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura

Options if the Bulls trade down: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura

On draft night, there is a decent possibility that the Bulls front office looks at their draft board and collectively decide that they can get a player with No. 7 pick value later in the first round. They could be inclined to feel this way more than in most years due to the 2019 draft class being such a toss up after the top three picks. If the Bulls traded down in the draft, I am assuming they would be netting a valuable future first-round pick, likely with some minimal protections. In this series, we will be looking at prospects the Bulls could take should they trade down in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Rui Hachimura per The Stepien:

71 percent at the rim

44.2 percent on short midrange

47.6 percent on long midrange

52.1 percent on NBA 3s (12/23)

Boylen talked a ton this season about “toughness” being a key tenet of the new Bulls culture moving forward. The idea of that “toughness” didn’t translate on the court heavily, though the Bulls did improve slightly in rebound rate under Boylen.

From the time for Boylen took over, the Bulls ranked 14th in defensive rebound rate and 25th in total rebound rate, up from 16th and 28th respectively under Hoiberg. Those numbers are a bit of smoke-and-mirrors with all the factors at play this past (weird) Bulls season.

But Boylen did have a much heavier focus on generating points inside first, with the team ranking third in the league in points in the paint per game during his tenure. Rui Hachimura fits in extremely well with the idea of the Bulls punishing teams inside with low-post scoring depth, resulting in open looks on the perimeter.

Hachimura stands 6-feet-8-inches tall, 230 lbs., with a 7-foot-2-inch wingspan. He is a very physical player and utilizes his wingspan incredibly well in traffic. Hachimura posted a 17.4 percent defensive rebound rate over his three-years at Gonzaga. I mentioned above how Hachimura embraces contact and his career average of 7.5 free throw attempts per 40 minutes helps showcase his ability to be a wrecking ball in the paint.

He has the potential to excel as a small-ball center with the right personnel surrounding him. The fact that he can grab a defensive board and initiate the fastbreak makes him an even more valuable prospect. But when you consider that lineups with he and Markkanen as the two bigs on the floor would have five capable ball-handlers, the idea of Rui in Chicago becomes even more enticing.

Overall, Hachimura is a great prospect with a solid skill set that should allow him to be a decent scorer from day one, it all just depends on how much of an opportunity he gets.

The Bulls--as John Paxson has reiterated many, many times now--feel comfortable with the starters they have at the two, three, four and five positions, with point guard being their main area of weakness. While the Bulls don’t necessarily need another big, they do need to add productive players who are young. With Boylen’s emphasis on having multiple ball-handlers, driving the ball and points in the paint, Hachimura would be a logical selection, though No. 7 overall could be a bit of a reach for the 21-year old big.

His defense definitely has a long way to go--as with most NBA draft prospects--but Hachimura’s situation is unique since he literally had a language barrier to overcome when he first got to Gonzaga in 2017. The belief right now is that Hachimura is in a comfortable spot right now in terms of both speaking and understanding English, as reporting from Sam Vecine of the The Athletic (LINK is behind a paywall) and others has backed up.

With that being said, the Japanese forward still makes too many mistakes on the defensive end of the floor to be a surefire top 10 pick.

He is at his core an offensive-minded player, and as a result has not exactly developed much in the way of defensive intensity over the years. Hachimura averaged 0.6 steals per game and 0.5 blocks per game for his NCAA career.

For comparison’s sake, his steal and block rates are almost identical to Marvin Bagley III during his time at Duke. Bagley had a highly productive rookie season with the Kings--landing a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First-Team--but the Kings defense was still four points worse when he was on the floor per cleaningtheglass.com ($).

Despite having similar measurements to Bagley, I don’t believe that Hachimura posses quite the level of athleticism that Bagley does, making his path to becoming an above average defender that much harder.

Ultimately, if Hachimura’s awesome shooting numbers from NBA 3-point range (41.7 percent) on a small sample size (36 attempts) aren’t smoke-and-mirrors, he will greatly outplay his draft position. Hachimura shot 52.1 percent on his NBA range 3-pointers and also has a career 74.6 percent free throw percentage. Whether he was diving to the rim on pick-and-rolls with Lauri spacing the floor, or playing in a high/low offense with another big on the bench unit, there is a clear path to Hachimura being effective in Chicago. It would just take a ton of patience from the Bulls new-look coaching staff.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bulls need a point guard. The Bears Top 100 list continues

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bulls need a point guard. The Bears Top 100 list continues

0:00- Will Perdue drops by to talk hoops. What will the Bulls do this summer to address their point guard need?

7:00- The Bulls need a point guard. Derrick Rose is a free agent. Should they bring him back home?

11:30- Carman says the Bulls should consider trading for Lonzo Ball. Kap yells at him.

16:30- Will talks about this year's playoffs and if anybody will be the Warriors?

20:00- The Bears Top 100 list continues to dominate discussion. Chris makes the case for Jay Cutler to be higher. He gets yelled at.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: