Bulls

Bulls could add two perimeter players

606654.png

Bulls could add two perimeter players

So, are you caught up in the speculation over which wing scorer the Bulls will be able to acquire for the upcoming season? Dont be surprised if they wind up making more than one move before the opener against the Lakers on Christmas Day.

As first reported on Hoopsworld, free agent guard Jamal Crawfords preference would be a second tour of duty with the Bulls through a sign and trade deal with Atlanta. According to the report, the Bulls would offer Ronnie Brewer and an unnamed second player (most likely Kyle Korver) to match a first year salary in the 8 to 9 million range for Crawford.

Now, why would Tom Thibodeau want a guy who my studio partner, Kendall Gill, calls the worst defensive player hes ever seen? Well, its pretty simple. Thibodeau has supreme confidence in his team defense concepts, and believes he can make anyone (including Crawford) a better defensive player. And, Jamal can provide instant offense as well as any shooting guard thats currently available.

Crawford was the Sixth Man of the Year for the 2009-2010 season when he averaged 18 points a game off the bench for the Hawks. Last season, his numbers dipped to 14.2 ppg on 42 shooting from the field, but as we saw in the playoff series against the Bulls, hes still got a lot of bounce in those legs, and can create a shot off the dribble, something the Bulls were sorely lacking outside of Derrick Rose in that playoff loss to Miami.

Adding Crawford would also allow Rose to play off the ball at times, and put his newly honed low-post skills to work. Lets face it, the Bulls asked Rose to do everything last season, and he responded by winning the MVP award. But all parties agree the Bulls would be more efficient, and Rose would have more energy in reserve for the playoffs, if he wasnt asked to carry the offense in each and every game.

Okay, so I mentioned the possibility of adding two new wing players. How is that possible? Well, if the Bulls match salaries in a trade for Crawford, they would still have their full mid-level exception to go after a solid veteran to back-up Luol Deng and also get minutes at the shooting guard spot. Maybe a veteran like Caron Butler, Josh Howard, Shane Battier, Tayshaun Prince or Grant Hill. All of those players would be great additions to the roster, more than making up for the loss of Brewer andor Korver in a trade for Crawford.

Right now, the Miami Heat are targeting Battier as their new sixth man, but maybe the Bulls could make a pitch to steal him away, citing better team chemistry with a no-nonsense, defense first coach. Hill is nearing the end of his career, but still is able to contribute on both ends of the floor. Butler or Howard would give the Bulls another scoring option, who could compete with Crawford for the starting spot opposite Rose. And, Prince would be an ideal defender for the Bulls system, who could even play some power forward at times, which would give the front office even more flexibility in considering future moves.

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Picture yourself at 19 years old.

Maybe you were in college. Maybe you hit the job market early.

What you likely weren’t doing was guarding one the NBA’s best centers in your first professional game.

That was the task charged to Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls’ 127-108 loss to the 76ers in the season opener at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday.

Carter Jr. was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft after just one season at Duke. He earned the start in his NBA debut after an impressive preseason, but nothing could’ve prepared him for going up against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Carter Jr. said when asked if Embiid was as impressive as he thought he’d be. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of, or the best, big man in the league. Very skilled, very poised. He knows his spots on the court.

“I didn’t go out there with my best effort. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Carter Jr. had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in 20 minutes. He also picked up four fouls, which the rookie attributed to the physicality and craftiness of Embiid.

But he did flash the impressive and varied skill set that made him a high pick and such a coveted prospect. He was also able to garner the praise of the Bulls’ veterans.

“Even though Wendell got in foul trouble he was still playing (Embiid) solid,” Zach LaVine, who scored a team-high 30 points, said. “That’s a tough first game right there. But he didn’t lack for confidence. Made him take some tough shots, but he’s going to make them. He’s that type of player.”

To his credit, Carter Jr. was candid about his performance. He admitted that his emotions ran the gamut from nervous to excited to happy.

In a season that will have its ups and downs as the young Bulls develop and learn, there will likely be more games like this against other elite NBA competition. It’ll be how Carter Jr. responds that will define his career.

“It’s the first game so I don’t want to put too much on myself,” Carter Jr. said. “It would be different if it was like the 50th game or 60th game. It’s the first game. We’re just going to move on from it. We’ve got our home opener on Saturday (vs. the Pistons). That’s where my mind is right now.”

See, he’s learning already.

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

The Bulls backup point guard situation will be in dire straits all season, with no established veteran behind Kris Dunn. And although the front office has seemingly committed to Cameron Payne as the backup PG (for at least this season), Ryan Arcidiacono showed enough in the season opener to justify giving him meaningful plying time in the rotation. 

Here are the stat lines of Arcidiacono and Cameron Payne from the season opener in Philadelphia:

Arcidiacono: 8 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 from the 3-point line

Payne:           0 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 from the 3-point line

With so many capable ball handlers and score-first players on the Bulls, point and assist totals aren’t as important as the rebounds and 3-point attempts. To provide the necessary space needed for driving lanes, there has to be openings in the defense caused by defenders sticking close to player they believe are a threat to shoot.

And that is where the problem lies with Payne.

Ryan Arcidiacono—while by no means a dominant scorer—showed a willingness to attack off of the pick-and-roll, even showing off an impressive ball-fake:


Payne, despite coming into the league with the reputation of a scorer, has yet to be aggressive enough to make teams think twice about leaving him wide-open on the perimeter. And he is not one to attack the basket with purpose, averaging less than half a free throw per game for his career. Payne's general lack of aggressiveness when on the floor is often times made worse by his occasional poor post entry passes that seem predetermined:

Even if the above play was designed to get the ball to LaVine in the mid-post, Payne chooses a terrible time to make the pass. When he starts the motion to give the ball to LaVine, Ben Simmons is positioned in front of LaVine to force a tougher pass, as rookie Landry Shamet gambles over the backside to get the steal.

Had Payne chose to swing the ball around the perimeter, or give it to Bobby Ports and then get it back, he could have created an opening for the LaVine pass.

Obviously, the Bulls 19-point loss can’t be blamed on solely on Payne, the terrible defense was a group effort, as was the sometimes questionable shot selection. But with the defense already appearing to be perhaps one of the league's worst units, Fred Hoiberg would be wise to put Arcidiacono in more.

Hoiberg is in a crucial year where he needs to show that he can be the head coach of this team when they finally become competitive.

And for Hoiberg to show that type of growth as a coach, he needs to set the tone that minutes are earned not given, something he has already started with his moving of Jabari Parker to the bench. Payne only received 22 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for Arcidiacono, and it is tough to see that changing if things continue on like they did on Thursday night.