Bulls

Bulls look to recover in Orlando on CSN

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Bulls look to recover in Orlando on CSN

The Bulls are hoping not to be on the wrong end of a team snapping a long losing streak when they travel to Orlando to take on the Magic tonight. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. followed by Bulls Postgame Live with Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill.
Tom Thibodeau's group ended 2012 on a sour note on Monday in a loss to the Bobcats, 91-81, to help Charlotte break an 18-game losing streak that dated back to Nov. 24. During that streak, opponents scored 100 or more points 15 times, yet the Bulls could only muster 81 points on a dreadful 35 percent shooting.
The Bulls' performance should give the Magic, losers of six straight, some added confidence heading into tonight's matchup. That, and the same day the Bulls had their hiccup against Charlotte, Orlando went down to the wire against the defending champion Miami Heat.
Related: Bulls play down to competition in Charlotte loss
The Magic led by as many as 11 points in the second half and seven in the fourth quarter, but LeBron James and company came back to win, 112-110, in overtime. But behind the late collapse was a career performance from center Nikola Vucevic, who went for 20 points and 29 rebounds against the Heat's weak interior.
Considered, more or less, as a throw-in as part of the four-team deal that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles and Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, the 22-year-old Vucevic has been a force inside through the season's first two months.
Starting all 31 games, Vucevic is averaging 10.8 points and 10.5 rebounds, the latter of which ranks seventh in the NBA. He's also improved since Glen Davis was sidelined with a shoulder injury, averaging 14.5 points 14.3 rebounds over the last six games. He went for 16 points and 10 rebounds in his first meeting with the Bulls on Nov. 6. It will be a tough task for Joakim Noah, if he's able to play -- Noah is still sick and is a game-time decision with flu-like symptoms, as is Vladimir Radmanovic.
Vucevic will be at the forefront of the Bulls' gameplan tonight, along with another newcomer leading the Magic in scoring in 2012-'13.
Related: Orlando's Davis says Bulls will be fine without Rose
Shooting guard Arron Afflalo was also a part of the Magic's deal involving Howard, coming from the overcrowded small forward position in Denver, and has thrived in his increased role in Orlando. Now in his sixth season, Afflalo scored 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting in the Magic's 99-93 loss in Chicago on Nov. 6, and has averaged 21.3 points during Orlando's losing streak.
Not to be forgotten behind Afflalo is sixth man J.J. Redick, who is also enjoying a career year in the wake of the All-Star Howard's departure. He has started just four games but is fourth on the team in minutes per game, averaging 14.4 points, 2.0 3-pointers, 2.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists, all of which are career-highs.
He may be a potential target for the Bulls at the trade deadline, as reported by CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher. Starter Rip Hamilton has returned to the lineup, and Marco Belinelli was improved in December, but the Bulls could be looking to shore up the position by acquiring another shooter; Redick would certainly fill that role.
Related: Could Bulls be players for Redick at deadline?
Afflalo and Redick have picked up the scoring load with Davis and Jameer Nelson (hip) out, but Nelson will return to the lineup tonight. They're coming off a solid performance against the Heat, and the Bulls are coming off their worst loss in the Tom Thibodeau era, so it could go either way tonight in Orlando. Tune into Comcast SportsNet all evening for your Bulls coverage, beginning at 6 p.m.

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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USA TODAY

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: