Bulls looking for a steal on summer league roster


Bulls looking for a steal on summer league roster

LAS VEGAS Whether or not Adrian Griffins candidacy for the open head-coaching vacancy in Portland gains traction, one thing that can be said about his debut as the Bulls summer-league head coach is that, like his boss, his team showed resiliency.
The Bulls assistant coach, who interviewed with the Trail Blazers after arriving in Las Vegas for the NBA summer league, lost to the Celtics in the teams first game Tuesday night, but while play was ragged at times, the teams comeback was admirable.
However, in another similarity to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, Griffin doesnt believe in moral victories, stating: The first quarter was fine, but I think the second quarter got away from us. His protg, Jimmy Butlerthe only player with Bulls regular-season experience on the summer-league rosterfollowed suit, explaining: In the first half, we let them do whatever they wanted to doshoot open jumpers, not guarding the ball tough enoughand thats why they got up 20, but then when we started playing Chicago Bulls basketball, we cut it down to a pretty marginal lead.
Regardless, even aside from Butlers strong performance and first-round draft pick Marquis Teagues struggles, there was more to evaluate for a team that could have a handful of non-guaranteed training-camp invitees this fall with a chance to make the actual roster. For those players, their outings were being monitored by the likes of Thibodeau, Bulls general manager Gar Forman and team executive vice president John Paxson, all of whom were sitting in the stands at Cox Pavillion on the campus of UNLV.
Malcolm Thomas, an athletic power forward from San Diego State who had a cup of coffee with the Spurs last season, as well as excelling in the D-League in his first year out of college, was impressive. Thomas finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots on the evening, and played with boundless energy, something the Bulls could be in need of, as they continue to scour the free-agent market.
Malcolm Thomas is a very good player, Thibodeau told CSNChicago.com about the defensive-minded San Diego native, who teamed up with Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in college and would be a potential candidate if the Bulls search for additional big-man depth. Hes looking for an opportunity, played very well last year in the D-League, has a lot of energy. I think hes very capable.
Joining Thomas, Teague and Butler in the starting lineup was a true rookie, shooting guard Ramone Moore and while the Temple products numberseight points on 3-for-5 shootingarent exactly eye-opening, his smooth outside stroke and overall headiness showed maturity. The 6-foot-5 Philadelphia native also earned some praise from Thibodeau.
Hes skilled and hes a good player, he said. This will be a good test for him, so well see how he does.
As for Moore himself, he found himself matched up with a familiar face in Bostons Dionte Christmas, another Philadelphian and Temple product (in the interest of full disclosure, Temple is also the alma mater of this writer).
We already knew coming into the game what to expect in playing against each other, Moore said afterwards. Its a Temple thing. Its good to play against each other.
I just want to come in, do as much as I can. This is our first summer-league game, he continued. Weve been going pretty hard, just trying to prepare and everybody just wants to go out here, and show their talent. Ive been shooting the ball pretty well and working on it, and thats something I can bring to this team.
The final member of the Bulls starting quintet also has the most NBA experience.
After not playing in the league last season, Leon Poweironically, a former player for Boston, the team the Bulls lost to Tuesdayis on a comeback mission. After being plagued with knee injuries since his high school days, the undersized power forward hopes to give it another shot. His Bulls summer-league debut, however, wasnt stellar, as he appeared to be working the rust off.
Hes proven to be a very good NBA player. Unfortunately for him, hes had health issues, so the big thing is he has to prove to people that hes healthy, Thibodeau, who coached Powe with the Celtics, told CSNChicago.com. The fact that hes out here is a good sign and now he has to play well.
In addition to his experience, Powe has another advantage from his familiarity with Thibodeau, who implemented his defensive philosophy in Boston under Doc Rivers.
Got my body back where I want it, no knee brace, so everything is feeling good. Just happy to be back out there, Powe told CSNChicago.com. I know all the defensive schemes, most of the offense already. Ive only been here like three days. Its been going real well for me.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

John Calipari's 2017 recruiting class featured five McDonald's All-Americans and Hamidou Diallo, a former five-star recruit who nearly jumped to the NBA the previous year. It also included a lanky 6-foot-6 point guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And for the first part of the 2017-18 season, the Toronto native who played his final two high school years in Tennessee, appeared to be a nice fit off the bench for Calipari.

But something flipped. Gilgeous-Alexander was inserted into the starting lineup for good on January 9 and never looked back. He played his best basketball beginning in late February to the end of the season, a span of 10 games against eight NCAA Tournament opponents. In those games Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep and 84 percent from the free throw line, and added 1.4 steals in nearly 38 minutes per game for good measure. He was one of the best players in the country, and on a team with five McDonald's All-Americans, he was Calipari's best freshman.

"I knew with how hard I worked that anything was possible," SGA said at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "It was just a matter of time before it started clicking and I started to get it rolling."

That stretch included a 17-point, 10-assist double-double against Ole Miss, a 29-point showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, and 27 more points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Buffalo. Even in his worst game of the stretch, a 15-point effort against Kansas State in the Tournament, he made up for 2 of 10 shooting by getting to the free throw line 12, converting 11 of them.

It made his decision to make the jump to the NBA an easy one - that, and another loaded Calipari recruiting class incoming. He stands taller than just about any other point guard in the class and might have as good a jump shot as any. He's adept at getting to the rim, averaging 4.7 free throw attempts per game (that number jumped to 5.6 after he became a starter, and 7.5 in those final 10 games of the season. He isn't the quickest guard in the class, but he uses his feet well, is able to find open shooters due to his height and improved on making mistakes on drive-and-kicks as the season went on.

"I think I translate really well to the next level with there being so much more space on the floor and the open court stretched out," he said. "It only benefits me and my ability to get in the lane and make plays."

There's something to be said for him being the next in line of the Calipari point guards. The ever-growing list includes players like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray and DeAaron Fox. It's the NBA's version of Penn State linebackers or Alabama defensive linemen. The success rate is nearly 100 percent when it comes to Calipari's freshmen point guards; even Brandon Knight averaged 18.1 points over a three-year span in the NBA.

"That’s why guys go to Kentucky," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "It prepares them for the next level. Coach (Calipari) does a really good job, especially with point guards, getting them ready for that next level in a short amount of time."

Gilgeous-Alexander didn't test or play in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, but he still came out of Chicago a winner. He measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a ridiculous 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan, a full three inches longer than any other point guard at the Combine. He also added, rather uniquely, that he watches of film Kawhi Leonard playing defense. Most players don't mention watching film on different-position players; most players aren't 6-foot-6 point guards.

"(It's) obviously a more versatile league and playing small ball. And with me being able to guard multiple positions, a lot of teams are switching things like the pick and roll off ball screens, so me being able to switch and guard multiple positions can help an organization."

Gilgeous-Alexander's arrow is pointing way up. He appears to be teetering near Lottery pick status, though that could go one way or the other in private team workouts, especially if he's pitted against fellow top point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton. But if his rise at Kentucky is any indication, he'll only continue to improve his game, his stock and eventually his draft position.

The Celtics tied MJ's and the '96 Bulls' record for consecutive home playoff wins


The Celtics tied MJ's and the '96 Bulls' record for consecutive home playoff wins

The Boston Celtics have been the surprise of the 2018 NBA Playoffs, and after last night's Game 5 win against LeBron James and the Cavs are one game away from a trip to the NBA Finals.

They've done it with some of the most interesting splits in league history for a team that's advanced this far: they're 10-0 at home and  1-6 on the road.

The six road losses are something else, but with the convincing 96-83 victory over Cleveland, the Celtics tied a record held by the 1996 Bulls for the most consecutive postseason home wins in a season.

Boston earned home wins against the Bucks in Round 1 in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. They crushed the heavily favored Sixers in five games, earning home wins in Games 1, 2 and 5 (and their only road win in Game 3). They took the first two games of the series from the Cavaliers at home and then again in Game 5. If they can't close the series in Cleveland they'll have a chance to break the record Sunday in a potential Game 7. If they do close the series in Cleveland their next chance will be in Game 3 of the NBA Finals; Boston will be on the road regardless of whether Houston or Golden State comes out of the West.

Jordan's Bulls won 10 consecutive games during their historic 72-10 season. They swept the Heat in Round 1, winning at home by 17 and 31 points. In the second round they knocked off the Knicks in Games 1 and 2 at the United Center, winning by 7 and 11 points. After the Knicks earned a Game 3 win at Madison Square Garden the Bulls won the final two games of that series, including a 13-point win at home to clinch the series and a fifth straight home win.

The conference finals were no problem for the Bulls at home or on the road. They began their eventual sweep of Orlando with a 38-point shellacking in Game 1 at home. A five-point win in Game 2 gave them their seventh consecutive home win and they wouldn't be back at the United Center until Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

They smoked the Sonics by 17 in Game a 1 and held on for a four-point win in Game 2. Seattle took Games 4 and 5 at their place to avoid being swept, but when the series returned to Chicago the Bulls were back to their winning ways, earning a 12-point win - their 10th consecutive in the postseason - and their fourth NBA title.

Yes, the Bulls lost just three times (half as many as the Celtics) and actually won the title. Boston, of course, has plenty to do before they reach that status, and they'll do so with at least six losses. We're not comparing the two teams. Simply pointing out a record.

And if you're wondering, Steph Curry and the Warriors have simply been too good to get to 10 wins. Last year they swept all three rounds of the West playoffs, giving them six straight home wins. Then they only needed five games to beat the Cavaliers in the Finals, with three of those coming at home. So they went 9-0 at Oracle Arena before winning it all. They recently had their streak of 16 consecutive postseason home wins, regardless of year, snapped when the Rockets earned a Game 4 win on Tuesday.