Bulls

Bulls welcome new arrival Hamilton with open arms

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Bulls welcome new arrival Hamilton with open arms

As Bulls players got word of Richard Hamilton's acquisition after Wednesday's evening practice the message was clear: Rip is welcome with open arms in Chicago.

Tom Thibodeau was the lone holdout in post-practice media interviews, declining to talk about Hamilton -- who arrived at the Berto Center late Wednesday and officially signed his contract -- specifically, but the second-year head coach was willing to speak in hypothetical terms.

"If we sign a player and he's ready to go, yeah, just like everybody else, we'll evaluate him once he's here, we'll see what he can do and then we'll move forward," said the reigning NBA Coach of the Year. "Veterans pick up things a lot quicker. Guys that have been around, they understand the league, they understand the opponents. They have to learn your system, the terminology, their teammates, but things do move along a lot quicker with veterans.

"It's similar- - when you sign somebody now -- to making a trade. The thing that's different is you're coming out of the offseason and you don't know where guys are, conditioning-wise."

Hamilton's potential backcourt mate, Derrick Rose, was a bit more effusive about the organization obtaining the shooting guard, who will reportedly agree to a two-year, 10-million contract, with a team option for a partially-guaranteed third season.

"Rip, to me -- not only to me, but to the team -- I think he's a good fit, someone with experience is definitely going to help us. Him winning a championship, being in the Finals will definitely help this team. We're a young team. I've told a lot of people that with him, I'm going to have a lot more assists this year with him shooting the ball the way he does and the way he's in condition, he's going to be able to keep up," said the league MVP. "I think with him, it's definitely going to open up everybody's game. With me working on my three-point shooting -- me kicking it to him, him kicking back to me, me kicking it to the corner to Lu and him making shots -- I think it's going to open up everybody's game, where everybody's going to have open shots."

Luol Deng is possibly the player most familiar with his new teammate, as his brother Ajou Deng played on the University of Connecticut's 1999 NCAA title-winning team with Hamilton.

"He's going to help us out a lot. Offensively, just another option, but really, just his whole game," said Deng, who's known Hamilton since he was 14. "He's a guy who won it and went to the Finals, and the conference finals, so he's seen all of it.

"You add a player like Rip, who knows how to play and is going to help out a lot, it's definitely going to make us better. As soon as he comes, we're looking forward to it."

Deng believes the adjustment process for the veteran will be an easy transition.

"Rip is not a player who needs the ball in his hands. He moves without the ball really well and the way we play, that's going to fit us perfectly," he said. "He's really good at shooting the ball. With the way teams are playing us, just having him on the floor is going to spread the floor even more. It's going to be great for our bigs inside, for the rotation. He's a great shooter that's respected and the defense is going to pay attention to him.

"The way we play, with Derrick playmaking for everyone and everyone moving, it's going to be really easy for him and the sets that we have, it's going to be similar to the sets that we use with Kyle Korver, that he's been using for his whole career."

More importantly for Deng, a longtime friend -- and Central Division rival -- now becomes a teammate.

"Throughout the years, I used to go up to Detroit to watch the Pistons play," said Deng, recalling his pre-NBA days. "I got to know those guys before I was even in the NBA.

"For me, I'm really excited to see Rip here, not just basketball-wise, but he's helped me a lot with my game when I was younger, just giving me tips and stuff, so having him by my side is what I'm really happy about."

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

This is the first entry in our "8 for 38" series, where will be looking at eight different under-the-radar NBA prospects that the Bulls could snag with their No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Charles Bassey/ 6’11’’/ 275 lbs./ Freshman/ Western Kentucky  

Bassey is a a well-regarded five-star recruit from Nigeria, who played his college ball at Western Kentucky University. He is a physical force on the court but definitely is a raw prospect at this stage of his development.

Bassey came into the season as an assumed first round talent, however, his stock has dropped after his impressive freshman season still revealed holes in his game that will definitely be exploited at the NBA level. All that being said, he was quite the prospect at WKU.

Strengths:

In his lone season at WKU, Bassey averaged 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game on 62.7 percent shooting from the field. His impressive double double average was built on his insane dominance inside the paint.

He shot an astounding 77.4 percent on shots at the rim and that number is even higher on non-post up shots around the basket. Bassey has a rudimentary hook shot that he can hit over his left shoulder but his postgame isn’t the hub of his offense. He generates most of his points by finishing on pick-and-rolls and using his faceup game.

Bassey’s physicality leads to him setting hard screens, and when he doesn’t set a hard screen, he slips to the basket quickly where he takes advantage with his soft touch when looking to score. It is tough for help defenders to knock Bassey off his path when he is rolling to the rim, as his immense lower body strength allows him to displace smaller players.

When Bassey faces up from 15-feet and in, he uses the aforementioned soft touch to convert on 40.8 percent of his 2-PT jump shots per Hoop-Math.com. On top of that, he generally has the speed to blow by most big men.

Bassey’s biggest strength from day one in the NBA will be his motor. He clearly gets fired up for big matchups, as he showcased when he dominated Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, who ended up winning the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given by the Basketball Hall of Fame to the country’s best center. In their late December matchup, Bassey helped hold Happ to a very inefficient 20 points on 23 shots.

In that same game Bassey finished with 19 points (7/8 FG, 5/5 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. He has arguably had better games, but the all-around versatility showcased in the stat line above is outstanding.

Bassey has flashed the ability to make nice passes before:

Since Bassey’s NBA offense will be centered around pick-and-roll plays, further developing his decision making on the short-roll will be a boon to whatever team drafts him.

On defense, Bassey already shows the ability to be an asset in the right system. When he is allowed to play in a traditional defensive system that has the center dropping back in pick-and-roll coverage, he swallows up shots with his 7-foot-3 wingspan.

Weaknesses:

The gigantic weakness Bassey showcased this season was an inability to function as a switch defender. He was great when it comes to protecting the rim--he averaged 2.4 blocks per game-- but he was consistently beat off the dribble by guards.

Of course it is rare to find any center--let alone a young one--that has the legitimate ability to function at a high-level when it comes to switching on to smaller, faster players. But that is precisely what makes Bassey the exact type of center you can find easily.

This is why a player of his talent level can slip into the second round.

Another big issue for Bassey is hands, or more specifically, the inability to hold on to passes when diving to the rim. As mentioned above, pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop basketball is how Bassey will carve out a niche in the league. But he occasionally struggled to hold on to the ball on throws that many would not even consider to be “tough passes”.

In the above strengths section it is mentioned how Bassey has some untapped potential as a passer, but he will never cash in on that potential if simply possessing the ball is a difficulty for him. He isn’t as explosive as usual if there are multiple defenders crowding him and raking at the ball, which happens often.

Over 1,067 minutes Basey amassed 24 assists as compared to a whopping 97 turnovers.

Long term outlook:

I believe Bassey will have a long NBA career due to his finishing in the paint and ability to block shots.

Bassey ran roughshod over his mostly Conference USA opposition on the season.

His 62.7 percent shooting from the field and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes were a few of the many things that showed that Bassey is at least ready for the physicality of the NBA.

But to become much more than a solid journeyman center, Bassey will have to hone his perimeter jump shot to the point that he can become a solid 3-point threat. He shot 45 percent on a very limited 20 attempts from 3-point range and converted on 76.9 percent of his free throws, an enticing set of numbers that show the type of player he could be in the future.

Whether or not Robin Lopez stays, the Bulls will be short on center depth next season.  After Wendell Carter Jr. went down for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, we saw the Bulls play ultra-small lineups that got beat up on the glass often as Jim Boylen was still reluctant to play Felicio more than 15 minutes per game.

Adding a high-upside prospect like Bassey helps Boylen and co. avoid over-using lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center, which helps keep Markkanen fresh and theoretically improves the overall team defense. 

From one GOAT to another: "Greatest comeback I've ever seen"

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NBC Sports Chicago

From one GOAT to another: "Greatest comeback I've ever seen"

 

Michael Jordan is no stranger to amazing comebacks.

The man widely agreed upon to be the greatest player of all time, won six NBA Championships, with three of them coming after a full season sabbatical in which he played minor league baseball with the White Sox affiliate. And of course, MJ had his even later comeback with the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003, in which the year 40-year old Jordan averaged 21.2 PPG over two seasons to close out his career.

That is why Jordan’s effusive praise of Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters victory should not be taken lightly in the greater context of sports history.

In an article written by The Athletic’s David Aldridge, Jordan talks about how he holds Woods’ 2019 Masters win in extremely high regard, calling it “the greatest comeback I've ever seen."

Jordan, a famously avid golfer himself and a friend of Woods, stated, “I’ve been a fan for I don’t know how long.....I never thought he’d get back physically.....He didn’t think he’d get back physically.”

Major success had escaped Woods--who only had one victory in 2018--due to a litany of back injuries and subsequent surgeries.

With Woods having a major victory under his belt for the 2019 season, he certainly has momentum rolling in his favor. That momentum could carry Woods to another major run of PGA Tour success, and MJ agreed that Woods’ belief in himself was perhaps the biggest factor in his 2019 Masters win.

“No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He's probably the only person who believed he could get back.”