Central division offseason moves


Central division offseason moves

The Chicago Bulls had a busy, albeit inexpensive off-season, re-tooling their back court with veterans Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson, declining an offer sheet from Houston on Omer Asik and replacing Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver With Marco Belinelli and Vladimir Radmanovic.
And while the offseason isn't quite over, the Bulls weren't the only team in the Central division making moves.
Cleveland Cavaliers
Additions: Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Kevin Jones, Luke Harangody, Jon Leuer, Kelenna Azubuike, C.J. Miles
Subtractions: Antwan Jamison, Anthony Parker, Manny Harris, Semih Erden
Losing Antwan Jamison, the team's second leading scorer from a year ago, will hurt the Cavaliers in the short-run, but with the additions of Waiters (No. 4) and Zeller (No. 17) in June's draft, the future is bright in Cleveland.
Along with will-be sophomores Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers now have a handful of young players who could be destined for the playoffs in a few seasons. How well the supporting cast performs could determine the team's ceiling, but pending an All Star-worthy season from Irving, the Cavaliers will be picking in the lottery for the third straight year.

Detroit Pistons
Additions: Andre Drummond, Corey Maggette, Khris Middleton, Kim English, Vyacheslav Kravtsov, Kyle Singler
Subtractions: Ben Gordon
The biggest move the Pistons made this offseason was parting with Gordon for Maggette in a salary cap-related transaction. Drummond, who may have as much upside as any rookie not named Anthony Davis, gives Detroit the center they coveted to play alongside true power forward Greg Monroe.
Draft picks Middleton and English, along with 2011 draft pick Singler (who played in Spain last year) will improve a young back court, but the Pistons are still a year or two (and a player or two) from potentially contending in the Central division.
Indiana Pacers
Additions: Roy Hibbert, George Hill, D.J. Augstin, Gerald Green, Ian Mihinmi, Miles Plumlee, Orlando Johnson
Subtractions: Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Leandro Barbosa, Louis Admunson
The Pacers showed this offseason they are willing to spend to stay in the top half of the Eastern Conference, matching an offer sheet from Portland on center Roy Hibbert and re-signing point guard George Hill.
Augustin may be an upgrade from Collison, who fell out of favor after Hill took over the starting role. Mahinmi will be nice insurance behind Hibbert, while Green and Johnson, a second round draft pick, will help replace bench scoring lost in Jones and Barbosa.
Milwaukee Bucks
Additions: Ersan Ilyosova, Joel Pryzbilla, Samuel Dalembert, John Henson, Doron Lamb
Subtractions: Shaun Livingston, Kwame Brown, Jon Leuer, Jon Brockman
The Bucks beefed up in the front court this offseason after trading for back court talent at the trade deadline last year.
After sending center Andrew Bogut to Golden State in exchange for Monta Ellis and Epke Udoh, the Bucks had a major hole at the center position that Udoh and Drew Gooden tried to fill. So it was no surprise that the team addressed the position in free agency, trading for Dalembert and signing Pryzbilla.
Drafting Henson with Gooden, Udoh, Larry Sanders and re-signed Ersan Ilyosova already on board creates a logjam in the front court, but a "best player available" approach was the safest route for the Bucks to take.

Kevin Durant chimes in on Zach LaVine's comments on mid-range shooting

Kevin Durant chimes in on Zach LaVine's comments on mid-range shooting

There is much discussion in the basketball community surrounding the value of the midrange shot following a Sun-Times article from Joe Cowley that discussed the Bulls analytics department wanting Zach LaVine to limit his mid-range attempts, and a segment on ESPN's The Jump, discussing the same topic. On Tuesday morning Matt Moore of the Action Network chimed in, offering up the statistics that clearly support the notion that LaVine should be shooting many, many more 3-pointers than 2s. 

While Moore's points were solid and backed up by the numbers, NBA superstar Kevin Durant offered up his opinion from a player's perspective. Durant backed up LaVine's quote of "sometimes there's nothing better than putting the ball in your best playmaker's hands and letting him get the shot he needs rather than the one you want." KD commented that he has seen too many players pass up wide-open midrange shots to force up 3-pointers or contested shots at the rim, with analytics having an influence on the shots that players take, referring the mid-range as "forbidden."

Durant went on to comment and respond to users' comments on the situation. In one response Durant agrees with a user who states that he is teaching his son to work on his mid-range game first and shoot 3-pointers once he is strong enough, stating "that's how I was taught."

Moore had some fun with the response from Durant, stating that when he initially tweeted about the topic, his intentions were not to get into a debate on the value of mid-range shots with an active NBA player who is already among the all-time greats. 

 Moore's original sentiment agrees with what the Bulls' analytics department is trying to accomplish. LaVine has always been a good mid-range shooter but last year alone he shot 35.8% on mid-range shots and 37.4% on 3-point attempts.

It is obvious that players still need to have to players who can hit mid-range attempts, as some of the best teams in the league—including recent NBA champions Toronto and Golden State, who finished second in the league in percentage of points coming from mid-range shots—have relied on players who can generate solid mid-range attempts in high-leverage moments. But Durant's point is important to note too.

Durant stated that you have to be "confident to make any shot" but countered that whatever you work on the most is what you will be best at. He doubled down on that point, saying most primary scoring options in the NBA shouldn't worry about analytics and should play off of feel, rather than numbers. 

Ultimately, there has to be a balance.

As we have seen through the preseason, taking fewer shots from the mid-range has certainly appeared to benefit LaVine's game, as he is currently fourth in the league in preseason scoring, averaging 23.3 points per game through three contests. But taking what the defense gives you, especially when you are as confident of a player as Durant or LaVine, still needs to be emphasized. 

In what should be a huge season for LaVine, he will again have a high-usage rate as he looks to lead the Bulls to a bounce-back season and mid-range shots, while limited, will still be a part of his shot profile.

So as far as Chicago Bulls fans should be concerned, this is a win-win. LaVine has clearly taken to heart was the Bulls' analytics department is preaching by shooting fewer mid-rangers but he still understands that that shot is going to be necessary for certain moments. So when LaVine is open from mid-range in 2019-20, the Bulls coaching staff will likely be saying the same thing Durant did on Tuesday morning, "Shoot em Zach."

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Watch Lauri Markkanen and Cristiano Felício brave a haunted house

USA Today

Watch Lauri Markkanen and Cristiano Felício brave a haunted house

Lauri Markkanen is 7-feet tall.  Cristiano Felício is 6-feet-10. It’s safe to say they’re big guys, which would lead you to believe they wouldn’t be scared by much.

In a preseason outing to 13th Floor Haunted House in Chicago, Lauri and Felício showed that height doesn’t mean you’re immune to spooks (especially when Benny the Bull is let loose in the haunted house control room).  

Watch them try to maneuver their tall frames through cobwebs and zombies in the video posted to the Bulls’ Twitter here.

Viewers beware, ghastly ghouls and frightened NBA stars await you.

Despite all the screaming, the Bulls players sounded like they had a fun night. Lauri even responded to video on Twitter saying that while maybe he got scared a little, he ultimately had a good time.

Hey, if they can face-off against monsters and chainsaw mascot maniacs, taking on the other teams in NBA won’t seem so bad!

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