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Chicago native Anthony Davis holds his own in U.S. opener

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Chicago native Anthony Davis holds his own in U.S. opener

LAS VEGAS No, it isnt the same as hometown hero and Bulls point guard Derrick Rose playing in the Olympics. But since the All-Star and former league MVP cant compete due to his torn ACL, No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis member of the rival Miami Heat Dwayne Wade, another Windy City resident, will also miss out on the experience, due to his own recent knee surgery is as close as Chicago will get to a mens basketball player representing the city in London.
Of course, its not set in stone yet, but now that Clippers All-Star power forward Blake Griffins spot is reportedly jeopardized due to a torn meniscus suffered in Wednesdays scrimmage according to reports, the recent recipient of a five-year, 95-million maximum contract will miss the Olympics, but be ready for Clippers training camp Davis, the lone big-man alternate that was left off the original Team USA roster, looks to be London-bound. His performance in Thursdays Team USA exhibition debut didnt hurt his chances either.
After not practicing with the national team Davis practiced Tuesday with the Select Team; his own ankle injury initially appeared to take him out of the running the former Kentucky All-American sat for the first three periods of the contest against the Dominican Republic, a team guided by his college coach, John Calipari. It seemed as if he wouldnt see any action, then he started the fourth quarter and showed the potential that made observers consider him the lone franchise-changing player in the draft.
I was telling him he doesnt get a summer league. In actuality, this is his first NBA game. Hes such a great kid. Were having fun over there with him, but I told him, at the same time, go out there and play hard, show everyone you belong to be here and that youre not here just because youre the No. 1 pick, and he was great and he did a great job, said Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul, whose teammate is the injured Griffin. Ironically, Paul began his career in New Orleans, where Davis will play for the Hornets.
He was hurt during training camp, but we all watched him play in college, just like everyone else. Hes got a lot to learn, but what better team to be on than this one to learn how to play, Paul added.
Upon checking in, Davis looked to have a case of the jitters, but eventually found his groove and got on the board by showing off the ball skills a steal, then pushing the ball the length of the court and getting fouled on a layup attempt he retained from his days at Chicagos Perspectives Charter School. After it looked it looked like he would exit the game midway through the stanza, he was inserted back into the contest alongside center Tyson Chandler and power forward Kevin Love, so he was essentially playing on the wing.
Then, he put his package of skills on display, hitting a left-handed jump hook in the paint, snagging an offensive rebound and finishing a put-back layup and lastly, converting a four-point play after getting knocked down in the process of making a three-pointer, getting a rise out of both the crowd and his superstar teammates. And while he wasnt completely flawless, he showed that his hype was justified. Sure, he wasnt Team USAs go-to guy the Hornets hope hell develop into in New Orleans, but the flashes of brilliance show that the 19-year-old is ready for the big time, just a few years removed from being a complete unknown.
Great experience. Guys told me just relax and breathe. Have fun, its just a basketball game. I started getting a feel for things, said Davis, who arrived earlier Thursday afternoon after being informed that morning that his services were needed. Just play basketball. I saw the ball go in for the first time and I felt good.
Blakes still on the team. Im just filling in until he gets healthy, wait for Blake to get healthy. Im not on the team; Im still an alternate. I hope Blake gets a speedy recovery, make sure everythings fine with him and hope its all fine, continued the South Sider. Im still filling in until they tell me differentI just filled Blakes spot for tonightIm not sure. Nobodys given me any indication of what Im doing, so hopefully I find out tonight.
Carmelo told me just take a deep breath and its just like college. Youre out here just playing ball. If you really love this game, youre going to be nervous, but when you step on the floor, but youre supposed to have fun. If you love this game like you say you love it, just go play ball and thats what I ended up doing. And it was good to beat Coach Cal.
Chimed in Paul: He can definitely contribute. He hadnt practiced with us, so he came to pre-game meal and just came over here and just came over here, and he came out here with NBA vets, so Id say thats pretty good for the rook.
Again, USA Basketball wouldnt commit to Davis being on the teamGriffin will get a second opinion on his knee injurybut its evident that if he is added to the squad, hell hold his own and not just be the 2012 version of Christian Laettner from the original Dream Team.
I was excited to finally get the opportunity to play, but its still kind of upsetting that Blake went down. Im just trying to make sure that hes healthy, make sure everything goes well, said Davis.
I feel like I learned something today, he added. "KD, LeBron, Melo, Russ, Kobe, all of them clapping, cheering for me and Im supposed to be cheering for these guys. Theyre cheering for me.
I was just trying to enjoy it all.

Wendell Carter Jr. is now 6 feet, 9 inches---and other Bulls' height adjustments

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USA Today

Wendell Carter Jr. is now 6 feet, 9 inches---and other Bulls' height adjustments

With player heights long a topic of question and debate, the NBA informed teams that all players must be measured by a team physician this training camp.

It’s all part of the league’s push towards transparency, which includes detailed reports on officiating and other initiatives.

So who grew and who shrank among the Bulls?

Wendell Carter Jr. dropped from 6 feet, 10 inches to 6-foot-9, which will do nothing to change the narrative that he's an undersized big man. Kris Dunn moved from 6-4 to 6-3. Daniel Gafford isn’t 6-11, as first advertised when drafted, but 6-10. And Denzel Valentine is no longer 6-6 but 6-4.

The Bulls even pushed down Coby White’s flamboyant hairstyle and discovered he’s 6-4, not 6-5.

As for those who grew, well, Zach LaVine’s All-Star candidacy now features him as a 6-6 guard, not 6-5. New big man Luke Kornet is really big; he’s 7-2, not 7-1. And Shaq Harrison somehow grew from 6-4 to 6-7.

That’s the official Bulls’ roster. 

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Insider K.C. Johnson calls Bulls the 'sexy pick' to make the postseason but tempers expectations

Insider K.C. Johnson calls Bulls the 'sexy pick' to make the postseason but tempers expectations

On the 2019 NBA Preview Show, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down what it would truly take for the Bulls to make the jump into playoff contention following a particularly tough 22-win season. 

Johnson, like most of the national NBA landscape, is optimistic about the prospects of the 2019-20 Bulls. He stated that it is "widely accepted that they had a pretty strong offseason," but cautioned us against simply penciling in the Bulls for a playoff spot this season. 

Despite the additions of savvy veterans like Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young, the Bulls still enter the 2019-20 NBA regular season as the second-youngest team in the NBA, as good of a reason as any to temper expectations.

That being said, the Bulls, from a simple talent standpoint, are much better than last year's squad that featured a ton of injuries and many Windy City Bulls/NBA G League call-ups. 

With a new coaching staff around head coach Jim Boylen and a new offensive philosophy, things will be very different in Chicago this season.

But as Johnson stated in Tuesday's 2019 NBA Preview Show, for the Bulls to achieve their ultimate goal of reaching the postseason, "basically, all of those [free agent] additions need to hit.

"You need to see Tomas Satoransky prove that he can be a full-time starter at that point guard position, you need to see Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen take a step towards stardom, you need to see Otto Porter Jr. stay healthy enough to contribute at that small forward position and you need to see Wendell Carter Jr. hit the two-way potential that the organization believes he has... and Coby White... needs to bring you something off the bench."

If that sounds like a lot, that's because it is and it appropriately represents the amount of work needed to make the leap from 22-wins to a playoff spot. 

What the Bulls have working on their side as of now is that everything we have seen and heard from the team throughout preseason has indicated that there is good shot that every one of the things K.C. Johnson named happens. 

Carter was limited to just 44 games due to injury last season and while he has looked rusty in the preseason, he has also had some explosive finishes and shown his trademark appetite for help defense and blocked shots. Carter blocked 2.0 shots per game over two preseason games but was abysmal in terms of his offensive efficiency (26.7% from the field), something to keep an eye on throughout the first week of regular-season games. 

Boylen recently made comments about managing Porter's workload, so clearly keeping Porter healthy amid the backdrop of the Bulls questionable wing depth is already something the organization has discussed and seems to have a concrete plan for. 

Satoransky has shown that he can comfortably handle the starting duties at the one as Johnson suggested, averaging 7.5 points, 4.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game while being lights-out from 3-point range (80% on 1.2 attempts per game). And while Sato represents the steady hand, Coby White represents the true "boom-or-bust" option in the backcourt, capable of going off for 25+ points or fading into the background while playing more of an off-ball role. 

The factor that Johnson mentioned that will have the greatest impact on the 2019-20 Bulls season is if Markkanen and LaVine can take a step towards superstardom.

LaVine looks clearly poised to do so, finishing the preseason third in the league in scoring at 23.2 points per game on 59.3/56.0/ 83.3 shooting splits. Markkanen, on the other hand, struggled to find his shot and despite being one of the top-three scoring options on the team, struggled to get his scoring average just over 11.0 points per game (11.2). 

It is only preseason action, so all results are to be taken with a grain of salt. But as we gear up for the start of the Bulls games that count on Wednesday, it is clear that the national outlook on the Bulls is much rosier than it has been in the past.

Johnson stated that the Bulls are indeed shaping up as a "sexy pick" to make the playoffs and that alone is a monumental step in the right direction as the franchise looks to put last season's disappointment further in the rearview mirror. 

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