Bulls

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.

Bulls need to develop a secondary playmaker

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USA TODAY

Bulls need to develop a secondary playmaker

These are the career points per 36 minutes numbers for the three players who figure to get majority of the field goal attempts on the 2018-19 Bulls:

Zach LaVine: 17.6 
Lauri Markkanen: 18.4 
Jabari Parker: 17.9

There is no debating that this current Bulls roster has multiple players who can flat-out put the ball in the basket. The the biggest questions come into play when you try to imagine how these players will keep each other involved, assuming they take the lion's share of the field goal attempts.

Kris Dunn finished just outside the top 10 in the league in assist percentage (33.3 percent), a higer mark than Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry or Stephen Curry. And though he is a talented passer, what this figure really shows is that the Bulls severely lack a secondary playmaker to take pressure off of Dunn to create shots for others.

Per Ben Falk's site Cleaning The Glass, Markkanen was not able to create for others with his offense, but shockingly, Parker and LaVine did an OK job in the play-making department, considering their reputation as shoot-first players.

Assist rate is a great way to see how much a player is distributing when they are on the floor. And usage rate is perhaps the best way to get an idea of how many possessions a player uses on offense. So naturally, assist to usage ratio is one of the best tools to use to assess a player's ability and willingness to create opportunities for others on offense. What the statistic boils down to is: how often did a player get an assist given how much they had the ball. 

Parker finished last season in the 67th percentile in assist to usage ratio, and LaVine finished in the 58th percentile. These numbers show that both players are capable passers and clearly have the potential to be great setup men.

This is crucial because Markkanen’s development will heavily depend on if he can expand his scoring repertoire, something that looks increasingly difficult with Parker and LaVine, who have averaged a combined 29.5 field goal attempts per 36 minutes for their careers. 

Many times throughout the offseason you likely heard about how the Bulls have many mouths to feed in the locker room. But this doesn’t pertain to just shots, ball-control will be a major concern as well. With incumbent point guard Kris Dunn still a relatively weak floor-spacer (32 percent from 3-point range last season), Fred Hoiberg will need to get creative with his rotations to keep the offense running efficiently. Backup point guard Cam Payne shot 38 percent from the 3-point line last season, and when inserting him into the game for Dunn, Parker would flourish as a point-forward (possibly) surrounded by four competent shooters. Parker could derail the Bulls offense because he is not an elite 3-point shooter, but that issue is mitigated when you put the ball in his hands to let him create.


Parker was fourth in the pecking order in Milwaukee last season, and so it comes as no surprise that his free throw attempts, points and field goal percentage dropped from his 2017 numbers. If you look at the 2017 season (Parker’s breakout season) you see that Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo pretty much split the No. 1 options duties on offense. They each took about 16 shots apiece and combined for 8.2 assists per game. This is a best case scenario for the Parker-LaVine wing duo. 


LaVine has the benefit of coming into the league as a point guard, and he has still retained the ability to make the right pass when it presents itself. And last season, he had an impressive turnover percentage that was just below 10 percent. However, the reason for this was that he averaged 4.34 seconds per touch, a very long time in an NBA possession, usually looking to score and nothing else. It’s easy to avoid turnovers when you aren’t looking to pass.


LaVine usually makes the obvious play if it is one pass away, but he does not move the ball around to prevent the offense from becoming stagnant.


Both LaVine and Parker will have their struggles on defense (understatement of the year), but much more important to their development is understanding that if you give the ball up on offense, it will find its way back to you. This is perhaps the only way a Bulls team that ranked 28th last season in offensive rating, can make a big enough leap in scoring efficiency to make their way back to the postseason. 
 

Making of a Chicago legend: A look back at Jabari Parker's decorated Simeon career

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AP

Making of a Chicago legend: A look back at Jabari Parker's decorated Simeon career

From the moment Jabari Parker started his local basketball career, he's been a special talent who has produced at every level. Parker's signing with the Chicago Bulls this offseason brings back a lot of memories of his decorated four-year high school career at Simeon.

For Bulls fans who didn't follow Parker before Duke or the NBA, here's some of the notable moments from four years in the Public League.

As a freshman with the Wolverines, Parker was seen as one of three big incoming freshman in the area for the Class of 2013, along with forward Alex Foster and center Tommy Hamilton. Although all three players had the size and skill level to be varsity contributors, it was Parker who was special from his debut game.

Coming off the bench for a top-5 Simeon team against a top-10 Thornton team at Chicago State, Parker had 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting with two 3-pointers as the Wolverines went on to win in his first game in high school. Eventually becoming the first Wolverine freshman to start on varsity, Parker piled up high-major scholarship offers and national acclaim, as he was the team's second-leading scorer behind Brandon Spearman.

But Parker was hurt on the eve of the IHSA Class 4A state championship weekend and was on the bench injured as Simeon went on to surprisingly win the state title after some late-season slip-ups. Parker contributed heavily to Simeon winning the state title during his first season, however, as he was leading scorer in six games during that season.

During his sophomore season, Parker blossomed from a prospect into a full-blown star as Simeon once again captured a state title. By this point in his career, Parker was a consensus top-5 national high school prospect in his class as he regularly led a loaded Simeon team in scoring. Parker eventually averaged 15.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as he won ESPN High School 2011 Sophomore of the Year national honors, while also Simeon won a title at the prestigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament.

The summer of 2011 saw Parker become a contender for No. 1 in his class -- and regardless of class at the high school level -- as he dominated the summer circuit against his peers and older players.

Making the 2011 USA Basketball U16 team, Parker won MVP honors at the FIBA Americas U16 Tournament as the USA team captured a gold medal. Parker also had big performances at the Kevin Durant and LeBron James Skill Academies before winning the MVP at the Nike Global Challenge in August against mostly older players.

Before entering his junior season at Simeon, some national scouts believed Parker was the best prospect in either the junior or senior national classes. With Parker garnering so many accomplishments as an underclassman, he had a huge reputation already as Simeon was an established national powerhouse.

Parker helped the Wolverines capture a third straight state title, a city title and another title at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, as they went 33-1. Simeon didn't lose to an Illinois opponent Parker's junior year (they only lost to nationally ranked Findlay Prep) with Parker setting a school record of 40 points in only 21 minutes against Perspectives on Dec. 19. For his junior season, Parker put up 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds per game as he became the first non-senior to win Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors.

Gatorade also declared Parker the national boys basketball Player of the Year for that high school season as he became only the fourth non-senior to win that award. Sports Illustrated put Parker on its cover and proclaimed him as the best high school basketball player since LeBron James.

Facing an enormous amount of pressure during his senior year, Simeon played a national schedule and went 30-3, winning a fourth consecutive IHSA state title with Parker as he put up 18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

Becoming the only player besides Sergio McClain to start on four straight IHSA state title teams, Parker secured back-to-back Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors while also making the McDonald's All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Hoop Summit. Parker played all over the country during his senior season, with nationally-televised games and packed crowds filled with fans.

Reclassifications and the emergence of other contenders, coupled with Parker's foot injury before his senior season, dropped Parker below the No. 1 ranking to end his high school career. But he still finished as a consensus top-5 prospect in the class who eventually rose to the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft in 2014.

Now that Parker has signed with the Bulls, he has a chance to resurrect his career in Chicago, the place where he had his most basketball success.