Ex-Jazz step up for banged-up Bulls


Ex-Jazz step up for banged-up Bulls

To a man, the Bulls (34-9) use the phrase no excuses so often, it might as well be their motto, especially in this challenging campaign in which theyve been cursed with multiple injuries.

Saturday night they embodied it, easily handling the Jazz (19-21), 111-97, at the United Center, even without the services of starters Rip Hamilton (right-shoulder injury), Joakim Noah (sick) and All-Star Luol Deng (resting his left wrist, in which he previously tore ligaments), as well as key reserve C.J. Watson (sprained left ankle).

After both teams struggled with their shooting to begin the contest, the Jazz went to their veteran inside duo of Paul Millsap (26 points, seven rebounds) and Al Jefferson (16 points, eight rebounds), who each delivered on their early opportunities. For the Bulls, sharpshooter Kyle Korver (26 points, 6-for-11 three-point shooting, seven rebounds, six assists)starting in Dengs placebounced back from a tough ending to Thursdays loss, in which the normally-reliable marksman missed multiple open looks at the end of the game, to power the Bulls in the opening period.

Another ex-Jazz player, Carlos Boozer (27 points, 13-for-17 from the floor, eight rebounds), also got off to a quick start against his former team, continuing the trend of knocking down his mid-range jumper with accuracy, enabling the hosts to erase Utahs slim cushion. After a quarter of play, the score was tied at 22.

Behind Boozer maintaining his hot handbefore picking up his second foulthe Bulls jumped out to their own slight edge early in the second quarter, as the Jazz could muster little offense besides the aforementioned post tandem. One bench mainstay and two reserves not usually in the rotation, Bench Mob stalwart Taj Gibson and the seldom-used pair of John Lucas III and rookie Jimmy Butler, energized the home team and its crowd, with feisty, aggressive play that kept the Bulls ahead.

Thibodeau eventually reinserted Derrick Rose (24 points, 13 assists) into the contest and the reigning league MVP immediately made his impact felt as both a scorer and playmaker, following a relatively dormant initial stint of action. With Boozer keeping up his aggressiveness, the two regular starters staked the Bulls to a 48-41 halftime lead.

Playing a more up-tempo style after the intermission, the Bulls built a double-digit advantage on Roses back, as the dynamic Englewood native was nearly unstoppable in transition. Though Josh Howards (15 points) scoring added some diversity to the visitors offensive attack, the hosts stout defense ensured the gap between the two teams remained to the Bulls satisfaction.

Boozer also continued his strong play, as did the third former Jazzman on the Bulls, swingman Ronnie Brewer (11 points), who was his typically active self after a mostly silent first half. However, the story of the period was Rose and Boozer, who combinedoften in pick-and-roll scenarios, but also individually, with Boozers mid-range game and Roses penetrationto dominate their overmatched opposing defenders and propelling the Bulls to a comfortable 79-63 lead at the end of the third quarter.

In the final stanza, the Rose-Boozer partnership, along with able assistance from Korver, again buoyed the Bulls, who kept up their large margin of separation over the Jazz. The red-hot Korver erupted as the period waned on, knocking down a trio of long-range jumpers, which delighted the audience, who received free Big Macs when the Bulls hit triple digits on the third of his three-pointers.

The three-headed monster of Rose, Boozer and Korver continued to pick apart the visitors, until Thibodeau mercifully went to his shortened bench with the game in its final moments. The short-handed squad survived its prelude to consecutive games against much more high-profile guests to the Windy City, New York and Miami, intact.

Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?


Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?

According to a story by Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney, the Bulls may be looking for help in the form of one of the NBA’s better two-way players.

In the post, Deveny goes over the most salient points made by brand new New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin. This included the fact that Griffin stated that Pels head coach Alvin Gentry will be back and that Jrue Holiday is considered “a franchise building block”.

This could be a bit of gamesmanship from Griffin, hoping to drive up the asking price for an All-Star caliber player such as Holiday.

But Deveney suggests that New Orleans may indeed be serious about their efforts to keep building with Holiday on the roster. Deveney stated, “if the Pelicans don't trade Holiday, it will set up the team for an attempt at a fast turnaround rather than a long, slogging rebuild......It will also frustrate teams looking for a versatile point guard in his prime, hoping that Holiday would be on the block.”

Phoenix was mentioned as the “top contender” for Holiday’s services should he be made available, as the Suns are one of the few teams with an obvious hole at PG. Along with the Suns, Chicago and Orlando were the other teams listed as having interest in Holiday. The Magic completed a low-risk trade during the 2018-19 season that landed them 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, so they may not be inclined to give up solid assets in a deal.

As far as the Bulls are concerned, any serious inquires on Holiday are likely to come after the May 14 NBA Draft lottery.

Depending on where the Bulls lottery pick ends up, the Pelicans could be much more inclined to make a deal with the Chicago front office. The Pelicans ended the season tied with Memphis and Dallas for the 7th spot in the draft lottery odds, and their specific organizational goals could make moving up in the draft order worth losing a valuable player like Jrue Holiday. And for the Bulls, nabbing a player like Holiday helps build onto the positive team culture that Jim Boylen wants to establish and gives the Bulls a perfect guard to pair in the backcourt with Zach LaVine.

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.


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.


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.