In the latest NBA 2K19 update, Wendell Carter, Antonio Blakeney and Zach LaVine and former Bulls Derrick Rose received significant boosts in their overall rating.
Rose was the biggest riser throughout the entire game this week, moving up +5 points to an 80 overall. He has shown the explosiveness he was known for in the past—to some degree—and has coupled that with a much improved jumps hot.
Chicago rookies Carter and Blakeney saw the biggest improvement among Bulls players, both getting a +3 bump in their rating.
Blakeney is now a 72 overall and Carter now sits at a 79 overall, making the Duke product one of the best rookies in NBA 2K19. Blakeney has always been a dynamite scorer but he is now starting to improve his efficiency, making him a dependable rotation player. And Carter has been incredibly steady for the Bulls—specifically on defense—to the point where he can undoubtedly be called the team's best defender (until Kris Dunn's return).
LaVine recently had a ratings boost to get him up to an 84 overall, but since that boost he had perhaps his best game as a pro, notching a career-high 41 points in an overtime win against the Knicks.
Bulls in 60: Win in 2OT snaps four-game losing streak pic.twitter.com/B1t180zfWd— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 6, 2018
With the current +2 boost for LaVine his new rating is 86 overall. With the leap, NBA 2K19 now has LaVine firmly ranked as one of the top 10 shooting guards in the NBA, behind Donovan Mitchell and slightly ahead of Bucks guard Khris Middleton.
The Bulls signed guard Shaquille Harrison to provide depth to a rotation that is missing it’s best perimeter defender in Kris Dunn and is lacking playmaking/ball-handling when Zach LaVine gets a rest. So far the results have been positive. Though Harrison hasn’t shown a tremendous amount of promise in terms of being a playmaker, he provides a solid option in the backcourt due to his defensive fundamentals.
Harrison racks up a lot of steals but it is more impressive due to the fact that he is not gambling for steals too often (i.e. getting out of position to try to strip a player you aren’t guarding). He picks up a decent amount of his steals by “digging”, which is a basketball term for applying pressure with a second player without making it a true double-team.
Simple “stunting” (jumping towards an offensive player to mimic pressure) or digging would help the Bulls prevent many of the easy drives to the rim they give up.
A big part of successful NBA defense is making the opposition think you are committing to one thing before executing something else. And the Bulls defense does little to keep the opposition on their toes.
The aggressiveness of Harrison in on- or off-ball defense has serious potential to be contagious to the Chicago roster, and even more so once Dunn returns. We don’t know if we will ever see Hoiberg trot out the Dunn-Harrison pairing or if that duo could do enough to spur on a change--over a big sample size-- in the overall team defense, but the basketball world has definitely started to pick up on his 110 percent effort on the struggling Bulls:
i guess about the only takeaway from this game has been Shaq Harrison playing hard?— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) November 15, 2018
Shaq Harrison has two first half steals tonight. He's had at least two steals in each of his 3 games since joining the rotation.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) November 15, 2018
Shaq Harrison continues to look good on the defensive end with active plays. He's always moving. Strips Hayward and goes coast-to-coast for 2.— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 15, 2018
I think Shaq Harrison might be the best healthy point guard on this roster. He needs to play more.— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) November 15, 2018
The funniest thing is this is true of multiple Shaq Harrison teams this season. https://t.co/aApOwAa3Cy— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) November 15, 2018
Even when Harrison does things that coaches traditionally don’t like—such as the ol’ ‘Rondo/CP3 reach around swipe’—he makes it work out:
We've blocked out the score so you can still enjoy this highlight pic.twitter.com/SLNv22jrOX— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 15, 2018
In the above clip he was going over the screen on Celtics guard Brad Wanamaker--the correct play since Wanamaker is a solid shooter--and prevents Felicio from having to contain the guard for too long. A common thing you see from NBA guards in the pick-and-roll is the “snake dribble” that gets them into the paint. Harrison times up this move perfectly, knockling the ball loose as soon as Wanamaker transfers his dribble from his right to left hand.
Part of the reason that Harrison’s gamble in the above play was so great is that fouling can be a good thing, so even if he had fouled Wanamaker, that would’ve been a preferable outcome when compared to Felicio vs a guard or Cam Payne coming over in help defense to contest the 6-foot 8 Daniel Theis.
Harrison’s locked-in defense will certainly be needed as the Bulls head into a three-game slate that features matchups against the Bucks, Raptors and Harrison's former team, the Suns. All three teams have excellent wing scorers in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard and Devin Booker, and rookie Chandler Hutchison and Jabari Parker can’t be depended on to slow down those players by themselves.
Per Basketball-Reference, the 2018-19 season represents the first time that Harrison has played small forward in his NBA career (6 percent of the time). It will be interesting to see how Hoiberg deploys Harrison against two of the best three offenses in the league, his newfound versatility and consistent effort level should afford him a long-term on the Bulls.