Bulls

Gibson proud to rep Bulls in All-Star festivities

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Gibson proud to rep Bulls in All-Star festivities

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011Posted: 7:20 PM Updated: 10:30 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Going to Los Angeles for All-Star weekend has a special significance for Bulls big man Taj Gibson. Gibson, who participated in Friday nights T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and will take part in Saturdays Haier Shooting Stars competition, attended the University of Southern California for three years and also finished high school in California, at Stoneridge Prep.

Thats my second home. Ive been out there half of my life, Gibson told CSNChicago.com after Thursday nights Bulls win over the league-leading San Antonio Spurs. Its a wonderful feeling to go back and see old friends and family.

Im just looking forward to getting out there and getting some good food, continued the Brooklyn, N.Y., native, who contributed six points, six rebounds and two blocked shots off the bench in Thursday nights victory. Some Roscoes Chicken and Waffles a landmark L.A. restaurant. Theres nothing like that.

Home cooking aside, Gibson is pleased to be in the rookie-sophomore game for the second straight season, albeit under different circumstances. A starter for 70 regular-season games and Chicagos first-round playoff series last season as a member of the NBAs all-rookie first team, Gibson also began this season as the Bulls starting power forward, but it was knowingly temporary with offseason free-agent acquisition out at the beginning of the season. Gibsons numbers initially dipped when he first adjusted to his reserve role and hes been hit with the injury bug, but he seems to have found his groove coming off the bench as of late and is grateful coaches around the league appreciate his blue-collar game, regardless of his decreased playing time.

It means a lot, just trying to prove myself in this league by playing hard and trying to get better and improve, Gibson told CSNChicago.com. Even with the lack of minutes Ive been playing this year, the coaches still saw how hard I played, how good I can be and Im honored.

Gibson was reunited with former USC teammate DeMar DeRozan in the game, but the former Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year also took notice of two of his opponents from Thursdays game who will also participate in the event, which he expects to be interesting to see.

Ive seen Spurs rookie sharpshooter Gary Neal light it up Thursday night, when he scored 16 points off the bench against the Bulls and of course, Spurs second-year starting power forward DeJuan Blair, you know what hes done all year, Gibson said.

The second-year forward finished the rookie-sophomore game with eight points, two rebounds, a block and a steal in 18 minutes.

As for the Shooting Stars event, while Gibson is a confident mid-range shooter, hes not exactly the second coming of former Bulls marksman Steve Kerr. Yet, Saturday evening, hell team up with the ex-Bulls guard and Chicago Sky sharpshooter Catherine Kraayveld to represent the Windy City.

I see it all the time, but I never thought Id play in it and Im honored that theyd even ask me to be a part of that, especially with Steve Kerr and representing Chicago, so Im looking forward to it, said Gibson, whose November halfcourt buzzer-beater at Dallas was his first three-pointermade or attemptedat either the professional or college level. Im going to try to display his range. Im going to go for the halfcourt shot. Im going to go for mostly everything I can.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls Talk Podcast: How will the Bulls fill their PG need? Options in draft and free agency

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: How will the Bulls fill their PG need? Options in draft and free agency

Mark Schanowski, Mark Strotman and Kendall Gill discuss myriad topics, including where Otto Porter Jr.’s role stands heading into next season, how the Bulls may improve at the point guard position this summer and who they could potentially target in the NBA Draft.

4:15 – Analyzing where Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter can improve next season

11:40 – Potential Bulls’ free agent PG targets

16:36 – Draft analysis and Darius Garland’s and Coby White’s potential fit in Chicago

23:04 Other targets for the Bulls in the first round such as Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver

25:34 – Damian Lillard/NBA Playoffs discussion

 

 

Season in Review: Zach LaVine shows promise in Year 1 of new deal

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USA TODAY

Season in Review: Zach LaVine shows promise in Year 1 of new deal

Over the next month we'll be recapping each of the Bulls' individual 2018-19 regular seasons.

Previous reviews: Lauri Markkanen | Shaq Harrison | Ryan Arcidiacono | Otto Porter  | Wayne Selden

Preseason expectations: The Bulls’ decision to immediately match the $78 miller offer sheet the Kings gave Zach LaVine was telling. Despite an ugly first season in Chicago, LaVine clearly had the trust and commitment from the Bulls front office to be the healthy player they had hoped he could become. Armed with that $78 million contract and the 47th highest annual salary, expectations were set high for the 23-year-old.

He also set them for himself, noting at Media Day that the upcoming season would be different because it was his first healthy offseason in years. That mattered, and there was optimism that LaVine could become the kind of scorer he was prior to tearing his ACL. The potential to form a 1-2 punch with Lauri Markkannen and set into motion the next chapter of the rebuild was a necessity for a Bulls team without much talent around them on the offensive end.

What went right: He proved his worth. We’ll get to some of his shortcomings later, but it’s impossible to deny that LaVine was worth every penny in Year 1 of his new contract. He was 18th in the NBA in scoring – 16 of the 17 ahead of him were All-Stars – and posted career-bests across the board. He was critical in the first six weeks of the season while the Bulls were without Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis. LaVine was the constant in the first half of the season, took on an enormous usage burden, and kept the Bulls afloat.

LaVine is never going to be a pass-first option, and the notion of him running the point at any time for the Bulls isn’t a great one, but he did distribute fairly well. Of note, his pick-and-roll game with Wendell Carter and pick-and-pop action with Lauri Markkanen were both beneficial plays. LaVine looked comfortable in that action and it will add another element to his game once the Bulls find a point guard to run the offense. Having ball handlers and initiators on the wing is a bonus, and it looks like the Bulls have a capable one in LaVine.

We’ll also add that his free throws were a nice touch. LaVine averaged 13.6 drives per game, 12th in the NBA among qualified players and fourth among non-point guards. It resulted in 3.2 free throw attempts per game, trailing only James Harden among all players with at least 13 drives per game. LaVine averaged 6.0 free throw attempts per game, a career-best, and had a knack for finding open windows that allowed him to get to the basket. He should only improve in that category as the Bulls add pieces around him to give him more space to work.

What went wrong: LaVine still hasn’t done much to improve his defense. LaVine’s DRPM was 194th among 227 guards, and if advanced numbers aren’t your thing then the eye test proved as much. He still has trouble staying with defenders away from the ball, he doesn’t provide much in the way of help defense and at times he still looks uninterested. Granted, he was asked to do so much for the Bulls offense that he’s allowed to take some plays off on the other end, but he spoke a big game about being able to improve as a defender and we didn’t really see it.

It wouldn’t be as big an issue on another team, but the Bulls are desperate for defensive help. They ranked 28th in efficiency for a second straight season, and for as much firepower as they’ve racked up on offense, the wins won’t come until the defense improves. It’s not on LaVine to be a lockdown defender, but improvements are needed.

The Stat: 19 on 51%

Call it cherry-picked but this is still excellent company that LaVine and Lauri Markkanen find themselves in. Whether you think LaVine will become a star or simply be a scoring piece to complement around other top options, his trajectory is promising. In the limited minutes he and Markkanen have played together, it’s clear the two pieces work as a 1-2 scoring punch. This, of course, allows the Bulls to focus on other areas like drafting a defender in Wendell Carter Jr. or adding shooting on the wing in Otto Porter. There are plenty of steps to take during a rebuild, but finding two guys who score efficiently night in and night out is a big piece of it.

2019-20 Expectations: What does LaVine have in store for Year 2? He proved he can be a primary scoring option – though he may cede those responsibilities to Lauri Markkanen – and was an above average distributor on the wing. He can drop 20 points in his sleep, has no problem getting to the free throw line and improved his 3-point field goal percentage. The next step is to improve on his efficiency, which should be helped out if Markkanen can take his own next step and take some of the burden off LaVine. LaVine goes from a nice scorer to an All-Star if he gets his percentages up to 48/39/85 (last year he was 46/37/83).

He'll continue to be called upon as a leader, too, as Jim Boylen gives him more responsibility in such a role. Incredibly, he’ll be entering his sixth season in the NBA this fall. He said multiple times that the Bulls need to learn how to win, and the roster will be looking to LaVine on how to get that done.