Bulls

Hamilton or Bogans? Bulls just want a winner

609252.png

Hamilton or Bogans? Bulls just want a winner

With only 11 players on the Berto Center practice court, it's no secret the Bulls are currently short-handed. Although Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau refused to comment on speculation that veteran shooting guard Rip Hamilton, waived Friday by the Pistons, some of his players cautiously voiced their opinions about the potential acquisition.

"Rip is a winner," Derrick Rose said Friday, after the first practice of the season. "I can't say anything bad about him. He's got a championship. It's great. He knows the game, he came from winning programs.

"If he comes along, I know we'd be happy to have him," the league MVP continued. "I'm fine with the team that I have. I don't know what's going on right now, with who might be coming in or whatever, but with the team that I had, I thought that we were good."

Chimed in Joakim Noah: "Rip's a hell of a player, but as a player, those aren't things that we can control. We don't really know what Pax and Gar, and the front office are doing. I have confidence in those guys doing the right thing, so for us, the only thing we can do is work hard."

Noah, however, did provide some insight on the mysterious saga of last year's starter at shooting guard, Keith Bogans.

"There's definitely a couple players that should be coming back," said the center. "Keith will probably be coming back -- I mean, I hope.

"I don't know what the situation is, but all we can do is control what we can control as players."

Added Rose on Friday: "Keith, he's always been a good vet to me.

"I don't know what's going on," he went on to say. "Coach didn't talk about it, so I really didn't think anything of it."

Thibodeau has been a consistently passionate advocate of Bogans' -- from when he was a surprise starter at the outset of last season, through fans and media alike maligning him for his typically light-scoring performances, all the way to when he first addressed reporters last week at the Berto Center -- so it wouldn't be a shock if Noah's prediction came true, with the caveat that it would have to work financially for both parties and Bogans would need to be willing to possibly accept a lesser role.

However, whether Hamilton, Bogans -- or both -- don Bulls uniforms this season, the team's star expressed strong feelings about what kind of player he'd like to see in Chicago.

"A winner. Someone that has a great attitude, that knows how to win basketball games and works their tail off. That's all we need on this team, someone that really knows how to win games and knows their role," said Rose. "Definitely, that a player with championship experience would be great. A winner is a winner. It comes from college, high school, grammar school, whatever. If you know how to win, we need you."

"It's not a skill, just a winner. Give me a winner. We've got winners on our team, just added Jimmy Butler -- he knows how to win games -- we just need winners on this team," he continued.

"With the guys that we have, the guys that we just added, like Jimmy and everyone else, we're a great team. We don't know who else is coming, but we know that whoever we have -- I know the front office has been doing a great job of bringing in good people with attitude that just want to win basketball games."

Jabari Parker and Tyler Ulis shine at open run in Chicago

jabari.jpg
USA TODAY

Jabari Parker and Tyler Ulis shine at open run in Chicago

Jabari Parker is looking forward to what will surely be an intriguing season for he and the Chicago Bulls.


Parker signed a two-year, $40 million contract, that essentially acts as a tryout for the Bulls. The second year of the contract is a team option, meaning should things not go well, the organization can cut ties with him. But after 183 career games with the Bucks over four seasons, it was clear that Parker was in need of a fresh start. In Chicago, he will slide in as the day one starting small forward, and is already paid like a player who is definitely appreciated by his organization.


But with all of the off the court stuff taken care of for now, Parker's main focus is getting in to the best shape of his life, as he prepares for a full season as a wing player. 


Part of Parker's preparation was a great pickup game in downtown Chicago organized by the Chicago Basketball Club.

 

For Bulls fans itching to get a look at Parker on the court, the video shows off some flashy passing ability, impressive handles and a flurry of pull-up jumpers from the 23-year old forward. He also finishes well in transition in the video, though that is to be taken with a grain of salt as Parker was easily the biggest player on the court. 


Other players in the pickup game included former Simeon teammate of Parker's, Kendrick Nunn; and NBA free agent and former Marion Catholic star Tyler Ulis (a possible Bulls target?). If Parker looks as dynamic against NBA competition as he did in the pickup game below, the Bulls are going to have one of the more valuable contracts in the league in 2020, and would be likely to lock up Parker to a long-term deal. 

Bulls need to develop a secondary playmaker

playmaking.jpg
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.