Bulls

Lucas understands rags-to-riches "Linsanity" phenomenon

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Lucas understands rags-to-riches "Linsanity" phenomenon

If any player on the Bulls can fully grasp the Linsanity phenomenon, its John Lucas III. In the absence of both the still-sidelined Derrick Rose and backup point guard C.J. Watson earlier this season, Lucas showcased his ability to the tune of 25 points (on 28 shots) in a win over visiting Washington.

Thus, he understands that when given the opportunity, even a deep reserve on an NBA team has the ability to light it up if permitted to play enough minutes.

That said, Lucas, already a journeyman of sorts in his young professional career, while not jealous of Lin who has led the Knicks to a 7-0 record since he started receiving major minutes; hes 6-0 as a starter knows that time and situation plays a part in the success of players.

As a player, kind of in our shoes, who plays a little bit, maybe goes back to the end of the bench or not play at all, one team this year, another team next year, youre out of the league when you see players stay with it and not give up on what they want to do and want they want to accomplish, you root for them, Lucas explained to CSNChicago.com. I like his game and Ive been watching him, and its great that he went in there and stepped up. Hes accepting the challenge and so, youve got to root a person on whos an underdog.

Lucas, whose father played and coached in the league, recognized Lins talent when the current Knicks star was playing in college.

I watched him when he was at Harvard. My dad is really good friends with Tommy Amaker, whos the head coach at Harvard, and when they came to play Rice University in Houston, Lucas hometown, I was able to go to the game," he recounted. "I watched him play then and I watch him play now. Hes got game. If he didnt have game, he wouldnt be in this league, so it just shows you cant take anybody lightly because theyve never played and hes making the best of his opportunity.

"I just take my hat off to him. I thought he had a shot. I wouldnt say a legit lottery pick or anything like that, but I thought he had a legitimate shot to play in this league when I saw him play because I saw he was poised and he plays the game fun having fun out there, thats what its all about and it shows.

Lucas believes that by playing in New Yorks guard-friendly system, Lin the winner of the Eastern Conference player of the week award last week is better equipped to thrive, even after the return of All-Star Carmelo Anthony, known as an isolation scorer.

The system fits. Mike DAntonis system is a running system and he brings the Phoenix offense, so you really, as a PG, dont have to worry about getting into plays just get it and go, a lot of pick-and-roll and when youre able to create, get into the paint, finish, dime it, that system fits just about anybody," Lucas observed. "Its almost like youre playing in a summer-league game, but it fits him and I think he fits that system, he fits that coach and that team. Hes just showing what he brings to the table.

I dont think its a big adjustment. At the end of the day, as a ballplayer, you know your position, you know your role on the team. Obviously, hes not going to shoot the ball as much as hes been doing. Because of the injuries to them, hes had to step up to the plate and take some of the slack. I think, as a basketball player, youll find your way when everybody gets back, everybody gets healthy because its not just going to make you better. Its going to make the whole team better.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.