Bulls

Mountain finally too high to climb for resilient Bulls?

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Mountain finally too high to climb for resilient Bulls?

From bad to worse, to terrible.

Instead of a third-quarter collapse, it was a fourth-quarter failure.

Instead of Derrick Rose going down with a torn ACL, it was Joakim Noah with a severely sprained ankle.

And instead of a repeat trip to the Eastern Conference Finalsstill a possibility after Roses injury; vanquishing the 76ers appeared to be a foregone conclusionthe Bulls are now in danger of losing in the first round.

Its tough, acknowledged Kyle Korver. Thats just the way our years been.

Indeed, it seems like what began as such a promising season and still seemed like it could end up with a title run, despite Roses multiple injuries, might just not be in the cards. The Bulls have beaten the odds all year, but even their tremendous resiliency might be stretched too thin by the recent run of misfortune.

Next man up. Its the way it is. Weve got more than enough to win with. On the road, youve got to play 48 minutes and going into the last two minutes, the game was right there, right there to be had. Weve got to find a way to win. Find a way to win, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Weve got to be ready. Thats our job. Weve got to be ready to go. Cant feel sorry for ourselves. Weve got one day to make some corrections and then be ready for Sunday.

It sounds good, but looking at Thibodeau, his face didnt contain that same fighting spirit and while interpreting facial expressions shouldnt be left to journalists, simply observing him on the sidelines during Game 3 spoke volumes. Sure, hell be questioned for allowing Noah back into the game after his gruesome injurythough the center wouldnt have been able to play if he didnt insist on it and the teams medical staff didnt allow itbut more than anything, it appears that last seasons NBA Coach of the Year just doesnt have any more rabbits to pull out of his hat.

Everyones got to play to their strengths and theyre not here by accident. Every player has strengths, so weve got to play to their strengths and weve got to find a different way to score, and weve got to do it quickly. Theres going to be a quick turnaround here. We cant feel sorry for ourselves. Sunday, when that ball goes up, weve got to be ready to go, said Thibodeau, still refusing to bend to what everyone else can see is a stacked deck. Injuries are part of the game, so youve got to have a mental toughness to get past all that. Weve had injuries all year and you just deal with it, but if you look, you can find something every night, every game. Short-handed, regular season back-to-back, early start, late start, whatever it is, or you can find a way to win and thats what you need. You need guys that have great will to win and no matter what the circumstances are, will find a way to win.

Hey, at least if the captains going down with his ship, his crew is staying on board with him.

Weve got to get one here, right? queried Kyle Korver, ironically a former 76er. So if we didnt get tonight, weve got to get it on Sunday and go back home tied 2-2, home-court advantage, so thats our focus.

Thats the way it is with this Bulls team. Unfortunately, good intentions wont make up for the loss of arguably their two most important players, after back-to-back crushing defeats.

Bulls Talk Podcast: How NBA Draft combine impacted mock drafts

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: How NBA Draft combine impacted mock drafts

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill discuss the NBA Draft and what happened at the NBA combine that shifted most experts mock drafts.

Kendall also explains why a "promise" to draft a player isn’t guaranteed. He also shares his experience on getting drafted by the Hornets and why he initially felt they were the wrong team for him.

North Carolina "News and Observer" Duke basketball beat writer Jonathan Alexander gives us his opinion on Wendell Carter and the other Duke draft prospects including why he thinks Carter will be a future all-star. Also includes an interview with Carter from the draft combine.

Listen to the full Bulls Talk Podcast right here:

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

Anfernee Simons looks more like a ball boy than a 2018 NBA Draft prospect right now. He’s not considered small, what with having a 6-foot-3 frame with a massive 6-foot-9 wingspan, and he weighed in at last week’s NBA Draft Combine at 183 pounds, “heavier” than Lottery-bound guards like Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Collin Sexton.

But there’s plenty of potential to unpack from the soon-to-be 19-year-old, baby-faced combo guard. Don’t let the appearance fool you. Simons is one of the most talented players in the class, and a team patient enough to let him develop at his own pace could reap major benefits in due time.

You won’t find much video on Simons, as the IMG Academy star is preparing to be the first prospect to go preps-to-pros without a year in college since Thon Maker did so in 2016.

Simons, a consensus five-star recruit in the 2018 class, originally committed to Louisville in November 2016 and then decommitted the following September shortly after Rick Pitino was fired. Since he had graduated from Edgewater High School in Florida and was playing a post-grad year at IMG Academy, he became eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft because he is a year removed from high school. That’s where he played this past season, declaring for the draft and signing with an agent in late March.

“The opportunity is there. Me and my parents talked about it a lot and I feel like I’m confident in myself that I’ll be able to make this jump,” he said at last week’s Combine. “So I just felt like, do it now and not waste any time.”

Simons has been on the radars of NBA teams, even if he’s not a household name like Ayton, Doncic and Bagley. He’s currently projected outside of the Lottery, in part because teams haven’t seen him compete against collegiate level talent and because his wiry frame almost surely means time in the G-League as a rookie. But again, the skill set is there.

Simons is a point guard with solid range beyond the arc. He may struggle off the ball because of his size, though that long wingspan and a quick release from his chest should allow him to get off shots. He’s a blur in transition and finishes well at the rim – his 41.5-inch vertical was tied for third best at the Combine, and his three-quarters court sprint was eighth fastest.

He’s a mixed bag defensively. Wingspan is the fun buzz word these days, and that will help him at the next level, but his small frame means there’s work to be done. A strength and conditioning coach will salivate at bringing Simons into the weight room and getting his body NBA-ready.

“Just staying durable through 82 games,” Simons answered when asked about his biggest challenge physically at the next level. “Taking care of your body is real pivotal so I feel like learning how to take care of my body now is a good thing.”

Simons maturely answered that the “unknown” of his game will be both a positive and minus during the pre-draft process. While fellow prospects he may face in team workouts don’t know as much about him and, thus, his game, teams also need to find out more about Simons’ game and off-court habits.

“Coming in young, people don’t know who I am and haven’t seen me play much. That’s the good side about coming in early,” he said. “It could be the same thing (negatively). People haven’t seen me like that, so I feel like they don’t know who I am. They probably think I’m too young to play in the league.”

Simons met with the Bulls and has scheduled a pre-draft workout with them. Though the Bulls feel like their rebuild could go quicker than anticipated – especially if they hit on their No. 7 pick – there could be plenty to gain from drafting for upside on a player like Simons.

Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne will both be free agents in 2019, and Denzel Valentine’s long-term future isn’t set in stone in Chicago. That leaves plenty of openings in the backcourt behind Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. Simons won’t be ready to contribute much in 2018-19, but the Bulls wouldn’t need him to. A handful of outlets projected Simons as a top-5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Bulls could snag him a year earlier, let him develop in Hoffman Estates and bring him up in a year when they’re a step closer to contending.