Bulls

National media reacts to Jimmy Butler blockbuster deal

National media reacts to Jimmy Butler blockbuster deal

If you watched the first round of the NBA Draft, you probably noticed ESPN's Jalen Rose shouting, "Fleeced!" at every mention of the Jimmy Butler deal. 

The Bulls sent the three-time All-Star and No. 16 overall selection (Justin Patton) to Tom Thibodeau's Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 7 pick (Lauri Markkanen), Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. 

While Rose clearly thinks GarPax got swindled, other media members were much more split. 

Bill Simmons, notable Boston homer and Rose's close buddy, took the time to apologize to Bulls fans. 

On the other hand, ESPN's Bomani Jones believes it's a win-win. 

Skip Bayless - yes, we regrettably included Skip Bayless - put away his eye-burning hot takes for five seconds to fairly assess how Thibs' T-Wolves will benefit from acquiring a two-way veteran. 

Like other journalists, Zach Lowe questioned why Chicago included their first-round pick and how it factors into re-signing Nikola Mirotic. 

Avid Bulls fan and The Basketball Analogy podcast guest Black Tray left the analysis behind, opting to go straight for the heart. 

https://twitter.com/blk_tray/status/878072185025200129  

We'll leave that right there. 

NBA Draft Big Board Check In: Barrett nets 4th triple double in Duke history, Ja Morant sets OVC single-season assists record

NBA Draft Big Board Check In: Barrett nets 4th triple double in Duke history, Ja Morant sets OVC single-season assists record

Mark Schanowski's Big Board 5.0 had some movement, particularly around the bottom half of the top 10. We take the time to go over some of the best performances of the week from prospects on Schanowski's NBA Draft Big Board. 

RJ Barrett, Duke: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 0 turnovers 

The 18-year old Canadian joined some elite Blue Devil company, netting the first triple-double since Sheldon Williams in 2006. It was also the fourth triple double all-time in Duke basketball history.

We've seen Barrett rack up nice point and rebound totals before, but we rarely see him play under control. On Saturday night, Barrett had zero turnovers in an NCAA game for this first time in his career. 

His 3-point shot wasn't falling, but Barrett went 6/6 from the free throw line and flashed the abilty to score from the midrange, a crucial part of his game, especially if it takes awhile for his 3-point jumper to fully develop. 

Despite Barrett's jumper being maddeningly inconsistent, his ability to get into the lane with allow him to thrive in the NBA. If he beats his man off the dribble—which he does with regularity—a help defender has to commit to getting his way early or else.....

Barrett (vis Basketball Reference) has the second highest assist rate on the team behind point guard Tre Jones and one of the lowest turnover rates on the team as well. If Barrett keeps taking steps forward as a playmaker, then any concerns about his inconsistent shooting or defense take a backseat to that development. 

De'Andre Hunter, Virginia: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block 

Hunter is the prototypical 3-and-D small forward prospect. He has great length, strong hands, and is capable of guarding bigger players in the post and holding his own against smaller/faster players on the perimeter. And on offense Hunter is a knockdown shooter who has improved as a playmaker as well. So far in the 2018-19 season, Hunter is shooting a hyper efficient 45.1 percent from the 3-point line and 53.3 percent from the field. In Virginia's win over Notre Dame on Saturday, Hunter came up big time with a 20-point, 10-rebound double double. 

His overall steal and block rates have dropped from his (also great) freshman season but make no mistake, he is still the best defender on one of the toughest defensive squads in the nation (that currently ranks third in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency per Kenpom.com).

Whatever team takes Hunter knows what they are getting, though he obviously has tons of room for development. His feel for the game is in question, especially on offense where he can sometimes show a suprising lack of aggression for a player who scores just under 15 PPG. 

The most important thing that Hunter did in the win over Notre Dame was getting to the free throw line. Hunter went 6/7 from the charity stripe against the Fighting Irish, the most FT attempts he has had in a game since January 29.

Ja Morant, Murray State: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 14 assists, 3 steals, 1 block 

The prospect that the Bulls have been linked to most in recent weeks in none other than viral sensation Ja Morant of Murray State. John Paxson was recently spotted at a Murray State game scouting Morant, and this comes on the heels of the Bulls publicly stating that they are still evaluating what they have at point guard. In his latest game, a win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, Morant netted a 25-point, 14-assist double double.

Mmorant was explosive in getting into the teeth of the defense, finishing 5/6 from the free throw line. His turnovers aren't a huge concern, as he obviously is the main (only?) ballhandler on his team. That being said, 9 turnovers are unacceptable, and it is the fourth time this season that Morant has ended a game with 9 or more turnovers. 

On the positive side, Morant's teammates shot a combined 63.6 percent from the field in the win over Eastern Kentucky, showing just how vital Morant's 14 assists were to the Racers' offense. Those 14 dimes also helped Morant make some history on the evening.

And on the scoring side of things, he had one his most efficient shooting nights in quite some time, going 9/17 from the field, which included a solid 2/5 (40 percent) shooting from 3-point range. His 3-point percentage for the season is at 32.5 percent. That figure isn't great, but it is better than his freshman year and on a greater volume of attempts, which shows a good amount of growth from the young guard. 

https://twitter.com/Mike_Schmitz/status/1083541053351882752His jumpshot form leads me to believe that he will not become an elite off the dribble 3-point shooter at any point inthe NBA, but as we've seen throughout his NCAA career, a lack of a pull-up 3-point shot won't stop Ja from becoming a great scorer at the next level.

Zion Williamson, Duke: 32 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals

There aren't any new developments as far as Williamson's NBA Draft stock goes. He was extremely aggressive and finish with 16 field goal attempts, his third highest in a single game this season. Williamson converted on 75 percent of his shots, which again, falls in line with his absolutely ridiculous 68 percent shooting from the field on the season. 

Williamson's final stat line in the win over NC State was 32 points, 6 rebounds, an assist and 3 steals in 30 minutes of action. 

And while his dominance over NC State was on Saturday night was superb, NBA fans were already thinking about what Zion's first NBA All-Star weekened will look like.

Bulls' Lauri Markkanen shines and shows off what a potential Markkanen-Luka Doncic combo would look like in 2019 Rising Stars Challenge

Bulls' Lauri Markkanen shines and shows off what a potential Markkanen-Luka Doncic combo would look like in 2019 Rising Stars Challenge

The Rising Stars Challenge is a fun showcase for the young stars of the NBA to show off their skills in a fast-paced game with little-to-no defense. So while you can’t gain much in terms of serious scouting information from this game, you can get a better picture of where a youngster ranks among the hierarchy of top prospects in the league. And if Friday night was any indication, Lauri Markkanen is certainly near the top of the totem pole when it comes to the best young talents in the league.

Markkanen’s (above) alley-oop, assisted by stellar Rookie of the Year front-runner Luka Doncic, showcased what could’ve been for the 2018-19 Bulls, who were reported to be discussing options to move up in the 2018 draft to try to land the stellar Slovenian prospect. But Bulls fans, for one half you got to see the potential of this duo.

Among the best international prospects in the world, Markkanen tied for the team lead with 17 field goal attempts.

Markkanen played in style, donning a pair of custom Nike Hyperdunks.

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Gameday 🔥🔥 #NBAAllStar 🇫🇮

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The Finnisher was his usual self from 3-point range, converting on 3/7 from deep. Markkanen didn’t just show off his range though. He impressed with athleticism that Bulls fans see in pregame warmups often, but that the rest of the hoops world may not know about.

The USA Team when into half with a 12-point lead.  But Team World came out firing in the second half, opening up with a 46-point third quarter in which Markkanen 6 points, 3 rebounds and an assist.

Ultimately, Markkanen’s 21 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists weren’t enough to nab MVP, more so considering that Team USA held on for a 161-144 win. But Markkanen showed that he belongs in any conversation about the best young players in the league, and that is more important than any accolade from a glorified scrimmage. Markkanen had fun, he played well and seems to have indicated that he is sure to have more in store next year.

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You won this round! 😂🏆 @kuz

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