Bulls

NBA Draft Profile: Notre Dame G Pat Connaughton

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NBA Draft Profile: Notre Dame G Pat Connaughton

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2015 NBA Draft we will provide profiles of more than 60 prospects, including video interviews with each player, what they're saying leading up to draft day as well as their potential fit on the Bulls.

Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky

6'5" | 215 lbs. | 22 years old

2014-15 stats:

12.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 46.6 field-goal percentage, 42.3 3-point percentage

Projection:

Late second round/undrafted

Quotable:

“I think the adjective everyone uses is ‘deceptively athletic.’ For me I try to disprove that day in and day out. The funniest things are when you’re in warmup lines, where you’re in a San Antonio Spurs workout and they say, ‘Do a highlight-reel dunk that you want to do.’ After I do it, guys I’m playing with are like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could jump like that. I was shocked.’ And it’s not even like an ‘Oh!’ type thing. It’s like a dead-silence type thing. It’s kind of cool. It’s something that I’ve always prided myself on.”

Fit for the Bulls:

Despite helping to lead the Fighting Irish to an ACC Tournament championship and the brink of a Final Four appearance and a wowing performance at the NBA Draft Combine that made everyone realize just how athletic he is, Connaughton might end up not playing basketball at all. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and still has a career in professional baseball open as an option. But Connaughton could certainly help an NBA team, including the Bulls. He's a solid defender and a great shooter, tickling the twine at a 42.3-percent clip from beyond the 3-point arc this past season. He factored big in the postseason for Notre Dame, scoring 20 points in the ACC Tournament title game against North Carolina and scoring a combined 31 points and grabbing a combined 28 rebounds in the Irish's final three NCAA tournament games. The Bulls are looking to add more to their offensive attack under new head coach Fred Hoiberg, and if Connaughton is around when they pick in the second round — and if he picks the NBA over Major League Baseball — he could be an intriguing option.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.