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.
Robert Upshaw, C, Washington
7'0" | 258 lbs. | 21 years old
10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 59.3 FG%, 24.9 minutes, 19 games (kicked off team for violation of team rules)
Late first round to undrafted
"I have a clear understanding of what’s gone on in my life. And unlike most people in my situation I’ve been able to identify the wrongs and I’m able to go through the experiences and I’ve been able to learn from them. And everybody makes mistakes, regardless if they were the mistakes I made or the mistakes I’m going to make in life. At the end of the day I’ve learned and I’ve made my mistakes but I’m still going."
Rotoworld mock draft selection:
27. LA Lakers – Robert Upshaw, C, Washington: There are plenty of red flags with Upshaw after being kicked off a couple teams in college, and the team that drafts him will have to be sure to surround him with a top-notch support system. But he’s also big enough and solid enough defensively that he should be able to find a spot in the league, assuming he can stay out of trouble.
Fit for the Bulls:
If Upshaw didn't have so many red flags - he was kicked off both Fresno State and Washington for reportedly failing drug tests - he probably would be a lottery pick. A 7-footer with elite shot-blocking skills and an NBA-ready frame, Upshaw has the makings of a perfect complement to Pau Gasol on the second unit. Fred Hoiberg took in some troubled kids at Iowa State, so he's no stranger to getting the most out of players who otherwise wouldn't have received a shot. He's certainly good enough to be selected at No. 22 and he'll likely be available. The Bulls just need to figure out if the potential headache is worth having that second unit anchor who can defend the rim, rebound well and provide some inside scoring. He's easily the biggest wild card in the draft.
The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.
Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.”
The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.
“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”
Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne.
He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.
“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”
After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”
The Bulls faced a steep test opening their 2018-19 campaign against the Philadelphia 76ers.
That task won't become any easier with Kris Dunn missing the game for personal reasons, head coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters at shootaround on Thursday.
Dunn's exlusion opens up an opportunity for Cameron Payne, who will enter the starting lineup. Payne started 14 games for the Bulls last season, averaging 9.4 points and 5.6 assists in 26.5 minutes.
It also moves up Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis, both of whom will be active, in the rotation. Expect both to see at least some playing time, especially with Denzel Valentine also out while recovering from a sprained ankle suffered in training camp.
It could mean an even bigger evening for Sixers point guard Ben Simmons. The reigning Rookie of the Year posted 19 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists in Philly's season-opening loss to the Celtics on Tuesday.