Bulls

Pau Gasol not forcing the offense against Bucks' double teams

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Pau Gasol not forcing the offense against Bucks' double teams

The ball softly left the sure hands of Pau Gasol, falling off the rim before the Spaniard tipped once and tipped again as the ball finally reached its destination in Game 2 against the Bucks, followed by Gasol yelling in relief and satisfaction.

But like everything else with Gasol in this series, there was a drawback—his final tip was waved off because of a loose ball foul he wasn’t involved in, negating his basket and the frustrating energy he used to score.

Gasol has been public enemy No. 1 on Jason Kidd’s defensive scheme, running double-teams so fast and furious at Gasol that he probably sees them in his sleep.

But despite shooting just 31 percent through the first two games this series, he hasn’t lashed out in frustration or tried to force his own offense. Whether it’s John Henson or Zaza Pachulia or the long-armed Giannis Antetokounmpo running at him, facing single-coverage hasn’t happened at all this series.

“The double teams, if they continue, so be it,” Gasol said. “I'm not worried about making the right play and being unselfish. If they're doubling me, there's a guy who's gonna be wide open with a better shot than I would. I'm prepared if that stops.”

They’ve made the decision that Gasol will not be the one to beat them, and even though they’ve given Derrick Rose more attention when he has the ball, they haven’t lightened up on Gasol, perhaps the greatest sign of respect. He’s used to getting doubled-up on, but it’s usually after getting off with a few easy scores and a defense adjusting to stop him.

“I just attract two defenders, which I like to do anyways,” Gasol said. “For the most part that takes sometimes you get going and score a few buckets then they make adjustments but it's been continuous and automatic since the start of the series. If that continues, I'll continue to make the right play. Even though I haven't been in a very good rhythm, somebody else will get a good shot and that's good offense.”

[PLAYOFFS: Mirotic ruled out for Game 3, could miss Game 4 with injury]

While the Bulls are up 2-0 and poised to take a real stronghold on the series if they can weather the emotions and energy of the Bucks tomorrow night, they haven’t been a fluid offensive group, heavily dependent on Rose and Jimmy Butler.

Rose, a player who’s never been afraid to attack double teams and force up a few shots at times, admires Gasol’s patience.

““It says a lot about his character as far as he’ll do anything to win,” Rose said. “He knows that they’re coming right away, he’s not complaining about shots, he’s not worrying about playing so many minutes. He just wants to win the game, so it rubs off on everyone. You’ve got a player like that, that’s giving himself up the way he does it shows a lot.’’

The Bulls often speak about what “the game gives you”—which sure sounds like a “Thibs-ism” or Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich saying to “play the right way”. Either way, Gasol makes it a habit of having his unselfishness lead by example.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It’s great having him,” Rose said. “With the way that they’re double-teaming him, they’re not even allowing him to get a good shot off. They’re coming right away, so it’s easy basketball. Two swings to an open shot, that’s the easies shot that you can get when they’re double-teaming like that.’’

They shot just 38 percent in Game 2, and one can expect the screws will be tightened even more with Nikola Mirotic out. Gasol may have to be more aggressive—and Tom Thibodeau will probably have to put Gasol in situations where he’s on the move and can score before the double teams come.

“If I can, yeah. If I can, if I get opportunities I'll be more aggressive,” Gasol said. “I'm not discontent with my level of aggressiveness, I just try to make the right play. See if I can make a couple more shots and see if I can be good.”

Bulls' Coby White has 7th best odds to win 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year

Bulls' Coby White has 7th best odds to win 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year

The 2019 NBA Draft has finally come and gone, and we now have a much better idea of how the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year race will pan out.

Of course, Zion Williamson has been the frontrunner to win ROY in most sports books before the draft even happens, and not much has changed since then at the top, with Williamson listed as a -450 favorite to win the award via Caesars. But when perusing through the rest of the top ROY odds, it is interesting where the split comes in terms of Caesar’s confidence in each first-year talent.

The top five in the odds were pretty much chalk, with the top five draft picks having the best odds in order, besides No. 5 overall pick Darius Garland finishing ahead of No. 4 overall pick De’Andre Hunter. Garland’s +1000 odds are likely the result of the general expectation that he and incumbent point guard Collin Sexton will be the driving forces of the Cavaliers’ offense.

Meanwhile, Hunter is sure to serve in more of a supporting role as a wing opposite Cam Reddish (+2500 odds) and 2018 NBA ROY runner up Trae Young, who possess much more in terms of ball handling and shot-creating ability. Speaking of ball handling and shot-creating ability, Bulls No. 7 overall pick Coby White comes in tied for 7th with +3000 odds to come away with the ROY award. 

White has the same odds as No. 8 pick Jaxson Hayes, and only slightly better odds than No. 9 pick Rui Hachimura and No. 15 pick Sekou Doumbouya. Historically, the ROY award goes to whichever first-year player has the most productive season in terms of raw numbers. White is expected to compete for the starting point guard job with Kris Dunn and whatever veterans the Bulls front office brings in.

While it is true that Coby White is not guaranteed a starring role in Chicago, the average-to-below-average guard play that the organization has received over the years would seem to indicate that the speedy first-year guard will be a fixture in the rotation all season long. 

When bettors first glance at White’s +3000 odds, they make look at it as a normal line and reasonably stay away from the longshot. But if you--like Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson--believe that White is an extremely coachable talent who will help get the entire Bulls team to commit to a more up-tempo style, then rolling with White’s odds in the ROY race is a no-brainer.

Waiting to see how free agency shakes out would be a prudent move on the part of bettors, but have confidence in White, who figures to be a crucial part of the rotation whether or not the Bulls go with a veteran starter or the incumbent, Kris Dunn, in the lead guard spot. 

Bulls Talk Podcast: Coby White and Daniel Gafford join Mark Schanowski

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Coby White and Daniel Gafford join Mark Schanowski

Mark Schanowski is joined by Bulls top draft picks Coby White and Daniel Gafford after they were introduced to the media Monday at the Advocate Center.

0:50        White on how he thinks he can help the Bulls

1:25        White on his meeting with Jim Boylen

2:00        White on joining a very young roster

2:30        White on the influence of his father

3:33        White on the viral video of him reacting to Cam Johnson being drafted

4:50        White on his teammate first personality

5:38        White on looking forward to playing w Gafford

6:42        Gafford on his skill set

7:15        Gafford on watching the NBA when he can

7:40        Gafford on evolving big man role

8:47        Gafford on if he can do more offensively

9:20        Gafford on Bobby Portis, and some of their similarities

10:30     Gafford on some of his highlights from Arkansas

11:10     Gafford on Jim Boylen

11:30     Gafford on pick n roll game

12:00     Gafford on Coby White

12:40     Gafford on falling to the 2nd round, how getting drafted by the Bulls worked out

13:22     Gafford on throwing out 1st pitch at an upcoming Sox game

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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