Bulls

In the post: Healthy Bulls display great depth

In the post: Healthy Bulls display great depth

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010
12:20 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Kyle Korver, in his return to the lineup after dealing with a cyst in his left ankle, didnt have the most prolific scoring night, but had a solid all-around performance.

My legs felt good, my ankle felt good. I didnt have rhythm on my shot. I just kind of rushed my shot a little bit probably. It felt good to play basketball today again. Its been four or five days since Ive really played, so it was good, Korver told CSNChicago.com. Its everything. Shooting is legs and confidence. Your actual shot theres a whole bunch of great shooters that have got nasty form; you see all kinds of great shooters that you dont know what hand theyre shooting with half the time but your legs and your confidence, thats all of shooting and thats a huge thing and I know. The next few days, try to get some rhythm back.

Korver is a big believer in the Bulls second unit, feeling that aspect of the team is underrated. Oh, I think the bench is great. Once we get healthy, it will be even better. We have a lot of guys that can play. Omer Asik has really come along. Hes been a huge surprise for us. I dont think anyone thought hed be this good, this fast. When Booz comes back, Taj goes to the second lineup, too. Were going to be all right, Korver told CSNChicago.com. I dont think we lose anything when the second team comes in. Weve got a lot of guys that play hard, some veterans that know how to play and I think its going to be one of our strengths this year.

--James Johnson, an efficient double-figure scorer for the second straight game, told CSNChicago.com hes starting to find his niche with this years team after an up-and-down rookie campaign.

I felt comfortable. I practice with them every dayweve just been going as hard as we can, weve got good chemistry with each other, they dont mind me taking the shots and I dont mind taking the shots. Were out there playing as hard as we can, said Johnson. I want to be as physical as possible, but I just want to help the team, no matter what it is that I need to do. If I need to get physical, Ill get physical, but if I need to go get buckets, then thats what I have to do. But other than that, Im just doing me."

Johnson added a little bit of trash talk, saying the Bulls second unit is the team that beats first team most of the time, then asking fellow reserve Brian Scalabrine to confirm: Man, whos telling these stories? Scal, who wins first team or second team? See? Its a known fact. Thats okay. We know what happens. Just come to practice, man.

As for his coach, Thibodeau was pleased with the performance of Johnson, something that may have complicated his desire to figure out a set rotation to begin the regular season next week. I thought Johnson played very well, I thought all-around defensively he was very good, I thought he made quick decisions that were solid, said Thibodeau. I thought the team functioned well I thought a lot of guys played well but the rotation thing, thatll be something well study some more. Were not quite ready to make a decision on that and once we are, well talk to the players first.

--Ronnie Brewer is finally beginning to regain his mobility after suffering a pulled hamstring in training camp and his timing, showing he can be a playmaker on a Bulls team with only two true two point guards (Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson) on the roster.

These last two games, Ive been able to move a lot better. My shots still not where I want it to be. My legs trying to catch up to my body, but my hamstrings not really restricting me anymore and Im able to make cuts, slide and run the floor like Im supposed to do, Brewer told CSNChicago.com. I made a turnover today making a late decision trying to get him C.J. Watson the ball in the corner, but I feel comfortable handling the basketball, coming off pick-and-rolls if I get a rebound, pushing it up the court so I feel like if Im out on the court with D. Rose, if Im out on the court with C.J., Im comfortable with handling the ball and making plays for other people.

Dont forget to follow Aggrey Sam on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

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USA TODAY

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

John Calipari's 2017 recruiting class featured five McDonald's All-Americans and Hamidou Diallo, a former five-star recruit who nearly jumped to the NBA the previous year. It also included a lanky 6-foot-6 point guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And for the first part of the 2017-18 season, the Toronto native who played his final two high school years in Tennessee, appeared to be a nice fit off the bench for Calipari.

But something flipped. Gilgeous-Alexander was inserted into the starting lineup for good on January 9 and never looked back. He played his best basketball beginning in late February to the end of the season, a span of 10 games against eight NCAA Tournament opponents. In those games Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep and 84 percent from the free throw line, and added 1.4 steals in nearly 38 minutes per game for good measure. He was one of the best players in the country, and on a team with five McDonald's All-Americans, he was Calipari's best freshman.

"I knew with how hard I worked that anything was possible," SGA said at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "It was just a matter of time before it started clicking and I started to get it rolling."

That stretch included a 17-point, 10-assist double-double against Ole Miss, a 29-point showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, and 27 more points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Buffalo. Even in his worst game of the stretch, a 15-point effort against Kansas State in the Tournament, he made up for 2 of 10 shooting by getting to the free throw line 12, converting 11 of them.

It made his decision to make the jump to the NBA an easy one - that, and another loaded Calipari recruiting class incoming. He stands taller than just about any other point guard in the class and might have as good a jump shot as any. He's adept at getting to the rim, averaging 4.7 free throw attempts per game (that number jumped to 5.6 after he became a starter, and 7.5 in those final 10 games of the season. He isn't the quickest guard in the class, but he uses his feet well, is able to find open shooters due to his height and improved on making mistakes on drive-and-kicks as the season went on.

"I think I translate really well to the next level with there being so much more space on the floor and the open court stretched out," he said. "It only benefits me and my ability to get in the lane and make plays."

There's something to be said for him being the next in line of the Calipari point guards. The ever-growing list includes players like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray and DeAaron Fox. It's the NBA's version of Penn State linebackers or Alabama defensive linemen. The success rate is nearly 100 percent when it comes to Calipari's freshmen point guards; even Brandon Knight averaged 18.1 points over a three-year span in the NBA.

"That’s why guys go to Kentucky," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "It prepares them for the next level. Coach (Calipari) does a really good job, especially with point guards, getting them ready for that next level in a short amount of time."

Gilgeous-Alexander didn't test or play in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, but he still came out of Chicago a winner. He measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a ridiculous 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan, a full three inches longer than any other point guard at the Combine. He also added, rather uniquely, that he watches of film Kawhi Leonard playing defense. Most players don't mention watching film on different-position players; most players aren't 6-foot-6 point guards.

"(It's) obviously a more versatile league and playing small ball. And with me being able to guard multiple positions, a lot of teams are switching things like the pick and roll off ball screens, so me being able to switch and guard multiple positions can help an organization."

Gilgeous-Alexander's arrow is pointing way up. He appears to be teetering near Lottery pick status, though that could go one way or the other in private team workouts, especially if he's pitted against fellow top point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton. But if his rise at Kentucky is any indication, he'll only continue to improve his game, his stock and eventually his draft position.