Bulls

Rose reflective after Bulls win, feels like best is yet to come

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Rose reflective after Bulls win, feels like best is yet to come

Joakim Noah had a playful hand clap when emerging from the showers and seeing the throng of media in front of Derrick Rose’s locker, while Pau Gasol could only smirk in appreciation.

It had been a while since Rose’s words came after a vintage performance, especially one that has birthed so much positivity. It wasn’t about when Rose was coming back, or how was his body feeling—at least not in the context of some inactivity and doubt surrounding a return.

Twenty-two thousand eyes witnessed Rose do what he’d done so many times on call as he became the league’s youngest MVP—and chanted that name in the fourth quarter after a quicksilver drive to the hoop.

When Noah was asked which part of Rose’s game he liked the most, be it his passing or driving, he answered simply.

“I just liked him on the court,” Noah said. “When you see Derrick moving like that, it’s a plus for this team. He’s gone through so much, injuries, and to see him come back and play at that level, it’s big.”

[MORE: Rose's clutch plays down the stretch seal win for Bulls]

There was a hint of melancholy from Rose after his best game in “The Return, Part III”, in which he reminded everyone why he’s so dangerous if he’s right.

And although his often-monotone emotions didn’t display it, the words were of an appreciative man.

A man just as appreciative of his mates in the locker room as they are happy that he’s back. They believe Saturday’s performance was just the start.

“It’s still gonna take time,” Rose said. “I’m just happy I have the teammates that I have. A guy misses so many games and come back, trying to find my way through, they’re staying with me, sticking with me. I’m grateful, excited and just filled with joy that I’m back playing.”

Rose knew this was different from the moment he left the hospital after his meniscus surgery six weeks ago.

“I didn’t have a brace, wasn’t sleeping in a brace for four months,” Rose said. “Walked out of the hospital. All of those little things, I think are pluses for me. Just knowing how hard I work and how I work on my craft, I’m gonna be in a good position once the playoffs come.”

He seemed just as proud of his 22 points in the Bulls’ 114-107 win over the 76ers as his eight assists—chief reason for his plus-25 in the box score in his 28 minutes.

An underrated facet of Rose’s game was on display, as he found teammates for easy opportunities in the open floor. Two such instances didn’t yield assists, but it illustrates the effort made by the other players on the floor when he has the ball.

Once was a lead pass to Pau Gasol that resulted in free throws, another was a bullet pass on a two-on-one fast break to Jimmy Butler, where Butler missed the layup but it was followed up by Gasol for a tip-in.

Rose possesses that Isiah Thomas-like ability to throw pinpoint passes ahead to teammates instead of insisting on running it up the floor himself for early offense.

And his teammates know it, getting out on the break with quickness, readying themselves for easy opportunities

Rose acknowledges the obvious, that he’s been out of the game for a long time and the process is ongoing, possessing a self-awareness many didn’t believe existed.

“When you miss three years damn near you see everything,” Rose said. “I’m just being patient a little bit more. There’s no point in me forcing anything, the way they’re playing me, they’re not double-teaming me. They’re letting me do what I wanna do, it’s just all about me catching a rhythm.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the playoffs, Bulls fans!]

And he looked like himself late in the evening, getting to the basket when the floor was spread, for layups and three-point play opportunities. So now when he says he feels good, perhaps Rose should be taken at his word.

“Every game I play is a stride,” he said. “Every day I go in and work out, do my training. It’s a step forward. Every day is a positive day, even if I have a bad game or bad day. I try to erase it the next day.”

Presumably, that comes with remembering what makes him great, and getting closer to having the ability to produce these performances on call when they matter most.

“That’s my goal,” he said. “Every time I step on the floor, I try to give my best. I try to win the game, put my all out there. I’m trying to figure this thing out. Not playing for so long, coming back here and there, it’s all right. I think I’m built for it.”

Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?

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USA TODAY

Report: Bulls possibly interested in adding Jrue Holiday?

According to a story by Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney, the Bulls may be looking for help in the form of one of the NBA’s better two-way players.

In the post, Deveny goes over the most salient points made by brand new New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin. This included the fact that Griffin stated that Pels head coach Alvin Gentry will be back and that Jrue Holiday is considered “a franchise building block”.

This could be a bit of gamesmanship from Griffin, hoping to drive up the asking price for an All-Star caliber player such as Holiday.

But Deveney suggests that New Orleans may indeed be serious about their efforts to keep building with Holiday on the roster. Deveney stated, “if the Pelicans don't trade Holiday, it will set up the team for an attempt at a fast turnaround rather than a long, slogging rebuild......It will also frustrate teams looking for a versatile point guard in his prime, hoping that Holiday would be on the block.”

Phoenix was mentioned as the “top contender” for Holiday’s services should he be made available, as the Suns are one of the few teams with an obvious hole at PG. Along with the Suns, Chicago and Orlando were the other teams listed as having interest in Holiday. The Magic completed a low-risk trade during the 2018-19 season that landed them 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, so they may not be inclined to give up solid assets in a deal.

As far as the Bulls are concerned, any serious inquires on Holiday are likely to come after the May 14 NBA Draft lottery.

Depending on where the Bulls lottery pick ends up, the Pelicans could be much more inclined to make a deal with the Chicago front office. The Pelicans ended the season tied with Memphis and Dallas for the 7th spot in the draft lottery odds, and their specific organizational goals could make moving up in the draft order worth losing a valuable player like Jrue Holiday. And for the Bulls, nabbing a player like Holiday helps build onto the positive team culture that Jim Boylen wants to establish and gives the Bulls a perfect guard to pair in the backcourt with Zach LaVine.

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

This is the first entry in our "8 for 38" series, where will be looking at eight different under-the-radar NBA prospects that the Bulls could snag with their No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Charles Bassey/ 6’11’’/ 275 lbs./ Freshman/ Western Kentucky  

Bassey is a a well-regarded five-star recruit from Nigeria, who played his college ball at Western Kentucky University. He is a physical force on the court but definitely is a raw prospect at this stage of his development.

Bassey came into the season as an assumed first round talent, however, his stock has dropped after his impressive freshman season still revealed holes in his game that will definitely be exploited at the NBA level. All that being said, he was quite the prospect at WKU.

Strengths:

In his lone season at WKU, Bassey averaged 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game on 62.7 percent shooting from the field. His impressive double double average was built on his insane dominance inside the paint.

He shot an astounding 77.4 percent on shots at the rim and that number is even higher on non-post up shots around the basket. Bassey has a rudimentary hook shot that he can hit over his left shoulder but his postgame isn’t the hub of his offense. He generates most of his points by finishing on pick-and-rolls and using his faceup game.

Bassey’s physicality leads to him setting hard screens, and when he doesn’t set a hard screen, he slips to the basket quickly where he takes advantage with his soft touch when looking to score. It is tough for help defenders to knock Bassey off his path when he is rolling to the rim, as his immense lower body strength allows him to displace smaller players.

When Bassey faces up from 15-feet and in, he uses the aforementioned soft touch to convert on 40.8 percent of his 2-PT jump shots per Hoop-Math.com. On top of that, he generally has the speed to blow by most big men.

Bassey’s biggest strength from day one in the NBA will be his motor. He clearly gets fired up for big matchups, as he showcased when he dominated Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, who ended up winning the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given by the Basketball Hall of Fame to the country’s best center. In their late December matchup, Bassey helped hold Happ to a very inefficient 20 points on 23 shots.

In that same game Bassey finished with 19 points (7/8 FG, 5/5 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. He has arguably had better games, but the all-around versatility showcased in the stat line above is outstanding.

Bassey has flashed the ability to make nice passes before:

Since Bassey’s NBA offense will be centered around pick-and-roll plays, further developing his decision making on the short-roll will be a boon to whatever team drafts him.

On defense, Bassey already shows the ability to be an asset in the right system. When he is allowed to play in a traditional defensive system that has the center dropping back in pick-and-roll coverage, he swallows up shots with his 7-foot-3 wingspan.

Weaknesses:

The gigantic weakness Bassey showcased this season was an inability to function as a switch defender. He was great when it comes to protecting the rim--he averaged 2.4 blocks per game-- but he was consistently beat off the dribble by guards.

Of course it is rare to find any center--let alone a young one--that has the legitimate ability to function at a high-level when it comes to switching on to smaller, faster players. But that is precisely what makes Bassey the exact type of center you can find easily.

This is why a player of his talent level can slip into the second round.

Another big issue for Bassey is hands, or more specifically, the inability to hold on to passes when diving to the rim. As mentioned above, pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop basketball is how Bassey will carve out a niche in the league. But he occasionally struggled to hold on to the ball on throws that many would not even consider to be “tough passes”.

In the above strengths section it is mentioned how Bassey has some untapped potential as a passer, but he will never cash in on that potential if simply possessing the ball is a difficulty for him. He isn’t as explosive as usual if there are multiple defenders crowding him and raking at the ball, which happens often.

Over 1,067 minutes Basey amassed 24 assists as compared to a whopping 97 turnovers.

Long term outlook:

I believe Bassey will have a long NBA career due to his finishing in the paint and ability to block shots.

Bassey ran roughshod over his mostly Conference USA opposition on the season.

His 62.7 percent shooting from the field and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes were a few of the many things that showed that Bassey is at least ready for the physicality of the NBA.

But to become much more than a solid journeyman center, Bassey will have to hone his perimeter jump shot to the point that he can become a solid 3-point threat. He shot 45 percent on a very limited 20 attempts from 3-point range and converted on 76.9 percent of his free throws, an enticing set of numbers that show the type of player he could be in the future.

Whether or not Robin Lopez stays, the Bulls will be short on center depth next season.  After Wendell Carter Jr. went down for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, we saw the Bulls play ultra-small lineups that got beat up on the glass often as Jim Boylen was still reluctant to play Felicio more than 15 minutes per game.

Adding a high-upside prospect like Bassey helps Boylen and co. avoid over-using lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center, which helps keep Markkanen fresh and theoretically improves the overall team defense.