Top picks and draft hopefuls converge at NBA Draft Combine


Top picks and draft hopefuls converge at NBA Draft Combine

It doesn't get as much attention as the NFL version, but the NBA Draft Combine is still a very big deal for those participating and those looking for the next player that will turn their teams around.

The West Side is playing host to dozens of NBA Draft entrants this week, and though they've all got the same goal, they are certainly not in the same spot.

The biggest media crowds gathered around a pair of Wisconsin Badgers, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, who both boosted their respective draft stocks with dynamic performances en route to an appearance in last month's national championship game. And it's for that reason that there's not much left to prove for the duo. Heck, Kaminsky wasn't even in uniform Thursday, conducting his interviews in street clothes. Dekker worked out, doing the measurable drills like vertical jump and shuttle run, but he — like many of the other big names expected to go early in next month's draft — didn't participate in the organized scrimmages.

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That doesn't mean, though, that those guys aren't working as hard to impress potential future employers. Dekker has his resume down to a few sentences, easily rattled off when asked what he can bring to an NBA team.

"I think I bring a lot of things," Dekker said, recounting his stump speech. "I bring versatility, competitive drive. The pro game is a style of game I like. I've learned a lot of things, discipline and being able to play in systems, so I think when you mix those together, it makes a pretty good combination of someone who can be with many different organizations and fit in well. I think offensively and defensively, I'll be able to be a good addition to any team. I'm looking forward to what's in store."

Expected to go in the lottery or not, it's still a process, and Dekker's finding it to be an enjoyable one.

"It's been fun, mostly," Dekker said. "You've got to enjoy it. As a basketball player, this is your dream, to be in this situation. So I'm waking up every day with a good mindset that I'm going to get better and keep improving and keep working on my game, trying to perfect my craft. I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but that's the good thing about basketball: You can get better every day."

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The experiences of Dekker and Kaminsky were similar to other stars of the NCAA tournament, like the massive Kentucky contingent and the tourney's most outstanding player, Duke's Tyus Jones.

Another Blue Devil, Chicago-native Jahlil Okafor, and Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns, the two guys who could be the Nos. 1 and 2 picks, aren't even at the Combine.

But the big names aren't the only names out there. Plenty of others have a lot to prove this week with hopes of drawing interest from NBA teams. Plenty of guys haven't interviewed with any teams yet.

Another Chicago native is looking to prove that a 6-foot-nothing point guard out of Wisconsin-Green Bay can realize the same draft dream as the guys who played on a national stage.

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Keifer Sykes, who attended John Marshall Metropolitan High School on the West Side, was thrilled to be back at home, citing his familiarity with the Quest Multisport Complex — just across the Eisenhower from Marshall — as a potential advantage to stick out to teams.

"I think it's fun," Sykes said. "I have a little more advantages than a lot of these guys. I can go get treatment, I can go do a lot of different things than these guys who've just got to get up out of a hotel bed. I know my family's here, so I can go home after a little bit, go see the family. It's just a chance for me throughout this process of going to the draft to connect with my family. I've been in this weight room hundreds of times, I've been in these gyms shooting on these rims hundreds of times. I was able to get here last night. So it was just fun to be in the city and be around familiarity."

Sykes might know the gym and the city, but he's still working on people knowing much about him. Coming from a mid-major that didn't get the same national exposure as teams in the Big Ten, ACC or Big 12, he's got a lot to teach people about his game. And having met with zero teams prior to Thursday, he considered that five-on-five scrimmage his chance to impress the NBA executives watching.

"I really liked the five-on-five today because it gave us an inside look at how you're going to play, how you're going to play under a coach, how you're against players in the summer league, how you're going to run different types of sets," he said. "The NBA game, it's structured, but it's not as structured as college basketball where your coach is directing you. They let you play.

"Today was my interview, I think, just playing out there. A lot of these guys got 20 interviews. I told them, 'My interview is 2 o'clock today when I go out there and play.' So I don't really look at the interviews. I'm pretty sure I'll have a ton of team workouts because I'm in the middle of the pack. A lot of teams are skeptical and don't know about me, so they're going to want to find out about me."

This is hardly the end of the draft process. In the upcoming month, all these prospects and more will have individual meetings and workouts with a variety of NBA teams as those franchises decide where to steer their futures with a selection or two.

In expected move, Bulls name Tomas Satoransky starter over Kris Dunn

In expected move, Bulls name Tomas Satoransky starter over Kris Dunn

In quite the clever move, the Bulls solved their so-called point guard controversy by renaming the position “lead guard.” This is a nod to Jim Boylen’s multi-ballhandler system.

Whatever it’s called, Tomas Satoransky will start in it for Thursday’s preseason finale and the Oct. 23 regular-season opener in Charlotte.

In an expected move, Boylen made that news official following Wednesday’s practice. Satoransky will start alongside Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Kris Dunn and Coby White will come off the bench.

“I’ve been happy with both of them. They’re both in good places. I think this is what’s best for our team, and I think it will be great for both of them individually,” Boylen said of Satoransky and Dunn. “Kris has to be kind of our defensive force in that second group. He can impact the game coming off the bench. He’s embraced it, I’ve spoken with him, and we had a good conversation about it. He’s all about winning, and I’m really proud of him.’’

Boylen cited Satoransky’s shooting ability to space the floor and quick and accurate decision-making as primary factors behind the decision. He reiterated the organization’s belief in Dunn, who had six steals and 11 deflections in last Friday’s preseason game in Indiana and can be a defensive force with the second unit.

“You know I’ve always said he’s a terrific kid. I’ve always said he’s for the team. I’ve always said he’s very coachable,” Boylen said of Dunn. “Those things haven’t changed how I feel about him and what he’s done. But I do think that he’s in a really good place. I do think he had some introspection and got some time away, and it was good for him. He said it, we’ve said it, he’s prepared to help the team win, and that’s his mindset. That’s what we need. We talked earlier in the year, it’s going to be about sharing and sacrifice, and he’s going to come off that bench and help us win.”

Barring foul trouble, Satoransky likely will play in the range of 30 to 32 minutes, while Dunn could be in the 18 to 22 minutes range. Boylen consistently has talked about the need for sacrifice for the Bulls to make the jump to a contending team.

The Bulls aggressively pursued Satoransky during July free agency, acquiring him in a sign-and-trade transaction with the Wizards and agreeing to a three-year, $30 million deal whose final season isn’t fully guaranteed. He quickly endeared himself to Boylen by not asking about starting during the recruiting period, merely saying he wanted to be a part of what the Bulls are building.

“I love the way he throws the ball ahead,” Boylen said. “I love his command of our offense already. He’s obviously a terrific shooter. He can play off those guys, he can play on the ball and off those guys and create space. Him and I have a real good connection and he’s got a really good feel. And I feel confident in him running that first group.”

Satoransky averaged 11.2 points and 6.6 assists in 46 starts at point guard for the Wizards last season after John Wall went down with a season-ending injury. He also started eight games at small forward. It’s this versatility that Boylen envisions using in a backcourt rotation that includes LaVine, Dunn and White.

“I’ve felt really good with them on the floor,” Satoransky said of minutes with the starters. “For me, it was getting used to every player, not only with certain lineups. But I felt really good, especially last game. I think we have a lot of shooters on the floor. That gives us an advantage and spacing to attack, especially for Zach. Hopefully we can continue to get better and have options there.

“I try to run the team, put them in the best position where they can succeed. Run with pace. Keep the spacing. Try to organize the team. That’s what I’ve been trying to do for my whole career. And do the little things. I think it’s expected for me to come up with energy on the defensive side. I’m trying to do that and compete for every ball.”

Boylen favorites Ryan Arcidiacono and Shaq Harrison also are available, as are Denzel Valentine and Chandler Hutchison, who has yet to play with a hamstring injury.

Dunn remains the team’s best on-ball perimeter defender and has returned to the Bulls saying and doing all the right things after an offseason of reflection that briefly involved him wanting a change of address. In fact, sources said in July that the Bulls held substantial trade talks centered on Dunn, at one point trying to re-acquire Justin Holiday from the Grizzlies in a sign-and-trade transaction.

Instead, Dunn reported to September voluntary workouts with a strong work ethic and clear mind. He has drawn raves from coaches and teammates alike for his team-first attitude.

“We’re developing Coby White as a basketball player,” Boylen said. “We’re not going to put him in this situation where he’s a 1, he’s a 2 or he’s a 3, he’s a this, he’s a that. He’s a basketball player; he’s a baller. He plays well off other people. He plays well with the ball in his hands. He plays well off a live catch. He can run pick-and-roll. He has positional size, toughness, physicality. Not concerned about somebody saying he needs to be this or that, he just needs to play.”

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Jason Goff to join NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls coverage team

USA Today

Jason Goff to join NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls coverage team

Chicago, IL (October 16, 2019) – NBC Sports Chicago - THE NEW, EXCLUSIVE HOME FOR EVERY BULLS GAME - has announced Chicago sports media personality/NBA expert JASON GOFF will be joining the network as host of Bulls Pregame Live/Bulls Postgame Live beginning this season.  The announcement was made by Kevin Cross, Senior Vice President/General Manager, NBC Sports Chicago.

Goff’s first official appearance on NBC Sports Chicago takes place on Wednesday, October 23 for the network’s multi-platform coverage of the 2019-20 NBA SEASON OPENER, as the Bulls travel to face the Eastern Conference rival Charlotte Hornets (an expanded, one-hour Opening Night edition of Bulls Pregame Live presented by Coors Light begins at 5:00 PM CT, Bulls-Hornets tip-off at 6:00 PM, Bulls Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois immediately follows the game).  NOTE: Every Bulls game will also stream live on NBCSportsChicago.com and the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app.  

In addition to his Bulls Pre/Postgame Live hosting duties, Goff will also make additional appearances throughout the season on a variety of NBC Sports Chicago’s programs and cross-platform portals, including SportsTalk Live and the network’s “Bulls Talk” podcast.  

“Jason is an impact player who joins our already outstanding Bulls content team,” said Cross.  “His deep knowledge and lifelong passion for the NBA, especially the Bulls, will benefit all of our fans on all of our platforms.  We couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming NBA season as the only home for Bulls basketball.”

“I’m looking forward to joining the NBC Sports Chicago team and the exceptional Bulls coverage we provide to Bulls fans all year round,” added Goff. “I was that kid watching Bulls games in his basement on SportsChannel and now I have a chance to help cultivate that same energy to Bulls fans old and new on NBC Sports Chicago, it’s just a dream come true.”

Goff, a native of Evanston, Ill., has been a fixture on the Chicago sports media scene for close to two decades.  After attending Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Goff began his sports broadcasting career at WSCR AM 670 “The Score” in 2000 and quickly escalated to become one of the station’s top producers.  In 2007, Goff was named producer of WSCR’s “The Boers and Bernstein Show,” a role he held through 2012 before leaving Chicago for Atlanta to become the WZGC-FM 92.3 “The Game” new full-time evening host, along with handling pre/postgame hosting duties on the Atlanta Hawks Radio Network.  Also, while in Atlanta, Goff was an integral part of SiriusXM NBA Radio’s national relaunch, as he hosted the station’s popular midday show featuring former NBA greats Sam Mitchell, Malik Rose, and Kenny Smith.

Goff returned to Chicago in 2014 as a primary host for national NBA shows on both SiriusXM NBA Radio and Bleacher Report on SiriusXM.  In 2015, Goff returned to WSCR and was named midday co-host with Matt Spiegel on “The Spiegel and Goff Show” and later moved to afternoons joining Dan Bernstein on “The Bernstein and Goff Show.”  Most recently, Goff continued hosting stints with SiriusXM NBA Radio, along with SiriusXM Big Ten Radio, and also with ESPN Radio’s “The Spain and Company Show” featuring host Sarah Spain, and the “GTL Show” featuring Goff, Taylor Twellman and Rachel Lindsay.  In addition, Goff has made numerous appearances local television appearances on WFLD-TV’s (Fox 32 Chicago) “The Final Word with Lou Canellis,” along with “Windy City Live” on WLS-TV (ABC 7 Chicago).

NBC Sports Chicago, a partnership between the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago White Sox (MLB) and the NBC Sports Group, features over 275 live pro games in high definition each year.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago delivers extensive pre/post-game coverage for its core pro team partners, as well as Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs multi-platform coverage, plus - local sports discussion programs that includes SportsTalk Live, and massive cross-platform coverage provided by the network’s growing digital platform, NBCSportsChicago.com, the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app, and its variety of fan-focused social media outlets. Fans can follow the network on Twitter via @NBCSChicago.  

NBC Sports Regional Networks is NBC Sports Group’s portfolio of nine regional networks that delivers more than 2,200 live sporting events and original content to more than 35 million homes. Aligned within Eastern and Western Divisions, the NBC Sports Regional Networks are: NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia +, NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Washington + and SNY; and NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago/NBC Sports Chicago+, and NBC Sports Northwest. For more information on NBC Sports Group properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios, headshots and logos, please visit www.NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com.