Bulls

Vincent Goodwill's 2015 NBA mock draft

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Vincent Goodwill's 2015 NBA mock draft

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky: He said he hasn’t received a promise but it’s gonna happen. He’ll be paired as a cornerstone with Andrew Wiggins and begin a Towns-Okafor debate for years to come.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke: Has the more pro-ready skill set (offensive polish) than Towns but as custom, questions start flowing the closer we get to D-Day. Unless they’re trading for DeMarcus Cousins, it’s hard to see them passing him up to take a perimeter player.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

D’Angelo Russell, PG, Ohio State: If there was a talented but injured player available, the 76ers would take him and hit the reset button on the ever-present tanking process. But Russell can get to the basket with ease and in a point-guard centric league, they’d be foolish to pass him up.

4. New York Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia: Taking the best player available doesn’t fly much when an organizational philosophy is “who fits best in the triangle”. Here’s believing the Knicks buy into the hype about his versatility and shooting, because he’s an urban legend at this point.

5. Orlando Magic

Mario Hezonja, F, Croatia: Here’s where there’s some intrigue. If they didn’t have Elfrid Payton, could see them taking Emmanuel Mudiay but considering Hezonja has been noted as a good shooter and they need floor spacers with Payton and Victor Oladipo attacking the basket.

6. Sacramento Kings

Justise Winslow, SF, Duke: Improving shooter who can get better with more fluid mechanics. His end-to-end activity is something that could intrigue coach George Karl, but let’s be honest: nobody knows what the Kings are gonna do. Not even the Kings.

7. Denver Nuggets

Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China: If the Nuggets are indeed shopping point guard Ty Lawson, it means they’re open to selecting a point guard and he’s a sharp contrast from the incumbent. In other drafts he’d be a top four selection and still could, which is why the Nuggets won’t pass him up if he’s here.

8. Detroit Pistons

Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona: Word has it Johnson wants to go to Detroit or Miami, and the Pistons have a huge hole at small forward. His athleticism will be necessary in Motown, although you wonder if the Pistons will look for shooting in Sam Dekker or even Hezonja if he’s there.

9. Charlotte Hornets

Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky: Here’s where some fun really begins because the trades will start flowing. Charlotte will be listening but Booker is probably going to be the best shooter on the board at that time. The Hornets just moved Lance Stephenson and they need shooting around Al Jefferson.

10.  Miami Heat

Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin: Here’s a uneducated hunch, Miami will move this pick to Boston, a team desperate to move into the top 10. The Heat want more cap space to handle the Dwyane Wade saga, so dumping this will help. If they keep it, Dekker is an excellent shooter and floor-spacer for a team building around it, still.

11. Indiana Pacers

Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky: Top-5 talent, big time questions. Orlando could take him as early as five but the questions about his maturity will cause him to slip. But Indiana, looking to replace the underwhelming Roy Hibbert, will take the chance and hope a veteran locker room keeps a talented defensive big on track.

12.  Utah Jazz

Myles Turner, PF, Texas: A stretch four can be what turns the Jazz into a playoff team, considering their strong finish to last season. But if they’re not in love with their point guard combo of Dante Exum-Trey Burke, could they take Cameron Payne from Murray State?

13. Phoenix Suns

Frank Kaminsky, PF, Wisconsin: A common question is how much room does Kaminsky have left to grow? True, but at worst he can be a solid backup for the Suns behind Alex Len and maybe even a complement to Len if they play big.  He can stretch the floor with decent NBA range.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder

Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky: A prime candidate to trade all the way out of the first round because of their already-complete roster, Lyles would still be a decent fit to a stacked frontline. He’s thought to go anywhere from 7 to 18, and he appears to either be a victim of fit or beneficiary of best talent on the board.

15. Atlanta Hawks

Kelly Oubre, F, Kansas: Surprising he’ll still be on the board but he’s athletic and long, which is what the Hawks could use given their lack of it on the wings. Can get to the basket and finish.

16. Boston Celtics

Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State: Best player on the board regardless of need, and even though Boston isn’t in need of a point guard, another shot creator is always in vogue.

17. Milwaukee Bucks

Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas: A rebounder, shot blocker and floor stretcher. The Bucks have that in spades and appear to be in more want of it to go along with scorers Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton.

18.  Houston Rockets

Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame: The Rockets could use an actual ballhandler instead of putting everything on James Harden, and Grant can handle the pick and roll, a Rockets staple. Could go higher but could fall to the Bulls at 22.

19. Washington Wizards

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona: A tough name to evaluate considering how much he’s affected the way teams look at him due to impressive workouts. But the Wizards need more wing help with Paul Pierce likely opting out, setting up a battle between Hollis-Jefferson and emerging Otto Porter.

20. Toronto Raptors

R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State: Hunter could go anywhere from 14 to a few picks left in the first round, but his shooting could make him a higher pick than his skill set could claim.

21. Dallas Mavericks

Tyus Jones, PG, Duke: Everyone knows the Mavericks are looking for point guard help and Jones could be the best on the board. Jones could be operating on a promise from the Rockets but that could be without knowing Payne is on the board. If Jones is here…

22. Chicago Bulls

Rashad Vaughn, G, UNLV: Hearing the Bulls like Vaughn and scouts love his confidence and ability to score. Considering the Bulls could play smaller this season, they’ll need more shooting on the floor and another shot creator. Vaughn could be their guy.

23. Portland Trailblazers

Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA: Looney is an excellent offensive rebounder but he is still raw compared to his contemporaries. Portland likes length and Looney can get up and down the floor.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers

Delon Wright, PG, Utah: A combo guard who’s solid enough to play alongside Kyrie Irving in a pinch or take over point guard duties for decent stretches. If Cleveland is smart, they’ll be looking for a real backup not named Matthew Dellavedova.

25. Memphis Grizzlies

Montrezl Harrel, PF, Louisville: Good athlete but Louisville players haven’t made huge marks in the league. Perhaps slightly undersized but a decent change of pace from the ground and pound style of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

26. San Antonio Spurs

Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia: A candidate to be taken in the early 20’s, Anderson is a “3 and D” guy who’ll likely find his niche as an outsider shooter and role-filler, something the Spurs always seem to never get enough of.

27. Los Angeles Lakers

Joseph Young, SG, Oregon: Depending on what they do with the second pick, they could be looking for more backcourt help in preparation for Kobe Bryant’s departure. Young is a shooter, one of the best in the draft.

28. Boston Celtics

Jarell Martin, PF, LSU: The Celtics have no problem drafting hard-playing guys without a true position of players too short for traditional NBA standards. Enter Martin, who’s a better athlete than many on the Celtics roster.

29. Brooklyn Nets

Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville: Can finish and get to the lane with ease despite not being the best point guard prospect. They’ll need another lead guard in Brooklyn, though.

30.  Golden State Warriors

Chris McCullough, PF, Syracuse: McCullough won’t play this season, recovering from an ACL injury, which gives him time to rehab and develop at his own pace without the pressure of having to contribute immediately.

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Picture yourself at 19 years old.

Maybe you were in college. Maybe you hit the job market early.

What you likely weren’t doing was guarding one the NBA’s best centers in your first professional game.

That was the task charged to Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls’ 127-108 loss to the 76ers in the season opener at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday.

Carter Jr. was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft after just one season at Duke. He earned the start in his NBA debut after an impressive preseason, but nothing could’ve prepared him for going up against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Carter Jr. said when asked if Embiid was as impressive as he thought he’d be. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of, or the best, big man in the league. Very skilled, very poised. He knows his spots on the court.

“I didn’t go out there with my best effort. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Carter Jr. had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in 20 minutes. He also picked up four fouls, which the rookie attributed to the physicality and craftiness of Embiid.

But he did flash the impressive and varied skill set that made him a high pick and such a coveted prospect. He was also able to garner the praise of the Bulls’ veterans.

“Even though Wendell got in foul trouble he was still playing (Embiid) solid,” Zach LaVine, who scored a team-high 30 points, said. “That’s a tough first game right there. But he didn’t lack for confidence. Made him take some tough shots, but he’s going to make them. He’s that type of player.”

To his credit, Carter Jr. was candid about his performance. He admitted that his emotions ran the gamut from nervous to excited to happy.

In a season that will have its ups and downs as the young Bulls develop and learn, there will likely be more games like this against other elite NBA competition. It’ll be how Carter Jr. responds that will define his career.

“It’s the first game so I don’t want to put too much on myself,” Carter Jr. said. “It would be different if it was like the 50th game or 60th game. It’s the first game. We’re just going to move on from it. We’ve got our home opener on Saturday (vs. the Pistons). That’s where my mind is right now.”

See, he’s learning already.

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

The Bulls backup point guard situation will be in dire straits all season, with no established veteran behind Kris Dunn. And although the front office has seemingly committed to Cameron Payne as the backup PG (for at least this season), Ryan Arcidiacono showed enough in the season opener to justify giving him meaningful plying time in the rotation. 

Here are the stat lines of Arcidiacono and Cameron Payne from the season opener in Philadelphia:

Arcidiacono: 8 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 from the 3-point line

Payne:           0 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 from the 3-point line

With so many capable ball handlers and score-first players on the Bulls, point and assist totals aren’t as important as the rebounds and 3-point attempts. To provide the necessary space needed for driving lanes, there has to be openings in the defense caused by defenders sticking close to player they believe are a threat to shoot.

And that is where the problem lies with Payne.

Ryan Arcidiacono—while by no means a dominant scorer—showed a willingness to attack off of the pick-and-roll, even showing off an impressive ball-fake:


Payne, despite coming into the league with the reputation of a scorer, has yet to be aggressive enough to make teams think twice about leaving him wide-open on the perimeter. And he is not one to attack the basket with purpose, averaging less than half a free throw per game for his career. Payne's general lack of aggressiveness when on the floor is often times made worse by his occasional poor post entry passes that seem predetermined:

Even if the above play was designed to get the ball to LaVine in the mid-post, Payne chooses a terrible time to make the pass. When he starts the motion to give the ball to LaVine, Ben Simmons is positioned in front of LaVine to force a tougher pass, as rookie Landry Shamet gambles over the backside to get the steal.

Had Payne chose to swing the ball around the perimeter, or give it to Bobby Ports and then get it back, he could have created an opening for the LaVine pass.

Obviously, the Bulls 19-point loss can’t be blamed on solely on Payne, the terrible defense was a group effort, as was the sometimes questionable shot selection. But with the defense already appearing to be perhaps one of the league's worst units, Fred Hoiberg would be wise to put Arcidiacono in more.

Hoiberg is in a crucial year where he needs to show that he can be the head coach of this team when they finally become competitive.

And for Hoiberg to show that type of growth as a coach, he needs to set the tone that minutes are earned not given, something he has already started with his moving of Jabari Parker to the bench. Payne only received 22 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for Arcidiacono, and it is tough to see that changing if things continue on like they did on Thursday night.