Bulls

Who are the top 10 small forwards in the league?

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Who are the top 10 small forwards in the league?

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010
11:53 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

A historic summer for the NBA has passed and for the Bulls, while they didn't acquire quite the star power many expected andor hoped for, optimism runs high, both within the organization and throughout the team's fan base. With the offseason coming to an end, the time to fully delve into the upcoming NBA season is here. Instead of a traditional season preview, issues both throughout the league and in Chicago will be probed daily here on CSNChicago.com up until the squad officially convenes for training camp toward the end of September.

8. Who are the top 10 small forwards in the league?

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat (2009-10 averages: 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 50.3 field-goal percentage, 33.3 three-point percentage in 76 games): Even if his scoring numbers slightly decrease, don't be shocked if "King James" averages a triple-double as a Magic Johnson-Oscar Robertson hybrid in his new place of residence and confirms his status as the NBA's best player in retaliation for the continued backlash he's endured.

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (2009-10 averages: 30.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 47.6 field-goal percentage, 36.5 three-point percentage in 82 games): Still 21, Durant might not be quite ready to take over the crown as the league's top dog, but his exploits in the World Championships demonstrate he's the game's best pure scorer and the Thunder could be prepared to take the next step.

3. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets (2009-10 averages: 28.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 45.8 field-goal percentage, 31.6 three-point percentage in 69 games): A byproduct of Anthony's statuses as an upcoming free agent and reported relocation desires will be increased scrutiny and a judgment on whether he's fit to lead a team to the promised land -- regardless of what city he's in.

4. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics (2009-10 averages: 18.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 47.2 field-goal percentage, 41.4 three-point percentage in 71 games): Pierce is no longer dominant on a nightly basis, but "The Truth" still capable of taking over individual games and serving as the front man for an aging Boston band's last few tours.

5. Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats (2009-10 averages: 18.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 48.4 field-goal percentage, 37.1 three-point percentage in 76 games): Never the prettiest player, under the tutelage of Larry Brown, the relentless Wallace has rounded out his game, upgraded his perception around the league and led the Bobcats to their first-ever postseason appearance.

6. Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers (2009-10 averages: 24.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 42.8 field-goal percentage, 36.1 three-point percentage in 62 games): Considered to be on the cusp of elite the season before last, a disappointing campaign put the onus on Granger to improve -- defense and shot selection, in particular -- especially after a humbling national-team experience.

7. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies (2009-10 averages: 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 46.6 field-goal percentage, 32.7 three-point percentage in 80 games): Armed with a hefty contract extension that raised eyebrows around the league, Gay, coming off a productive summer with USA Basketball, will be expected to take his game -- and team -- to the next level.

8. Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls (2009-10 averages: 17.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 46.6 field-goal percentage, 38.6 three-point percentage in 70 games): Taking more of a background role on a team capable of taking things a step or two further in the postseason might actually help Deng receive much-deserved credit for his quiet and polished game.

9. Caron Butler, Dallas Mavericks (2009-10 averages: 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.6 steals, 42.8 field-goal percentage, 29.0 three-point percentage in 74 games): Adjusting to the Mavericks after years of immense freedom in Washington has been a process, but he's still one of the more versatile and dangerous players at his position.

10. Corey Maggette, Milwaukee Bucks (2009-10 averages: 19.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 51.6 field-goal percentage, 26.0 three-point percentage in 70 games): Maggette is one of the league's top gunners, but perhaps the prospect of playing for the Bucks, who have the potential to make a deep playoff run, persuades him to be more team-oriented, while still contributing his scoring prowess.

Next 10 (in alphabetical order):

Ron Artest, Los Angeles Lakers: Artest is no longer the all-around threat he was last decade, but his toughness, lockdown defense, timeliness in the clutch and ability to blend into the team concepts are major reasons the Lakers won the title.
Trevor Ariza, New Orleans Hornets: Ariza wasn't exactly a great fit in Houston, but playing alongside Chris Paul should afford him plenty of easy opportunities to succeed, as his athleticism and defense are attributes the Hornets have long desired.
Wilson Chandler, New York Knicks: Although Chandler often flies under the radar, his athleticism, slashing style and high motor have earned him respect in the Big Apple.
Danilo Gallinari, New York Knicks: While the young Italian needs to round out his game, his uncanny combination of size, deep range and deceiving toughness will continue to be a centerpiece of the Knicks' attempted resurgence.
Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs: Hopefully Jefferson's abysmal debut with the Spurs will be a distant memory with the opportunity to fully adjust and the security of a surprising contract extension.
Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz: The versatile Kirilenko will be forced to produce like the "AK-47" of old if Utah is expected to remain among the West's elite following a summer of player turnover.
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons: After an injury-riddled season, Prince should return to a semblance of his old form on a more consistent basis, but whether or not he finishes the season in Detroit is a different story.
Hedo Turkoglu, Phoenix Suns: Playing in the freedom of Phoenix's offense -- and with Steve Nash -- should enable Turkoglu to bounce back from a disaster of a season in Toronto.
Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams, who started his rookie campaign slow and ended it strong, may actually playing both backcourt positions, but his versatility and athleticism could allow for more favorable mismatches at the three.
Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers: Despite regressing a bit last season, Young has all the tools to thrive in a new system -- and his natural position -- under new Sixers coach Doug Collins.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Options if the Bulls trade down: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura

Options if the Bulls trade down: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura

On draft night, there is a decent possibility that the Bulls front office looks at their draft board and collectively decide that they can get a player with No. 7 pick value later in the first round. They could be inclined to feel this way more than in most years due to the 2019 draft class being such a toss up after the top three picks. If the Bulls traded down in the draft, I am assuming they would be netting a valuable future first-round pick, likely with some minimal protections. In this series, we will be looking at prospects the Bulls could take should they trade down in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Rui Hachimura per The Stepien:

71 percent at the rim

44.2 percent on short midrange

47.6 percent on long midrange

52.1 percent on NBA 3s (12/23)

Boylen talked a ton this season about “toughness” being a key tenet of the new Bulls culture moving forward. The idea of that “toughness” didn’t translate on the court heavily, though the Bulls did improve slightly in rebound rate under Boylen.

From the time for Boylen took over, the Bulls ranked 14th in defensive rebound rate and 25th in total rebound rate, up from 16th and 28th respectively under Hoiberg. Those numbers are a bit of smoke-and-mirrors with all the factors at play this past (weird) Bulls season.

But Boylen did have a much heavier focus on generating points inside first, with the team ranking third in the league in points in the paint per game during his tenure. Rui Hachimura fits in extremely well with the idea of the Bulls punishing teams inside with low-post scoring depth, resulting in open looks on the perimeter.

Hachimura stands 6-feet-8-inches tall, 230 lbs., with a 7-foot-2-inch wingspan. He is a very physical player and utilizes his wingspan incredibly well in traffic. Hachimura posted a 17.4 percent defensive rebound rate over his three-years at Gonzaga. I mentioned above how Hachimura embraces contact and his career average of 7.5 free throw attempts per 40 minutes helps showcase his ability to be a wrecking ball in the paint.

He has the potential to excel as a small-ball center with the right personnel surrounding him. The fact that he can grab a defensive board and initiate the fastbreak makes him an even more valuable prospect. But when you consider that lineups with he and Markkanen as the two bigs on the floor would have five capable ball-handlers, the idea of Rui in Chicago becomes even more enticing.

Overall, Hachimura is a great prospect with a solid skill set that should allow him to be a decent scorer from day one, it all just depends on how much of an opportunity he gets.

The Bulls--as John Paxson has reiterated many, many times now--feel comfortable with the starters they have at the two, three, four and five positions, with point guard being their main area of weakness. While the Bulls don’t necessarily need another big, they do need to add productive players who are young. With Boylen’s emphasis on having multiple ball-handlers, driving the ball and points in the paint, Hachimura would be a logical selection, though No. 7 overall could be a bit of a reach for the 21-year old big.

His defense definitely has a long way to go--as with most NBA draft prospects--but Hachimura’s situation is unique since he literally had a language barrier to overcome when he first got to Gonzaga in 2017. The belief right now is that Hachimura is in a comfortable spot right now in terms of both speaking and understanding English, as reporting from Sam Vecine of the The Athletic (LINK is behind a paywall) and others has backed up.

With that being said, the Japanese forward still makes too many mistakes on the defensive end of the floor to be a surefire top 10 pick.

He is at his core an offensive-minded player, and as a result has not exactly developed much in the way of defensive intensity over the years. Hachimura averaged 0.6 steals per game and 0.5 blocks per game for his NCAA career.

For comparison’s sake, his steal and block rates are almost identical to Marvin Bagley III during his time at Duke. Bagley had a highly productive rookie season with the Kings--landing a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First-Team--but the Kings defense was still four points worse when he was on the floor per cleaningtheglass.com ($).

Despite having similar measurements to Bagley, I don’t believe that Hachimura posses quite the level of athleticism that Bagley does, making his path to becoming an above average defender that much harder.

Ultimately, if Hachimura’s awesome shooting numbers from NBA 3-point range (41.7 percent) on a small sample size (36 attempts) aren’t smoke-and-mirrors, he will greatly outplay his draft position. Hachimura shot 52.1 percent on his NBA range 3-pointers and also has a career 74.6 percent free throw percentage. Whether he was diving to the rim on pick-and-rolls with Lauri spacing the floor, or playing in a high/low offense with another big on the bench unit, there is a clear path to Hachimura being effective in Chicago. It would just take a ton of patience from the Bulls new-look coaching staff.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bulls need a point guard. The Bears Top 100 list continues

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bulls need a point guard. The Bears Top 100 list continues

0:00- Will Perdue drops by to talk hoops. What will the Bulls do this summer to address their point guard need?

7:00- The Bulls need a point guard. Derrick Rose is a free agent. Should they bring him back home?

11:30- Carman says the Bulls should consider trading for Lonzo Ball. Kap yells at him.

16:30- Will talks about this year's playoffs and if anybody will be the Warriors?

20:00- The Bears Top 100 list continues to dominate discussion. Chris makes the case for Jay Cutler to be higher. He gets yelled at.

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