Things are off to a stellar start for the Windy City Bulls as the Chicago Bulls' new NBA D-League affiliate cruised to a 123-94 win over the Long Island Nets on Friday night.
Playing its home games at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates this season, Windy City jumped out to a 55-21 first-half lead and never looked back as forward J.J. Avila paced the team with 21 points. The former Colorado State product, who played for the Chicago Bulls during the preaseason, also added nine rebounds and six assists.
Seven Bulls finished in double-figures for the night, including all five starters, as Spencer Dinwiddie and Alec Brown each had 17 points. Dinwiddie also added a team-leading 11 assists while forward Alfonso McKinnie also had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Thomas Walkup played a solid overall floor game as he finished with 13 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds. R.J. Hunter and Wesley Saunders each finished with 10. Hunter, who is under NBA contract with the Chicago Bulls, struggled to a 3-for-13 night from the field as he was 2-for-9 from three-point range.
[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
An aggressive and uptempo Bulls offensive attack saw them shoot 55 percent (51-for-92) from the field for the night while the team's defense held the Nets to 41 percent (34-for-82) shooting.
The Nets, also playing their first ever game in the NBA D-League, were led by Beau Beech with 20 points.
Windy City's home opener also marked the debut of the team's mascot, Gus T. Bull, who the team says is a cousin of Chicago Bulls mascot Benny the Bull. Bulls front office members like Gar Foreman, John Paxon and Michael Reinsdorf were also in attendance at the Sears Centre to catch the team's first game.
One thing we know for sure about the 2020 NBA Draft: no team executives will be losing sleep on the eve of the lottery hoping to land the first or second pick like a year ago when the top prizes where generational power forward Zion Williamson and point guard extraordinaire Ja Morant.
Matter of fact, teams might prefer not to land one of the top three picks so they can pay less guaranteed money to a player who may not have a huge impact,
As we get closer to the start of conference tournaments around the country, no player has really distinguished himself as the clear cut No. 1 choice. Georgia’s Anthony Edwards gets credit for being available to play all season, but his poor shooting percentages from the field and the 3-point line for a bad college team hardly scream top overall pick.
Injuries and eligibility questions have kept a few of the top prospects off the court, so NBA executives will put more emphasis than ever on the information they gather during the draft combine and individual workouts.
Here’s a snapshot at where things stand in late February with our fourth mock draft.
The Bulls' injury housekeeping continues.
After Wednesday afternoon practice, Jim Boylen ruled out Otto Porter Jr. (foot), Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle), Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) and Denzel Valentine (hamstring) for Thursday night's matchup with the Charlotte Hornets.
Porter (full) and Carter (limited) both participated in practice. Carter had repeatedly expressed a desire to return in the Bulls' first game out of the break, but it appears he's not quite there yet.
While Boylen said he hasn't decided on starters for the Hornets game yet, he made a point to add that Daniel Gafford has "got his legs back" and that his rim protection will be much-needed to remedy the team's precipitous defensive slide — in five games since Kris Dunn went down with an MCL sprain, they're dead last in the NBA in defensive rating (123.2).
Hutchison had filled in nicely for Dunn over the five games leading up to the All-Star break, but something evidently re-flared up in the shoulder that caused him to miss 17 games between November and January of this season. With 19 appearances in a row dating back to Jan. 6, Hutchison was one game away from matching his career high for consecutive games played. Alas.
"We have struggled with new guys playing and some of our experienced guys not out there. So, we will just keep hammering away at it," Boylen said of the team's recent defensive woes. "I think we all know our system is solid and been productive, but personnel is a big part of that. So, we'll just keep working on our guys in that system and keep trying to perfect it."
This news dump comes on the heels of a report from the Bulls this morning that extended Dunn's reevaluation timeline to four-to-six weeks after an MRI and reexamination on his right knee on Feb. 14. The Bulls get the benefit of three straight under-.500 opponents (Hornets, Suns, Wizards) out of the break, but if guys don't start getting back soon, matters could devolve.
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