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Hamilton's eventual return in Thibodeau's hands

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Hamilton's eventual return in Thibodeau's hands

OKLAHOMA CITYAnother Bulls game, another game-time decision for Rip Hamilton, another DNP-CD. For those not versed in NBA jargon, the acronym stands for Did Not Play-Coachs Decision, and Hamiltons current situation might be the definition of it.

The veteran shooting guard has worked his way back from his right-shoulder injury and has been a full participant in team practices and shootarounds for the past week, yet he hasnt played. Contrary to popular belief, that decision isnt Hamiltons.

Whatever he wants. I know its one of those things where we dont really know the effect of getting hits. We did some three-on-three, but I told him Im comfortable with whatever he wants to do, if we need to get out there and shoot more or take a couple more hits, said Hamilton after Sundays loss to the Thunder. We take it a day at a time. We dont look at it being next week. Hopefully its next game, so well see.

Saturday day we did a little bit more, so its a little sore, but its a good sore. It wasnt a bad sore, he continued. My mindset is if I can shoot, I can play. Thats always been my mindset. If I can run up the court, Im cool to play. I was a little stubborn the first time, so I leave it up to Coach to put me out there when its time.

By he and Coach, Hamilton is referring to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. As much as Thibodeau wants to win regular-season games and have his full roster available to play, it appears that the reigning NBA Coach of the Year is more concerned with going into the playoffs healthy.

Well see tomorrow. Hes feeling pretty good, but I just want to make sure. I think we have to play this smart, Thibodeau said about Hamilton. Hes doing fine. Im the one. Hes raring to go, hes chomping at the bit.

But when it comes to Hamiltons partner in the Bulls starting backcourt, All-Star point guard Derrick Rose, thats another situation altogether.

Thibodeau was typically dismissive when asked about how much Roses absence affected the Bulls in Sundays atypical blowout defeatDerricks a great player, he said. Obviously wed prefer to have him, but we have more than enough.but Rose himself, while weary of questions about his recovery from a strained right groin, did exhibit a hint of concern about his immediate future this season.

Its the same thing every thing every day. Just trying to improve, running a little bit more and lifting weights, so if anything, I should be stronger than ever, the reigning league MVP said. Its up to me, so yeah, I think I am returning before the end of the regular season.

The most Im doing is lifting weights and stretching, trying to loosen up the scar tissue, he continued. My injury definitely is worse than he thought initially. Missing this amount of games definitely hurts, but if anything, Im hoping thats a blessing in disguise. The only positive thing I can look at is Im getting my rest.

At the same time, the 23-year-old remains confident that when he does return, the Bulls wont miss a beat.

Its going to take me a minute to get my rhythm back. Hopefully it takes me a game. That would be great, but well have to see, he said. Im not worried at all. Weve been together for a while now to now each others games. Me being out, just watching everybody, I know everybodys tendencies now, just being on the bench for this long and I think that we shouldnt have any problems.

Roses absence didnt mean the Thunder, led by peers and friends Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, took any pity on the Bulls Sunday.

We know its going to be tough for those guys without Derrick, but theyve been playing very well without him, winning some big games and we couldnt take them lightly, said Durant. John Lucas has been having a great run when Derrick Rose has been hurt, C.J. Watson, as well, so we just didnt want to take those guys for granted and we wanted to come out there and play as hard as we can, and see what happens.

Added Westbrook: It was tough. I know Derrick, if he was healthy, he would definitely come out and compete and wed definitely talk some trash in the summertime.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

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USA Today

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams. 

Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs? 

The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD. 

Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week? 

You can take a look here and see where they landed. 

Shaquille Harrison could improve the efficiency of Bulls bottom five defense

Shaquille Harrison could improve the efficiency of Bulls bottom five defense

The Phoenix Suns released guard Shaquille Harrison last week, and although it is not a move that will send shockwaves through the league, the Bulls picking up Harrison could be the exact type of move to help solve what ails them.

At 6-foot, 4-inches and with a long wingspan, Harrison would step in and likely be at least the second-best perimeter defender on the team behind Kris Dunn. And he is the type of player, when combined with a talent like Wendell Carter Jr. and/or Dunn, could help form the type of lineup that could have a transformative effect on the overall team defense.

Last season Harrison had a defensive rating of 109, this despite the fact that the Sun—as a team—had a defensive rating of 113.51, over four points worse than when Harrison was on the floor.

His best skill is his ability to “get skinny” around a screener, meaning that on defense, Harrison is adept at angling his body to get around players trying to screen him off his man:


The Bulls need more players who show Harrison’s effort level when navigating screens on defense, not just because it will make life easier on their rim protectors, but because they also need to make sure they continue adding players who lead by example on that end of the floor. A team as young as the Bulls needs to collect young talent who pride themselves on defense, and Harrison fits the part.

When it comes to offense, Harrison doesn’t have the most impressive profile, but his play on that end of the floor is similar to former Bull David Nwaba. Harrison is not even an average 3-point shooter  (23.1 percent from 3-point range), but he makes up for it in other ways.

His rebounding is an area of strength, and fitting in with his preference to bring physicality to his matchup, he is adept at getting to the free throw line.

Last year Harrison’s 30.6 percent free throw attempt rate would’ve been a top-five mark on the Bulls. But his low usage rate (18 percent) will likely be lower in Chicago, so the free throw numbers may fall. But with so many score-first players on the roster, Harrison will still be able to crash the glass against the many guards who forget to box out their man.

Offensive rebounding will be less of a focus for a Bulls team that wants to preach getting back on transition defense, but Harrison gives Fred Hoiberg a special player that can do both. Harrison will run back on defense to help create the “shell” that the best teams create to cut off easy forays to the rim, and then when his team gets the ball back and is on the fastbreak, he brings value as the “trailer” (trailing man on a fastbreak) even without shooting ability:

This signing could end up being a big one for the Bulls, however small it may seem now.

Around the league, more and more teams are starting to invest resources in multiple ball-handler offenses that negate the differences between point guard and shooting guard, making versatile back court defenders a must.

This will be evident when the Bulls take on the Dallas Mavericks in game No. 3 of the regular season, as Rick Carlisle's Mavericks feature Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic in an explosive offense that doesn't have a defined "lead" guard.

The Bulls will continue to attempt to curtail offense with a high-scoring back court duo when they take on the Charlotte Hornets in a back-to-back on October 26 and 27. If Harrison is worked into the rotation by then, expect to see Harrison and Dunn on the floor together to match up with Doncic and Smith respectively, but have the flexibility to switch defensive assignments on the fly. If Chicago's perimeter defense starts to offer significantly more resistance, it will allow quicker improvement from Carter and the rest of the Bulls bigs on the interior.

With Zach LaVine currently in the top-five in the NBA in points per game, Dunn returning and Lauri Markkanen getting healthy, the Bulls front office is slowly approaching the point where their team has enough players who are considered possible focal points of an offense.

To become a championship contender, you need to have that one player who is unequivocally a superstar capable of a heavy workload, and only time will tell if the Bulls already have that player or need to acquire him. But the other important factor in building a championship roster is having the elite-level role players who do the little things that make life easier for their teammates in all phases of the game, and Shaq Harrison is excellent prospect who fits that exact mold.