Duke

Admitted promise or not, the Bulls knew they wanted Chandler Hutchison – and they got him

Admitted promise or not, the Bulls knew they wanted Chandler Hutchison – and they got him

Neither John Paxson nor Chandler Hutchison himself would admit to what many called the worst kept secret in the pre-draft process. So whether you believe the Boise State senior had a promise from the Bulls that they would select him with the 22nd pick if still available, what Paxson and Gar Forman made clear was that they wanted Hutchison. And they got him.

“There are storylines and rumors all the time in this business and to keep trying to respond to them is often difficult. We liked Chandler a lot,” John Paxson said at the Advocate Center. We scouted him early, we scouted him often and we had our eye on him. He knew we liked him. Most players know when you like them, if you show up a lot and you’re around.”

There was plenty to like. Hutchison blossomed as an upperclassman at Boise State - after a unique basketball upbringing - averaging 18.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in his final two seasons with the Broncos. His 6-foot-7 NBA-ready frame kept him closer to the basket, leading to the efficient scoring and a blistering 72 percent at the rim, but keeping him a work in project on the perimeter.

He projects as a plus-defender who can defend on the wing and on the block in small-ball lineups and, as a four-year college player, should find minutes in a wing-depleted rotation. Put another way: he’s versatile at a position the Bulls have needed since the day Jimmy Butler walked out the door. Any shooting will be an added bonus.

But was there a promise, Chandler?

“I didn’t have any guarantee on where I was going," he said. "It could have been anywhere. Honestly, my heart was racing from 15 on. It was an exciting moment, though.”

The Bulls drafting Hutchison kept the theme of the night in Chicago trending after they took Wendell Carter 7th overall: complementary pieces to help an improving roster. Where Hutchison excels – physicality, scoring at the rim, defending multiple positions – the players he’ll share the floor with don’t. It’s easier to hide Denzel Valentine, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen defensively with a physical perimeter threat.

Paxson and Forman mentioned Hutchison's “slashing” multiple times, and that physical, quick style will help a Bulls offense that ranked 28th in the NBA on shots 5 feet and in. That inefficiency was one of the major reasons the team finished 28th efficiency and often struggled to find secondary scoring.

That versatility spans more than just defending, too. Hutchison was asked to become a do-it-all for a Broncos team whose second leading scorer averaged 11.8 points, second leading rebounder averaged 6.6 boards and second leading passer averaged 2.6 assists. Hutchinson did it all for the 23-win Broncos. His usage rate was 33.0, 10th highest in the country and a slight tick above Alabama point guard Collin Sexton (32.5%). His passing, shot creating and eventual shooting make him a Swiss army knife on the wing.

“We think he can put it on the floor and create. He got to the lane a lot as a ball handler. His shot is getting better and better, we think he’ll be able to shoot it from NBA range at some point but that’s an area he’ll have to continue to work on,” Paxson said. “The more guys you have that can handle and create and pass, with the way our game is and the way our floor is spaced, we think he can do those things.”

Promises aside – Hutchison is represented by Chicago-based Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, who has plenty of ties to the Bulls – Hutchison checked all the boxes the Bulls were looking for, especially after they passed on wings like Mikal Bridges and Kevin Knox with the 7th pick.

“He addresses a position of need,” Paxson said. “We had debates all through this draft on wings and the type of player we wanted at that position. He fits.”

Why Duke's Wendell Carter is the man to anchor the Bulls' defense

Why Duke's Wendell Carter is the man to anchor the Bulls' defense

Wendell Carter Jr. committed to Duke in November 2016, the No. 3 recruit in the country and the prized possession of the Blue Devils’ latest historic recruiting class. Nine months later, just weeks before Carter’s freshman season began, Marvin Bagley – the top prospect in 2018 – announced his decision to both commit to Duke and reclassify to 2017.

In a flash, Carter went from the top recruit on his team to second fiddle in his own backcourt. Headed for a major role following the departures of Harry Giles, Amile Jefferson and Jayson Tatum the year prior, Carter settled for a role out of the spotlight and eventually the fifth scoring option.

He still flourished. While Bagley rightfully received the accolades – ACC Player of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year, All-American – Carter held his own and was a key cog for the Blue Devils during their 29-win, Elite Eight season. He doesn’t have the height or raw athleticism of the bigs who likely will be selected before him on June 21. He does, however, possess a skill set built for today’s game that will take him off the board somewhere in the Lottery, if not the first 10 picks.

You’ll read about comparisons to Al Horford in the coming paragraphs. Here’s why. Horford measured at the 2007 Combine at 6-foot-9.75 (Carter is 6-foot-10), weighed 246 pounds (Carter is 251), had an 8-foot-11 standing reach (Carter’s is 9-foot-1) and a 7-foot-1 wingspan (Carter’s is 7-foot-4.5). Carter’s game is a little more like the current Horford’s, but in college both players shared the frontcourt spotlight with similar bouncy power forwards: Joakim Noah for Horford and the aforementioned Bagley for Carter.

Carter was fifth on a loaded Duke team in field goal attempts (319). His ability to get to the free throw line (4.6; second to Bagley) and his passing acumen (2.0 assists) helped him finish second on the Blue Devils in usage rate (22.8%; second to Bagley). He was a model of efficiency, shooting 56.1% from the field and 41.3% from beyond the arc, just one of four players in the country to reach those thresholds.

The 3-point shooting came on only 46 attempts, but Carter looked comfortable more often than not from the top of the key, where 40 of his 46 shots came from. He’s a non-factor in the midrange game, but he’s more than comfortable spotting up from beyond the arc. Plus, Horford was 0-for-4 in three years at Florida; last year in Boston he made 97 triples. Carter is ahead of the curve already.

Carter has impressive footwork but that didn’t translate to his post-up numbers, as he averaged a pedestrian 0.753 points per possessions, far worse than Horford’s mark (1.056) at Florida. Still, Carter’s 1.06 overall PPP ranked in the 90th percentile thanks to that outside shooting and his work on the glass – also, his post game is better than those number suggest.

Carter had an offensive rebounding rate of 12.8%, higher than Mo Bamba (12.2%) and Jaren Jackson (8.7%). That impressive mark – all while battling with Bagley for boards – was higher than Horford’s 12.2% mark.

Carter made good on those offensive rebounds, scoring 99 points on 68 possessions. That 1.456 PPP ranked in the 94th percentile and was better than Mamba’s 1.338 PPP. He’s a terror inside and as he improves his post-up game will be a jack of all trades.

Carter’s defense is a little more difficult to analyze. He was the anchor of the Blue Devils’ 2-3 zone that transformed their season, so many of his 1-on-1 numbers are skewed. From the limited data we do have, however, Carter was dominant. He ranked in the 97th percentile nationally in post-up situations and the 87th percentile defending around the basket. Carter did the heavy lifting defensively, whereas Horford deferred to Noah in Gainesville. Carter’s 7.6% block rate was higher than Horford’s 6.7%. For reference, likely No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton had a 61.% block rate. It was a solid number for Carter, especially considering he played zone so often and had less opportunity to block shots.

Again, it’s tough to draw anything from those numbers, but make no mistake: Carter is an excellent defender. His 9-foot-1 standing reach and 7-foot-4.5 wingspan are plenty big, and his 251-pound frame is larger than players like Jaren Jackson (236), Mo Bamba (226). He may not have the 7-foot height but Jackson is plenty capable of defending the interior. It’ll be his most NBA-ready trait.

Like many of the bigs in this class, Carter is a perfect complement to Lauri Markkanen if the Bulls use the No. 7 pick on him. Though Markkanen shows promise as an agile defender capable of defending pick-and-rolls, he would be best utilized with a rim protector. That’s Carter, whose 7.6% block percentage was 24th in the country among players at or above 60% of their team’s minutes.

Carter spoke to reporters at the Bulls’ practice facility after his private workout and touted his defensive versatility. It’s true, that he’ll hang his hat on what he can accomplish as a rim protector. If he can clean up the glass and improve as a 3-point shooter it’ll be an added bonus. The comparisons to Horford are real. He won’t make it at the next level if he’s simply overpowered by more athletic bigs on both sides of the ball. He doesn’t leap out of the gym and isn’t overly quick, despite the good footwork.

The Bulls should bet on him. They’ve focused on offense in each of the last six drafts. Now’s the time to shore up the defense. There are a surplus of wings waiting in the 18-22 area for the Bulls to address the position then. It’s no longer a big man’s league, but when one with such an impressive skill set that also fills a need presents himself, you simply can’t pass on him.

Adaptability, athleticism make Grayson Allen intriguing NBA Draft prospect

Adaptability, athleticism make Grayson Allen intriguing NBA Draft prospect

Part of the acclimation process many college athletes go through upon entering the league is finding their specific role. Players who are months removed from being the go-to players on their respective college teams enter an organization that’s looking for a role player, a lockdown defender, a scorer on the second unit, maybe even a project. It can be tough for said players to accept that after being alphas on a national stage that led them to the point of being drafted. It’s also something Grayson Allen will have no problem adjusting to.

A rare senior with first-round potential (two seniors were taken in Round 1 last year, at 29 and 30), Allen has had the opportunity and burden of playing on four supremely talented Duke teams. But unlike the Shane Battiers and Mike Dunleavys that came through Durham in the early ‘00s, Allen watched one-and-dones cycle through the program and it subsequently changed Allen’s role on the team.

Consider this: In his time at Duke Allen played with nine different players who have appeared in the NBA – Okafor, Cook, Winslow, Jones, Ojeleye, Plumlee, Ingram, Kennard, Tatum. Two others, Frank Jackson and Harry Giles, were selected last year but sat with injuries. Then take Allen’s current teammates who will be taken at some point: Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Tre Duval and Gary Trent and there are 15 different NBA players who Allen shared the floor with at Duke.

Allen was tasked with being the go-to scorer as a sophomore, but his attempts decreased in his junior and senior seasons as he shared point-guard duties for teams without a real identity at the position; Jackson and Duval were both underwhelming in their lone seasons with the Blue Devils. Allen’s assists per game and assist percentage jumped up as his scoring decreased, though he still managed 15.0 points on 37 percent shooting from deep in his final two years.

“Each year I’ve been at Duke I’ve had to score in different spots and I think that has helped me so much,” he said Thursday at the NBA Draft Combine. “Playing with extremely talented guys that I had to adjust scoring in different spots to add to my game, that makes me more ready. I can adjust to whatever situation.”

Allen admitted his best trait is his shooting – his 291 career 3-pointers are 13th most in ACC history – and he shot 38 percent over his four-year career. And though he admitted J.J. Redick has been a mentor and someone to lean on during the pre-draft process, the comparisons between the two stop at the shooting.

“I don’t think J.J. jumped 40 inches,” Allen said while laughing.

Allen was a winner on Thursday, putting together a combine that included a 40.5-inch max vertical and 32.5-inch standing vertical, both sixth best among all players. His 10.31-second lane agility time was the fastest at the combine and the fifth fastest in the database that goes back to 2000. His shuttle run of 3.04 seconds was third fastest among all players.

Put another way: Allen is one hell of an athlete. He converted 49 percent of his 2-pointers at Duke and got to the free throw line an average of 5.0 times per game in his final three seasons. Oh, and he won the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game Dunk Contest in 2014.

He measured a solid 6-foot-4.5 in shoes and has a 6-foot-7 wingspan. Though his calling card isn’t on the defensive end, his athleticism may make up for some of his shortcomings on that end. He’ll make or break his NBA career on the offensive end, and if a team can hide him defensively it won’t matter.

His intensity and maturity have come into question, mainly from the multiple tripping incidents he had at Duke. He was stripped of his captaincy as a junior but regained it for his senior season. If he can harness his intensity and channel it correctly it’ll benefit a team greatly.

Allen is also familiar with Chicago. He was in town for this week’s Lottery and Combine, but he also spent three weeks in the Windy City last summer doing an internship with Intersport, a media sales company. The Bulls have the 22nd pick in the first round and Allen could be an option for a team looking for more shooting in the backcourt.

“I love Chicago. I was here last summer doing an internship at Intersport for about three weeks. I loved my time here. It was during the summer so it was warm and nice weather,” he said. “I love the city of Chicago. It’s a great place with great people, and the Bulls are a great franchise. It would be amazing to play for a team like that.”