Bulls

Thibodeau not worried about GM predictions

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Thibodeau not worried about GM predictions

Tom Thibodeau is not fan of outside predictions, and those of general managers can now be added to that list.

Yesterday NBA.com released its 11th annual GM survey, a list of 57 questions regarding players, coaches and fans answered by all 30 general managers. Of those questions, 80 percent of respondents selected the Indiana Pacers to win the Central Division, while just 20 percent selected the Bulls.

Whether its praise or criticism, it really doesnt matter. The only thing that matters is what we think, and again I want it to come back to us concentrating on our improvement, Thibodeau said, and so if they picked us to win it, would it mean anything more? No. So to me it doesnt mean anything. I dont care about that stuff.

It was a busy offseason for the Pacers, who resigned All-Star center Roy Hibbert and point guard George Hill after a 42-win season a year ago. The team also traded back-up point guard Darren Collison to the Mavericks for center Ian Mahinmi, and signed guards D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green.

Without Derrick Rose for at least half of the season, expectations have been tempered by many outside outlets, but Thibodeau said his team is focused on daily improvement, not predictions.

If you have the right type of guys, theyre gonna get ready every day, and so thats all you have to focus in on, Thibodeau said. If you start thinking about that stuff youre not thinking about the stuff that is important, and that takes you away from doing things to the best of your ability. So I dont want them getting caught up in any of that stuff because it doesnt mean anything.

Last year 96.4 percent of general managers selected the Bulls to win the division.

The poll did, however, name the Bulls the top defensive team in the NBA and Thibodeau the best defensive coach in the NBA. Last year Chicago allowed an NBA-best 88.2 points per game and teams made less than 42 percent of their field goals, which ranked second in the league.

Derrick Rose was named the second-best point guard in the NBA behind the Clippers Chris Paul; Richard Hamilton was named the second-best player who moves without the ball, behind Miamis Ray Allen; Taj Gibson received votes as the most likely to break out, and Nikola Mirotic was named the second best international player not in the NBA.

Mark Schanowski's NBA Draft Big Board 1.0

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USA TODAY

Mark Schanowski's NBA Draft Big Board 1.0

The NBA Draft Lottery on May 14 is the day all Bulls fans are anticipating, but why wait to start scouting the top college prospects?

This is the first of our weekly NBA Draft Big Boards, and I think it's pretty safe to assume the name at the top isn't going to change.

Duke's Zion Williamson possesses the combination of size, skill and athleticism we haven't seen since the days of Charles Barkley. At 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, Williamson is capable of end-to-end dominance. Not only is he a spectacular dunker, but he has above average ball handling skills for a man his size and can beat defenders off the dribble. Williamson projects as an elite scorer and shot blocker at the NBA level. The only questions for NBA teams: Can he defend at the small forward position and can he develop a consistent 3-point shot?

Williamson's Duke teammate R.J. Barrett will be a tremendous consolation prize for the team that doesn't get Williamson. The 6-foot-7 lefty is a versatile scorer with a knack for getting to the free throw line, drawing comparisons to Rockets' MVP James Harden. He’s currently averaging 23.4 points per game for the nation’s most talented team. Barrett should be able to defend at the 2 and 3 spots in the NBA, and would be a perfect fit for the Bulls at the small forward spot.

The No. 3 spot is wide open and could change frequently as we go through the rest of the NCAA's regular season. You won't catch Murray State games on television very often, but the Racers have one of the country's most dynamic players in 6-foot-3 point guard Ja Morant. He reminds scouts of Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox with his speed and ability to finish at the rim, and if you watch his game tape you can see some of the physical attributes that led to Dwyane Wade flying up draft boards back in 2003.

I had a chance to watch Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver play Wednesday night against Iowa State. Culver finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds with a mid-range game similar to DeMar DeRozan. Culver isn't a great outside shooter at this point, but at 6-foot-5 he has the size to get to the basket with a power game that will remind Bulls fans of Jimmy Butler.

Indiana's Romeo Langford is one of the nation's top ranked freshmen. He's a volume scorer in the mold of Zach LaVine, but has been inconsistent from the college 3-point line, shooting 24 percent from beyond the arc. At 6-foot-6, Langford is projected to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions in the pros, and could develop into a 20-point per game scorer.

Duke's Cam Reddish had been running third in most mock drafts early in the college season, but his ice cold shooting from the field and 3-point line has him dropping here. At 6-foot-8, Reddish has prototype small forward size and the shooting mechanics to be a solid 3-and-D guy in the NBA.

Much like Romeo Langford, Kentucky's Keldon Johnson projects as a versatile scorer, with the size to play both the 2 and 3 spots in the NBA. With all the McDonald's All-Americans at Kentucky, Johnson has emerged as John Calipari's go-to scorer, averaging 14.6 points a game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from the 3-point line.

USC's Kevin Porter Jr. is another talented combo wing at 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds, but to this point his production hasn't come close to reaching his potential. An injury cost him some games early in the season, and now Porter Jr. is serving an indefinite suspension for conduct detrimental to the program. Character issues could cause him to drop depending on how well he interviews with teams at the draft combine.

Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter is a defensive specialist with ideal positional size at 6-foot-8 and 222 pounds. He projects as a 3-and-D player in the pros in the mold of former Spurs' defensive stopper Bruce Bowen. He should improve offensively playing in an up-tempo NBA offense.

Like Hunter, Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura could have been a first-round pick in last year's draft but decided to go back to school with the hopes of winning a national title. Hachimura has power forward size at 6-foot-9 and 234 pounds and a soft shooting touch out to the 3-point line.

Other players to watch: North Carolina SF Nassir Little; Vanderbilt PG Darius Garland; Oregon C Bol Bol; International F Sekou Doumbouya; Texas C Jaxson Hayes; Virginia Tech SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker; Gonzaga F Brandon Clarke

Kevin Cross named Senior Vice President/General Manager of NBC Sports Chicago

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NBC Sports Chicago

Kevin Cross named Senior Vice President/General Manager of NBC Sports Chicago

CHICAGO – January 17, 2019 – NBC Sports Regional Networks today promoted Kevin Cross to Senior Vice President/General Manager of NBC Sports Chicago, effective immediately. Cross will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the network, which includes overseeing its vast multiplatform content portfolio, and developing new avenues of enhanced fan-focused coverage for its team partners: the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox. The announcement was made by Bill Bridgen, President, Group Leader, NBC Sports Regional Networks, to whom Cross will report.

“Kevin has demonstrated expert leadership not only in content development and execution, but also in numerous facets of our business,” said Bridgen. “His many years of management experience in the regional sports business, along with his creative mindset, will benefit both our network and our team partners for years to come.”  

Previously, Cross served as Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago, a newly-created position for the network that commenced in October 2017. Under Cross’ direction, NBC Sports Chicago experienced significant growth in its multiplatform content offerings. He was also instrumental in bringing numerous former Chicago professional athletes on board over the years as network analysts, including Frank Thomas, Doug Glanville, Kendall Gill, Patrick Sharp, and Lance Briggs. 

From 2012-2017, Cross was Sr. Director of News & Original Content at NBC Sports Chicago (formerly CSN Chicago). Before that, Cross was the network’s assistant news director, producing and staffing a variety of studio shows and orchestrating remote field reports. 

Cross began his sports TV career at SportsChannel Chicago in 1993 as a producer. During the network’s transition to Fox Sports Chicago in 1998, Cross was promoted to senior producer and orchestrated the network’s live pre/post-game shows for Bulls and White Sox telecasts. In 2000, Cross became President/Executive Producer of Timeline Productions, where he created syndicated sports programming for national distribution (including Fox Sports) in 65 million households. In 2003, Cross joined CLTV as executive producer of their sports department, where he oversaw all editorial content and helped create the network’s popular Sports Page Roundtable & SP Express programs.  

A native of Chicago’s southside, Cross received his degree in television production from Chicago’s Columbia College. Cross and his wife, Lisa, reside in Chicago’s western suburbs, along with their three sons. 

NBC Sports Chicago, a partnership between the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Cubs (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB) and the NBC Sports Group, features over 275 live pro games in high definition each year.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago delivers extensive pre/post-game coverage for its core pro team partners, as well as Chicago Bears postgame coverage, local sports discussion programs that includes SportsTalk Live, and massive cross-platform coverage provided by the network’s growing digital platform, NBCSportsChicago.com, the new “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app, and its variety of fan-focused social media outlets. Fans can follow the network on Twitter via @NBCSChicago.  

NBC Sports Regional Networks is NBC Sports Group’s portfolio of nine regional networks that delivers more than 2,200 live sporting events and original content to more than 35 million homes. Aligned within Eastern and Western Divisions, the NBC Sports Regional Networks are: NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia +, NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Washington + and SNY; and NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Northwest. For more information on NBC Sports Group properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios, headshots and logos, please visit www.NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com. 

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