Bears

Where will Jabari go? What will he do?

698758.png

Where will Jabari go? What will he do?

Simeon's Jabari Parker wants to win an NCAA championship.To do that, logic says, the best high school basketball player in the nation will have to attend either Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina or Michigan State to have the best chance in what figures to be his one-and-only year in college before opting for the NBA draft.Makes sense, doesn't it?Simeon coach Robert Smith isn't so sure. He offers another spin on the "Where will Jabari go?" scenario that surely will be a major subject of debate on many college websites in the next several months."You never know. Jabari is a different kid," Smith said. "His recruitment is wide open. He hasn't narrowed down (his list of schools). But he does want to win a national title. And he is looking at schools that have a capability to win a national title."It is speculated that Parker will follow the path taken by other celebrated players who spent only one year in college before declaring for the NBA draft; Carmelo Anthony, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. Of that illustrious group, only Anthony and Davis won NCAA titles."But remember, Harrison Barnes came back for a second year. So did Jared Sullinger," Smith said. "Jabari fits their mold as well as Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis. I never would be able to say that's what he is going to do. We'll have to sit back and watch."Smith said that at some date in May or June, he will sit down with Jabari and his parents to narrow the list of schools. After the youngster makes some more unofficial campus visits this summer, Smith predicts that the nation's top-rated player will make a decision in the fall prior to his senior season.Smith, who closely observed the recruiting of Derrick Rose, marvels at how well Parker has handled his celebrity. One long-time observer of high school sports in the Chicago area said the only other athlete who handled the pressure and hoopla so well was former Thornridge star Quinn Buckner."It couldn't be me," Smith said. "I would have cracked by now if it was me. There are so many things he has to uphold at such a young age. He is mature. But his home situation is so great. His father (former NBA player Sonny Parker) has been through it. And his mother wants him to stay humble and realize that basketball can be taken away at any time."Jabari realizes he has to respect the game, that when the ball stops bouncing, he must have something else to fall back on. Now he is looking forward to the challenge of next season. He already is talking about it. It will be his team. He must be more of a leader, more vocal. He is up for the challenge. It is his turn. He wants to lead us to a fourth state title in a row."Choosing a college might be more difficult for Parker than winning a fourth state title in a row and repeating as Illinois' Mr. Basketball.He is said to adore Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. But his mother is overly impressed with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. And his father admires North Carolina coach Roy Williams.But what about the KentuckyNikeJohn Calipari influence? How can you ignore their recent track record of success? And what if, as one veteran observer of the recruiting wars speculates, Nike offers Sonny Parker a prestigious position in the giant shoe company's hierarchy?In some respects, longtime recruiting analysts Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye agree with Smith that Jabari is different from a majority of highly touted recruits."Like Rose, he is a very humble, quiet, respectful kid, not full of himself. Yet he is quietly confident and aggressive," the Schmidt brothers said. "But he prefers to let others get involved and ease his pressure. He knows when to take over."His passion for the game and his work ethic are unrivaled. He will put in the hours working on the little things that most people do not notice, including mechanics on his shot and ball-handling. He was born as a team player with the inside knowledge of the team aspects of the game that just cannot be taught."While it can be argued, as Smith insists, that Parker is better than Rose at the same stage of their careers, that Parker is a better all-around and more versatile player, other critics claim he has a way to go before he can be rated ahead of Kevin Garnett and Anthony Davis as high school seniors.

Fantasy Football: David Montgomery dubbed 'Sit of the Week' vs. Saints

Fantasy Football: David Montgomery dubbed 'Sit of the Week' vs. Saints

It's hard to trust the Bears offense in fantasy football. Outside of wide receiver Allen Robinson, there simply isn't a skill player worth starting right now. It won't get any easier in Week 7's matchup against the New Orleans Saints, either.

The matchup is so challenging that David Montgomery was dubbed NFL.com's 'Sit of the Week' at running back.

Montgomery will no doubt be a flex starter on plenty of fantasy teams this week, but I'd temper expectations against the Saints. Running backs have averaged a mere 78 rushing yards a game against them, not to mention an average of fewer than 19 fantasy points per game. In what could be a low-scoring affair, starting the rookie is a risk.

Montgomery has been a disappointment in fantasy circles through his first five games after ending the preseason with an average draft position (ADP) that suggested he could admirably serve as an RB2 as a rookie. He's been more of an RB3 at this point, rushing for just 225 yards and two touchdowns (3.3 yards per carry) on the season.

Most of Montgomery's struggles can be attributed to the terrible play of the offensive line, which may receive a slight bump in performance now that right guard Kyle Long has been placed on injured reserve. Rashaad Coward is expected to step into the starting lineup. Will he provide Montgomery with more room to run? We'll soon find out.

Until then, it's probably best to stash Montgomery with the rest of your fantasy football reserves.

Bulls Q&A: Can Jim Boylen get job done? What about Chandler Hutchison?

Bulls Q&A: Can Jim Boylen get job done? What about Chandler Hutchison?

The preseason schedule concludes Thursday night. It’s less than a week until the regular-season opener. Judging from your questions, you’re juiced and jacked for Bulls basketball.

Q: Can Coach Boylen coach these guys well enough to the playoffs? - Matt B.

A: We don’t typically publish last names but since you claimed to be his nephew last week and sound like you’re on a first-name basis with him — Coach Boylen or Jim —perhaps we should be asking you.

Boylen has a plan for improvement. It started with management and him working in tandem on targeting personnel they wanted. He got guys he wanted to coach. So, yes, a lot of this is on him and his staff now. He wanted roster redundancy, as he calls it. He got it. He wanted more shooting. He got it. He wanted tough-minded professionals. He got it.

There’s this perception with some in the fan base that reach out to me that Boylen is some throwback coach, spouting football-isms. If anyone ever talked to the guy about basketball, methinks they’d have a different impression. He knows the game. He owns two decades of NBA experience.

I think everyone would agree the Bulls are playing a more aesthetically pleasing style of offensive basketball. From this seat, it appears they have a lot of work to do defensively. But Boylen and his staff are challenging guys in that regard. Everything comes up roses in the preseason. It’s time to continue the good vibes during the regular season.

My question is about Chandler Hutchison. Though he didn’t look tremendous as an offensive player last season or in summer league (besides when the ball is being pushed), his defense has always looked positive to me. Almost like a reverse Zach LaVine---he has one side down pat, but the other not so much. He has the physical tools on that side to be a very good wing defender for a long while should he stay healthy. With Denzel Valentine back, someone who’s almost the opposite of Hutch in every way, will his current offensive limitations keep him on the bench when he returns? Or does his defensive ability compensate? - KJ T.

He’s still on the team? Ah, I digress.

The Bulls are thin at wing. Hutchison indeed drips with defensive potential. The problem is, similarly to Valentine, you don’t know what you can count on. At his best, Valentine is a solid rotational player because of his shooting and playmaking ability. But can he stay healthy or get enough playing time to produce? He is very much a rhythm player.

As for Hutchison, he needs to show at least something at the offensive end to play or the Bulls are going 4-on-5. And at this point, he’s behind because of his hamstring injury. Wing minutes are there for the taking. It’s up to him to grab them.

With our extreme point guard depth, do you think the second unit combo with Kris Dunn and Coby White works or do you think Dunn should be moved to get someone like Valentine or Hutchinson (when healthy) in the future? - Thomas B.

Well, those to me are two separate questions. You absolutely deal Dunn for wing depth if that trade materializes. White could play with Ryan Arcidiacono, or you could stagger Zach LaVine’s minutes so that he’s running some with the second unit and playing off White. Don’t forget Shaq Harrison is an option as well. Until then, Dunn and White almost certainly will be the reserve guards to start the regular-season rotation. In this case, White is more effective playing off the ball than Dunn.

Who has the highest ceiling on this team and can that person be a three- or four-time All-Star? - @Ewardjr69, via Twitter

This is a hard one, similar to the co-worker who asked me today if Ben Gordon or Kirk Hinrich had a better Bulls career. (It’s Hinrich. He disagrees.) It’s tempting to say Lauri Markkanen has the highest ceiling because of his age and nightmare matchup potential. But LaVine is still only 24 and certainly has the feel of someone poised to be a multiple-time All-Star. He’s such an effortless scorer. I’m going with LaVine and a three-time All-Star, and it’s time for me to put the Kool-Aid down.

Daniel Gafford looks good. What do you think his ceiling is? - @poptrot, via Twitter

Lotta ceiling questions this week. I think there will be situational minutes for him. I’m not sure if he’ll have a permanently set role. His skills of running the floor hard, playing with energy and trying to dunk everything translate no matter the level and time. However, it’s pretty clear that Boylen will try to play small some this season. Thaddeus Young at power forward and Lauri Markkanen at center is a lineup I think will be used often. Also, Cristiano Felicio played some solid defense in the preseason. I know Felicio has become a punch line to many amongst the fan base. However, if he can recapture the role ­­he played three seasons ago — basically, what Gafford is doing now — he may be out there some as well. And this all assumes Wendell Carter Jr. is healthy, which apparently no longer is a safe assumption.

Who’s the biggest x-factor this season on the roster? I’m thinking Wendell Carter Jr. or Coby White. - @benjamminwatson, via Twitter

X-factors, ceilings . . . what the heck is going on? But I’ll bite: Valentine. He shot 38 percent from 3-point range in 2017-18. He could carve out an important reserve role if he stays healthy and connects at that rate or higher again. In fact, I’ll bite twice: Luke Kornet has a chance to be a really intriguing rotation player for this team. With his ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim, he will get minutes. And in those minutes, he’ll show his basketball IQ and ability to make little plays — proper screening angles, court vision — that can go a long way.

Are you seeing any encouraging trends during the preseason that will translate over to the regular season or is it too small of a sample size, being that some analytic experts says it takes 10 games to see any developing trends? - Donald W.

Well, the style of play is encouraging. Pace is up. 3-point attempts are too. Ball movement has improved. Boylen has set a “point-5” rule as his goal — making an action with the ball within .5 seconds. All of this can and should translate to the regular season.

I’ve watched some preseason games and was really shocked by the ball movement and team-first mentality of every player, even Zach. Same story with shots beyond the arc. They took 30+ every game.  Seems like Boylen did a great job this offseason. Could you tell us which surprises are due this upcoming season in your opinion? - С уважением

Beyond Markkanen showing his hilarious sense of humor more in his public comments? I think some may be surprised at Otto Porter Jr.’s impact. He’s one of those players who just makes the players around him better, at both ends. He’s a low-key guy and isn’t a go-to guy for reporters, so I don’t think he draws enough attention for what he does. But he’s greatly valued by coaches and teammates.

The starters looked good in the Raptors game, but the second unit in the fourth quarter was terrible. It looked like our bench is trying to play like the starters instead of having solid plays and focus on defense and stops. What do you think the Bulls need to improve the bench? Do you see them making any moves? Felipe S.

As mentioned several times, a trade of Dunn for wing depth makes sense. Getting healthy would help. But, yes, for as many positive vibes that surround this team, staying healthy and reliable depth remain to me the biggest question marks. The starting unit is very solid on paper. Thad Young is a proven commodity off the bench. Luke Kornet and Coby White are tantalizing prospects. Dunn can be a defensive force if his mental state stays right. Beyond that, there are question marks.

I believe that this new NBA is hurting some young players’ development, especially Lauri’s. He’s an excellent spot-up shooter, but I wish he could learn how to operate in the post, around the free-throw line, kinda like Dirk Nowitzki did. He can shoot over almost any defender or pump fake and get to the basket with one dribble. Pick up a couple of moves with the back to the basket and he can be truly special. He’s more athletic than Dirk was too, and I just wish he was coached differently. Watching him in preseason he looks confident taking 3s, but looked uncomfortable with a pull-up jumper inside the 3 point line. Also, not once did they ran a post up play for him in preseason. I wonder what you think about all of this. – Bobby G.

This was one of my observations in a recent piece that ran on this very website. Over half of Markkanen’s shots during the preseason came from beyond the arc. He shot 44.4 percent on those, so it’s obvious he can be effective from there. But, yes, to best utilize his skills and ability to cause matchup problems, he shouldn’t just be a spot-up shooter. He certainly wasn’t during his dominant stretch last February.

Thanks for all the questions. Talk to you soon.