Bulls Podcast #40

Bulls Podcast #40

It’s the Chicago Bulls Podcast 40 hosted by Marcus Couch and Wyse Black. We're talking about the future of White and Gafford, Off-Season Training Wish Lists, and a Spin Around the NBA Rumor Mill.

Welcome to the Bulls Podcast, coming to you from BullsPodcast.com. This is where we bring you the latest news, reviews, rants, rumors and opinions on the players, coaches and front office of the Chicago Bulls.

We’ve got several topics for this episode. Including:

  • White and Gafford Predictions for the Season
  • Our Wish List for Player Off Season Training
  • Another spin around The NBA Rumor Mill

We’ll be right back after this quick time-out.

Bulls Summer League
White was a mixed bag in Las Vegas, showing the ability to push the pace, get to the rim with a lightning-quick first step and knock down some mid-range jumpers. But he was also careless with the ball, made just 3 of 30 3-point attempts (and two of those makes came in a 20-second span) and didn't shoot above 44% in any of the five games he appeared in. He's still quite raw running the point, so the inefficiency was expected. The flashes he showed at times told much more of the story. 

In comparison, let’s frame those stats with a common reference point to Bulls fans. Cam Payne.

Coby White Summer League Stats: 15.0 points, 4.8 assists, 33.7% FG, 10.0% 3FG, 3.8 turnovers, 30.8 minutes

Comparison: Cameron Payne, 2015, Thunder: 18.8 points, 4.0 assists, 43.6% FG, 28.6% 3FG, 2.5 turnovers, 30.0 minutes

Don’t let this fool you though, as a lot of our guys didn’t do well in Summer League:

Summer League rookie stats:

Marquis Teague: 10.6 points, 29.4% FG

Derrick Rose: 9.5 points, 29.4% FG

Tyrus Thomas: 16.2 points, 44.4% FG

Lauri Markkanen: 14.0 points, 29.3% FG

Erik Murphy: 11.6 points, 54.8%

Cam Bairstow: 10.2 points, 53.1% FG

Joakim Noah: 6.4 points, 47.4% FG

A couple of days before the 2019 NBA draft, Donovan Mitchell talked to USA Today Sports about Coby White being a sleeper in the draft. Mitchell on White: “He's a dog. He's good, really good.” Let’s see if that recognition holds true.

Wyse, what do you think Coby White is going to have to do RIGHT NOW in the offseason to improve the holes that we saw in him during those Summer League games?

Gafford
The Chicago Bulls filled a much-needed role when they drafted Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford with the 38th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Frontcourt depth was an issue for Chi-Town last season, and it wasn’t going to improve for future seasons unless the Bulls made some smart decisions. Drafting Gafford was brilliant, but there were still some questions as to how NBA-ready he was coming out of college.

In the 2019 NBA Summer League, Gafford was amazing. He showed he’s ready to be the Bulls’ backup center immediately. Wendell Carter Jr. still projects as a far better player than Gafford, so it’s not like the Bulls found a starter in the second round. But Gafford showed he’s ready to provide at least 20 meaningful minutes per night, which says a lot about his NBA-readiness.

One of the most desired types of big men in today’s NBA is a rim-running, shot-blocking athlete (see Clint Capela, Jarrett Allen and Willie Cauley-Stein). Gafford fits that mold. He rolls to the basket hard after setting screens and he protects the rim ferociously. He also crashes the offensive boards with tenacity – something that the fans are going to love once the season starts.

Gafford was clearly one of the best big men in Las Vegas this summer. But there are still parts of his game he needs to improve. For example, sometimes when he catches the ball near the bucket, it takes him too long to get his shot off, allowing him to get blocked at the rim. This is something he’ll learn with time, so I’m not worried. But it’s important to note that he wasn’t perfect this summer. There were also a number of plays around the rim that I would’ve loved to see him finish. Yes, he was relatively efficient, but he missed too many easy shots.

In spite of his flaws, Gafford’s play during Summer League made him look like one of the biggest 2nd round steals of the 2019 NBA Draft. A big man that can play quality minutes right off the bat? Sign me up.

So where do we predict these guys will be during the season?

Gafford will most likely get most of the minutes between the two, but seeing the growth of Coby White as the point guard of the future for the Bulls is going to be interesting to watch. If we keep Dunn all season long, Coby will have a lot less pressure and can learn in the right situations. Keep him TOO deep in the rotation and he’s going to grow stale and his skills may take a turn for the worse. It’s a tight margin for sure. My ultimate prediction is that Coby will be a bench guy til the trade deadline, where we can hopefully deal Dunn, and Coby gets a solid place within the lienup.

Gafford may as well be Taj/Portis 2.0. He’s a bench guy for the foreseeable future. He’s not going to start for at least a few years.

Off-Season Wish List for The Chicago Bulls
As the players head back into the gym and the court, we’d like to present a small wishlist for the players and what they should be working on and improving their skillset within the game. This week we’re going to talk about the presumed starters and next episode we will get into the role players and coaching staff.

Zach Lavine
Become the franchise player that we all want him to be. He works hard in the offseason, now it’s time to excel as a player and become an All-Star to represent Chicago. Excel on defense to round out your game on both ends of the floor.

We’re seeing a ton of workout video mixes being posted on social. As much fun as it is to try and run strapped to Bungi, what is being done to improve your stamina and killer instinct? We saw early as Zach started with the Bulls that he started to play with the chip on his shoulder. In year 2 of his new contract, we need that chip to turn into a mountain. The fans are depending on Zach to be the face of the franchise, and this is the year we need that to come out. He’s got to have an All-Star year. Not by making some selection by a coach because he’s a home-town guy. We need him to perform like the All-Star that we all believe Zach can be.

Also, get ready for the Slam Dunk contest when the All-Star game comes back to Chicago.

Lauri Markannen
Stay Healthy Lauri! We need Lauri to be “The Man” next year. We have our own NBA unicorn and I feel like he is still so under-utilized within the structure of the team. If there are any weaknesses in Lauri’s game, I would have said defense for sure but he showed some excellent flashes of defense and rim protection at times throughout last season. It’s still a work in progress, but it isn’t nearly as bad as everyone thought it would be.

His biggest weakness is his lack of aggression at times. He’ll go stretches of the game where you forget he’s even out there – basically a non-factor. Part of this is the point guard factor, part of this is that Zach wants the ball. But if he were more aggressive in pushing guys aside and calling for the ball, I think we’ll finally see “All-Star Lauri” start to come out of his shell. I also want to see Lauri in the 3 Point contest this year, since the All-Star game is in Chicago.

Kris Dunn
It’s a problem when Kris Dunn statistically is at his worst when he is on the floor with Zach Lavine. While Dunn plays extremely well with Lauri Markannen, the fact that he cannot gel with his longtime teammate of two different teams. Dunn needs to work on his 2 man game with Zach to become a more efficient feeder to guys with hot hands. There are a lot of young targets on this team, and Dunn should have an easier time than most point guards out there. But for some reason we’re all down on him. For me, I hope he works on his confidence and quickness. I would gladly sacrifice a year of developing Coby White as the 3rd PG and watch Kris Dunn turn our guys into All Stars with a boost in confidence and collaboration with the young stars. If it can’t happen, at least he has some decent trade value. Though if the value were that high, why did we get no takers on him during Free Agency?

Otto Porter Jr.
Otto Porter ($27,250,576) will earn more than Giannis Antetokounmpo ($25,842,697), Anthony Davis ($27,093,019) and Joel Embiid ($27,250,000) for the 2019-20 NBA season. He was the glue that saved the continuity of the Bulls last season, almost overnight. He made them a different team and evolved his own game to career highs.

“This team is going to be different next year,” Porter recently said “We have a lot of different pieces coming. So it'll be totally different and I'll have a better understanding once we're all together for training camp and practicing. I look forward to starting, getting an opportunity to play with everyone who will be on the team and go from there and learn the system and what Jim (Boylen, coach) wants.”

Now with a full Bulls season to come, what does Otto need to work on?

That’s hard to say because the guy gave us the best games in his career so far. Every stat was a career-high. This is the kind of thing where you hope the guy just maintains, improves and just stays healthy while contributing as usual to the team. We make fun of the contract, but honestly, for what he brings to the team, this is a guy that solves a lot of previously ongoing issues for us. The thing to work on would be further chemistry with the team and perfecting the 3Pointer to 50% territory.

Wendell Carter Jr.
WCJ has done a lot of talking in the media this summer. A lot of it revolves around his realization of the legacy of the Bulls, the legendary lineups of the Championship years and the GOAT, our forever Chicago icon, Michael Jordan.

It’s great that Wendell is soaking in the vibe, but he needs to be soaking in the ice trough after working out every single day like a madman. This offseason, WCJ needs to add some BULK and MASS to that frame. I know he is recovering from some hernia stuff, but that won’t stop you from hitting the curl bench or prevent shoulder presses. Get some more flexibility by getting into stretching and yoga. You want to honor the old Bulls? Turn into Rodman. Let’s get MEAN this year too. Maybe even a little dirty every now and again. 

The Chicago Bulletin
Sometimes there are stories that we come across that we want to share from other teams as well. Sometimes they involve the bulls indirectly, sometimes the rumors don’t. But they are fun and fast-paced.. So here we go..

Niko $45 Million?
Bulls fans lost their collective minds on social media when the news broke that the Bulls had offered Nikola Mirotic a 3 year $45 million dollar offer, which he rejected to go back to Europe. 

Thankfully this is determined to be Fake News, as David Kaplan confirmed that the Bulls did NOT make this offer to Mirotic. As it turns out, Utah did make a major offer in that range to Niko that he rejected. Niko’s coach in Europe is sticking to his story and insists the Bulls offer really happened.

Slam Dunk Rematch?
Aaron Gordon told TMZ that being in the 2020 slam dunk contest in Chicago “is something that I want to do.” Gordon: “I know Zach LaVine will probably do it.”

Anthony Davis Would ‘Consider’ Playing In Chicago If He Got The Chance
In a recent interview with new Lakers star Anthony Davis, the Chicago native has put out there that he would like to someday play for his hometown Chicago Bulls later in his career.

Tomas Satoransky describes how Chicago recruited him in free agency
As it turns out, it was not Gar/Pax that came calling on the first day of Free Agency, but Jim Boylen was the one to reach out to Sato. Within a day, they had a deal. So much for Boylen not being able to get good players on the team.

Thaddeus Young’s 139-minute job interview with the Bulls
His 139 minutes against Chicago were five more than he amassed against fellow Central Division rival Cleveland. On sample size alone, there’s no better indicator of what Young will do for the Bulls than what he did against them. In all 4 games vs the Bulls last year, Thad Young was the deciding factor. What's significant about that is that all four games were played at least one month apart. The final game of the series came in March, two months after the penultimate meeting. That spacing provided a truer representation of Young’s impact as both teams had ample time to evolve and adapt to the natural changes within a marathon NBA season. And that is what led the Bulls to bring in Thad Young.

Someone Save Joakim Noah!
Why is Joakim Noah not signed yet? The 34-year-old former Bull and NBA DPOY had a great comeback year with Memphis last season, but this free agency period, no one is calling Stick Stickity’s cell with an offer. Probably because his vet minimum salary would still be in the neighborhood of $7 Million per year. It would be a great fairy tale to send Joakim Noah into NBA retirement wearing Bulls red, but this is one dream that costs way too much money to fulfill.

Bulls predicted to have a better record, but still losers.
The Bulls are predicted to have between 33 and 36 wins next year by Las Vegas oddsmakers.

Wyse and I both lost money on the Bulls in Las Vegas last season. Sin City had the line of 28 wins for the Bulls last season. As much as we laughed it off at completely crazy last year, the oddsmakers were 100% correct in their assessment. In fact, we fell way below their expectations in wins and losses and Wyse and I both lost money betting on the Bulls.

CLOSING:

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Until next time, Thank you for listening everyone, Go Bulls!