Tag Archives: 2015-16 NBA

2016 Mock Draft

The Philadelphia 76ers finally won the NBA lottery, yielding them the number one pick in an exciting draft. As such, our resident lottery/draft expert Jeff Berest is back with his series of mock drafts. Enjoy!

1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, PF, LSU

Yes! ‘The Process’ worked – hooray! It took three long painstaking seasons but the Sixers finally won the lottery, more importantly winning the opportunity to draft [potential superstar] Ben Simmons.

Now, many people may believe there should be a true debate as to if the Sixers should go Simmons or Brandon Ingram, but there should be absolutely no discussion of the sort. The name the Sixers submit to the commissioner on June 23rd will read “Simmons, Ben”, and I am certain of this. Forget the Sixers drafting for need and selecting a shooter like Brandon Ingram, that is literally the only thing he does better than Simmons. Bryan Colangelo (aka not Sam Hinkie) will take Simmons and have his glut of frontcourt players and figure the rest out later. We haven’t seen a type of skillset like Simmons’ to come out of the draft since LeBron James. LEBRON JAMES! That right there should settle any internal debate you may have about the pick. A player who is 6’10″ and who can handle the ball and facilitate the offense like Simmons, on top of being able to create for himself and finish beautifully at the rim is just too good to pass up.

Before the season Simmons was the de facto #1 pick, but because of an ugly campaign with LSU, this debate with Ingram was created. I don’t care about his perceived immaturity or lack of competitive spirit. The kid made a terrible decision to go to LSU and was surrounded by truly amateur talent, yet he still dominated and averaged almost 20 and 10. Simmons is the building block the Sixers have been searching for over the past three years, and if Joel Embiid can get back on the court that’ll make two building blocks and this Sixers rebuild will be officially over. I’m also sure Brandon Ingram will be a very good player in this league, but in my mind, Simmons undoubtedly has not only a higher ceiling, but a better chance of becoming the next elite NBA player.

2. Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke

Lucky for the Lakers they didn’t embarrassingly have to cede their 1st round pick to the Sixers on national television after a season in which they won only 17 games. The Lakers were also fortunate that they weren’t jumped by the Celtics or any other team, because that would’ve taken them out of the Brandon Ingram sweepstakes. The 2016 NBA Draft is the most top heavy class I can remember in recent years. After Simmons and Ingram there is a very VERY steep drop off in talent, so landing in the top 2 was a major coup for the Lakers – Thanks, Byron Scott!

Ingram is an elite scorer, who stands at a lean 6’10″ and has deep range. He is a matchup nightmare on the wing and possesses the length to be a bothersome defender. He typically gets a comparison to Durant because of that thin frame and ability to shoot from deep, but he has a long way to go before he becomes KD. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have the potential to become “KD-lite”. Ideally, you’d like to see Ingram handle the ball better, and it will be interesting to see in the NBA if he chooses to just be mostly a jump shooter or if he rounds out his game and relies on his ability to get to basket as well.

The Lakers would now have a formidable group of young talent to build from in Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle.

3. Boston Celtics – Dragan Bender, PF, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Danny Ainge will probably be looking to deal this pick but if he cannot do so, I think he will be forced to take Bender. Outside of Bender his options are all guards, like Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, and Buddy Hield. But where will the minutes be for say, Murray, who would have to play in a rotation with Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Evan Turner. Bender is somewhat of an unknown but I believe there’s a consensus that he may have the highest ceiling and potential of any player outside of Simmons and Ingram. It might take a few years to unlock that potential but that may be worth it for the Celts. Jamal Murray isn’t pushing Boston over the precipice and launching them into the Conference Finals anytime soon. The Celtics have the time to nurture Bender and maybe get lucky with him. It also helps that that down the line they also have more unprotected Brooklyn picks to play with.

Bender isn’t going to be a replicant of Kristaps Porzingis and have immediate success (most likely). But he is awfully talented on the offensive side of the ball and the Celtics need to add to their frontcourt that is dependent on guys like Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger. Ainge would definitely like to move this pick and add NBA talent that can help now (maybe a Jahlil Okafor swap??), but Bender is an interesting gamble worth taking.

4. Phoenix Suns – Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky

The Suns could really use another wing player or big to pair with Alex Len, but they’re in this 2nd tier which is very guard heavy. If the Suns still want to configure their roster around three combo guards well they are truly in luck, because Jamal Murray is there for the picking. To me, Murray is the best available at this point – and one thing this could do for Phoenix is make Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight expendable. Which would be good if they could shed one of those big contracts and then work with a backcourt that included Murray.

If you take and Murray and combine that with assets from a Knight/Bledsoe trade that’s probably not a bad haul for the 4th pick. The Suns also have some flexibility because they have the 13th pick, so drafting for need isn’t the way to go here. I wouldn’t be shocked if a guy like Denzel Valentine vaulted up the board here and the Suns nabbed him, but it’d be hard to pass on a shooter like Murray who can also handle the ball like a PG. If the Suns can maneuver their current roster a bit, Murray makes more sense. But even if they don’t they’re adding a quality talent regardless.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Kris Dunn, PG, Providence

I think Ricky Rubio is a fine player, regardless of his shortcomings offensively. But as a really big fan of Kris Dunn, he could be the one to vault this Minnesota team. Rubio is a great facilitator and a good perimeter defender, but that’s about it. He isn’t very athletic and outside of his passing ability nothing really wows you. Kris Dunn is relentless at attacking the rim and watching him it’s easy to see glimpses of a player like John Wall or Derrick Rose. His jumpshot isn’t great either and he isn’t the passer Rubio is, but his wow factor at times is off the charts. If I’m Minnesota, I would really have to measure what my allegiance to Rubio is going forward. He’s got a decently high cap number and a history of injuries, and there are many who believe that he has simply peaked and this is the best version of him we’re going to see.

Now I’m not saying Dunn is going to be the caliber of player John Wall is, but he has a slight chance to be that. So if I’m Minnesota I take him here, instead of going with maybe a safer pick in Buddy Hield. They have Wiggins, LaVine, and Muhammad who can fill it up, I’m not sure Hield makes them that much better. I’d take a flyer on Dunn, and see if you can move Rubio. I can’t see Dunn’s floor being worse than what Rubio already brings you, but his upside is way higher.

6. New Orleans Pelicans – Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma

I personally have a hard time saying that Buddy Hield actually has the potential to be a great player in the NBA. Outside of his incredible range, which should translate, I have doubts about his ability to beat NBA defenders off the dribble and create for himself like he did at Oklahoma. He can definitely be a solid piece, but don’t expect what he did at Oklahoma to carry over to the NBA. There’s probably not much that separates him from Murray except for that Buddy is already 22 years old.

The Pelicans #1 priority is to get back into the playoffs and put as much talent around Anthony Davis as possible. So I doubt the Pellies would get frisky and take a Jaylen Brown or Skal Labissiere here and see if they can develop. Buddy is probably the player most likely at this point in the draft to help them right away. Eric Gordon has moved on and a backcourt of a (healthy-ish) Jrue Holiday and Buddy Hield is not a bad duo, and gives NOLA another good scoring option. Buddy probably won’t be a good defender at the NBA level, but neither is anyone else on this Pelicans team, so he should fit right in. I wouldn’t be surprised if Valentine were to go here either.

7. Denver Nuggets – Denzel Valentine, SF, Michigan State

If you look at the Nuggets roster it really has a lot more overall talent than some of the other teams that finished in the bottom 10 this year. They have some pieces to build around like Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic, not to mention guys who’ve been there like Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried. The Nuggets haven’t been relevant in the Western Conference in quite some time and they really don’t have any immediate needs to fill; they simply should take the best player available who will be able to help them right, and that’s Denzel Valentine.

Valentine may not have the elite athleticism a player like Jaylen Brown may have, but his instincts and basketball IQ are off the charts. At 6’8″ he has the ability to handle the ball and create for himself and his teammates. He’s never going to be a guy who averages 20 PPG or does anything extremely well, but he is a necessary glue guy who can do a lot of everything and his leadership skills have been praised by all scouts and coaches. Normally you don’t take this type of player in the top 10, but because of the weak depth in this year’s class there’s no way you could fault the Nuggets for taking Denzel.

8. Sacramento Kings – Jaylen Brown, SG, California

The Kings are…well…the Kings. Last year they completely mishandled the draft and reached for Willie Cauley-Stein, who isn’t awful but doesn’t really fit with DeMarcus Cousins. I’m having a hard time seeing them take a guy like Labissiere or Jakob Poetl here as well. Henry Ellenson is a better fit with DeMarcus Cousins – and this is just a gut feeling, but I can’t see the Kings taking Ellenson. Jaylen Brown could potentially be much higher on some teams draft boards because of his elite athleticism and his potential to maybe turn into a star if he develops a jumpshot and starts to round out his game.

Outside of Rudy Gay, the Kings are generally weak on the wings and if they feel like Dave Joerger can work with Brown and turn him into a player it’s very much worth the risk at #8. Ellenson is more ready to contribute next year, but his ceiling isn’t necessarily as high as Jaylen Brown’s. And considering the future picks owed to Chicago and Philadelphia, the Kings might be better off swinging for the fences.

9. Toronto Raptors – Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky

Toronto is still reaping the benefits of the Andrea Bargnani trade and are picking in the top 10 even though they are currently in the Eastern Conference Finals. Before the season started a lot of experts had Skal Labissiere as the #2 prospect overall next to Ben Simmons. He proved at Kentucky that he is much further away from being a finished product than initially thought. Although, recently at the combine and individual workouts he has been lauded for his shooting touch and two-way game. Skal can be an asset on defense as a rim-protector but has the athleticism and range to also play PF and in the NBA.

This tends to happen in many professional sports drafts where guys like Labissiere who are originally thought of as top prospects might slide during the year because of average performances. Then, in the evaluation process, the stock begins to rise again after his talent level reemerges when you’re comparing to others. Of course he won’t be going #2, but during his struggles at Kentucky some even though he could go late 1st round. But now that scouts and NBA teams can see his potential he will surely begin to push back up draft boards.

Toronto could really use a forward to pair with Jonas Valanciunas in the frontcourt and although Ellenson is a more polished product, Toronto is the type of team to usually take the pick with more potential. It will undoubtedly take at least a year for Skal to develop and figure out the NBA game, but his upside as a two-way player is undeniable.

10. Milwaukee Bucks – Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette

The Bucks may not have an immediate need for a PF like Henry Ellenson, but it just works out too perfectly that the boy from Wisconsin who also went to Marquette gets taken by the Bucks. The Bucks could really use a PG after the MCW experiment failed, but maybe Giannis really is their PG of the future, who knows? I think Jakob Poetl is probably the pick the Bucks should make because they are dying for a true center and rim protector. But Ellenson would be very hard to pass up.

The Bucks defense is an Achilles heel and Ellenson certainly won’t fix that. But he’s just another versatile player that the Bucks can integrate into their rotation. He has ability to shoot from range and has a polished post game. The Bucks may have a hard time finding minutes for Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker, John Henson and others, so some corresponding moves could possibly be made, and that’s where the Bucks could add another PG or center.

11. Orlando Magic – Jakob Poetl, C, Utah

The Orlando Magic have done an admirable job gathering some quality talent and assets over the past few years, but one thing that it hasn’t translated into is playoff appearances. And plainly, that is because they get their teeth kicked-in every night on the defensive side of the ball. Nikola Vucevic, although a terrific scorer, is a sieve on defense. Aaron Gordon is their only real quality defender.

Jakob Poetl may not be a position of need because you’ll have to find a way to work him and Vucevic together, but they’ve gone as far as they can with Nik as a rim protector and anchor of the defense. Poetl is a great defender and is actually a nice post player with good touch. The Magic could possibly take a wing player or maybe a PG to push Elfrid Payton, but by nabbing Poetl Orlando can finally stop being an embarrassment on defense night after night.

12. Utah Jazz – Wade Baldwin IV, PG, Vanderbilt

The Jazz are another lottery team that has a lot of talent and can definitely make a push to the playoffs next season, although many expected them to contend this season. Dante Exum was out for the season so there are still question marks on whether he is a productive NBA player. Rodney Hood turned out to be a gem in the late 1st round, and combines with Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert to form a great core. Whether Exum is the PG of the future or not, Wade Baldwin is an interesting fit here. Last year the Jazz took Trey Lyles, so I don’t think they take another big man here and crowd the frontcourt more. Baldwin is a great shooter and is built in the mold of a George Hill type, as maybe not a conventional PG but a combo guard who can still facilitate the offense when needed.

Between Baldwin and Exum (either way) you have your starting PG, as well as a combo guard off the bench who you can play small with as well. It’ll be up to the Jazz to develop Baldwin, but he’s not a bad pick here at the 12 spot. Baldwin is also extremely long for his size and should be able to defend not only the PG position well, but SGs also.

13. Phoenix Suns – Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington

After taking Jamal Murray at 4, the Suns now go a little bold and take a shot on Marquese Chriss, a late bloomer who really caught everybody’s eye at Washington this season. He has the makings of a prototypical NBA stretch-4 and that is something the Suns should be interested in. He has the ability to shoot out to the three point line, has a solid post game, and is a very good athlete with bounce who can defend the paint as well. Chriss is still very raw, but with good coaching and some patience could develop into a very solid contributor for Phoenix.

14. Chicago Bulls – Timothy Luwawu, SF, France

The Bulls are dying for another wing player to pair with Jimmy Butler and Luwawu might be that guy. Luwawu has a perfect skillset for an NBA wing and can play both the 2 and 3 at 6’7″. One of his knocks was his three point shooting, but in France this year he raised his % to almost 40. He has the basketball instincts and IQ that should allow him to play in the NBA right away. He is also an above average passer for his position and his defense is one of his best attributes which should translate. He needs to improve his handle and make sure his shooting this season was not an anomaly, but at 14 this is the range where the risk is worth it for the Bulls.

15. Denver Nuggets – Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State

16. Boston Celtics – Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor

17. Memphis Grizzlies – Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey

18. Detroit Pistons – Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga

19. Denver Nuggets – Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame

20. Indiana Pacers – Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky

21. Atlanta Hawks – Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse

22. Charlotte Hornets – Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State

23. Boston Celtics – Cheick Diallo, PF, Kansas

24. Philadelphia 76ers – Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington

25. Los Angeles Clippers – DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Josephs

26. Philadelphia 76ers – Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV

27. Toronto Raptors – Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia

28. Phoenix Suns – Ante Zizic, C, Croatia

29. San Antonio Spurs – Isala Cordinier, SG, France

30. Golden State Warriors – Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt

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BULLet Points: Bulls take season finale over Sixers

The Chicago Bulls ended their season on a high-note, winning in comeback form over the historically bad Philadelphia 76ers (10-72) 115-105 at the United Center Wednesday night. The Bulls ended the season a disappointing 42-40, a record that would’ve made the playoffs in the East most other years.

  • The strangest thing happened Wednesday night: The Bulls were going through the motions and getting beat down by one of the worst teams in NBA history 60-39 in the 2nd quarter, the lead was 24 at one point, and then the crowd started to boo mercilessly.
  • Except instead of digging themselves an even bigger hole, they began to click and showed some energy, knowing down 3’s from all over the court and playing pretty stifling defense at times. The result was a demanding 32-4 run by the Bulls to put them up 71-64 and they never looked back.
  • The comeback charge was led by Nikola Mirotic and Justin Holiday. As for Mirotic, the forward shot lights out from deep, 7/11, on his way to 32 points. We knew Mirotic could knock down a few shots, but it was the rest of his game that impressed those in attendance. The Montenegro native stuffed the stat sheet with seven rebounds, four assists, five steals, and even three blocks. Mirotic making the hustle plays seemed to spark the rest of his team to do the same. The fact that he only turned the ball over only twice in 39 minutes is just an added bonus for Niko on the night.
  • The other spark plug on the night was Justin Holiday. The guard dropped a career-high 29 points in the win over the Sixers and must have impressed Fred Hoiberg with his ability to run the offense. Holiday showed great court vision and made the right decision with the ball more times than not on Wednesday. Holiday also proved to be a two-way player causing havoc on the defensive side of the ball with his length, and athleticism. The season-finale was a strong audition from a player hoping to stay in the rotation for next year.
  • It wasn’t just Mirotic and Holiday knocking down threes on the night. The Bulls as a team shot 63% (15/24) on the night as the Bulls pleased their coach by finding open jump shots early in the shot clock on a consistent basis. The key to this was the quick ball movement and unselfish basketball. Once the Bulls started their comeback there was little standing around on offense and everyone was making the extra pass on the perimeter to set up an even more open shot. The result was the Bulls putting up 99 points over the final three frames.
  • One of the bright spots for the 76ers was Robert Covington. The Bellwood, Illinois native must relish playing against his former hometown team. Covington put up 25 points the last time these two met and was just as good last night. Covington put away 27 points on 7/17 shooting, including 7/7 from the charity stripe and was the reason the Sixers had such a big lead early in the 2nd quarter.
  • Coming up: The 2015-2016 season comes to a close as the Bulls fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. This is a crucial offseason for Gar Forman and John Paxson to correct the dysfunction within the organization.
  • A note from DRaT editor Jake Weiner: Thank you so much to everyone that joined us for our coverage of all 82 Bulls games this season. It’s been a depressing year for Bulls fans, but we’re so glad to have been able to share the ups and (mostly) downs with all of you. We’re looking forward to joining you all again next season!

BULLet Points: Butler powers shorthanded Bulls over shorter-handed Pelicans

It had been a long time since a Bulls game in April meant absolutely nothing, making Monday’s viewing experience particularly bizarre. As much as I’ve loathed watching this team during this disappointing and infuriating season, I’ve always rooted for a positive outcome in their games. But when the Pacers officially eliminated the Bulls on Sunday, they also eliminated my ability to care about the outcome of the final two games. Alas, I still paid close attention to the festivities in New Orleans as the Bulls collection of scrubs outplayed the scrubs in Pelicans jerseys.

  • More significant than who played for the Bulls in game 81 was who didn’t play. Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, E’Twaun Moore and of course Joakim Noah all sat due to injuries of varying degrees. Fred Hoiberg started Jimmy Butler at point guard and let the All-Star guard do pretty much whatever he pleased with the reins in his hands.
  • Butler scored an efficient 23 points against the Pelicans, shooting 8/11 from the field and 6/7 from the line. Butler has struggled mightily with his three point shot all season and it was good to see him take – and make – just one shot from beyond the arc. Jimmy was able to waltz to the rim at will all night against a porous Pelicans defense and did not waste many possessions with bad jump shots.
  • Butler managed to dominate the ball without over-hunting for his own shot. Jimmy tallied 11 assists in a game he was the primary ball handler in 28 of 29 of his minutes on the court. Aaron Brooks was the only true point guard available Monday night and he only shared the court with Butler for about 70 seconds at the end of the first half. Butler’s ability to penetrate and draw help – often from two defenders – led to easy kick outs to open shooters and cutters.
  • Despite the high assist total, I would hardly categorize this game as strong support for the “Point Jimmy” argument. Yes, Butler recorded double-digit assists in a game the Bulls were desperate for offensive creation. But the reigning Most Improved Player still has a lot to learn about running a good pick and roll, a necessity for any lead ball handler. Butler has a tendency to peak around screens instead of jet past them, mucking up the offenses timing and limiting the effectiveness of the rolling screener. Butler attempted only one pass to the strong rolling Cristiano Felicio, a mistimed bounce pass that ended up as one of his four turnovers in the game.
  • Speaking of Felicio, the Brazilian rookie continued to take advantage of his opportunity to impress the organization ahead of the fast-approaching off-season. Felicio scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in his third career start. Cristiano shot 6/8 from the field, with half of his attempts coming from 20 or more feet from the hoop. Felicio struggled on defense, often failing to rotate off Omer Asik to impede driving guards, but that type of timing and personnel knowledge comes with time and experience. I’d rather see the giant gummy bear splash some silky jumpers than make a few more hard rotations to the rim.
  • Doug McDermott played just 24 minutes, shorter than the time Justin Holiday and Tony Snell spent on the court. McDermott has too often been relegated to decoy status down the stretch and attempted just one three pointer against New Orleans.  In a game where the outcome truly did not matter, it was disappointing that Hoiberg did not make more of an effort to include the second year wing in the game plan. McDermott’s defense is and will continue to be very bad, and if the team isn’t going to maximize his offensive abilities, then I don’t know what they’re doing.
  • Coming up: the Bulls finish off the season tomorrow night by hosting the 76ers.

BULLet Points: Bulls deliver completely empty signature victory

The Bulls technically aren’t eliminated until they lose another game or Indiana wins one, so Saturday night’s matchup with LeBron James and the Cavaliers still mattered. As is often the case, the Bulls brought their A-game for LeBron and co., pulling out an impressive 105-102 victory. Of course, it’s far too little, too late, so plenty of Bulls fans are just annoyed by this type of performance. Let’s take a look at how they did it.

  • The Spring of Cristiano Felicio continues. Felicio was 7/7 with 16 points, five rebounds, and two blocks in 23 minutes. He provided a real defensive presence and was perfect from the field, slamming down several dunks. Fred Hoiberg rightfully rode Cristiano down the stretch, as he played nearly the entire fourth quarter. The Bulls were +12 in Felicio’s minutes and -9 in Pau Gasol‘s.
  • The Bulls’ success with Felicio in the game is classic addition by subtraction. Pau puts up gaudy rebounding and block numbers that largely amount to empty calories. His slowness getting back and moving defensively sink the unit. His offensive production is overvalued as his post-ups slow down the flow and he takes a high percentage of long mid-range shots. Felicio does all the little things defensively and stays out of the way for the most part on the other end. The Bulls will be a better team without Pau in the starting lineup.
  • Good news! The Bulls have the rights to Cristiano Felicio next season for under $900,000, making the 23-year-old Brazilian a legitimate find. The Bulls will also have matching rights after next year, so Felicio will be on the team for a long time if things go well. A fun silver lining to a season that’s been anything but.
  • Bobby Portis and Felicio made up the frontcourt for almost the entirety of the fourth quarter comeback. The Cavs led 82-79 after three, but the Bulls stormed ahead to a double-digit lead before a late flurry from LeBron James made things interesting.
  • Ultimately, the James-Kevin Love frontcourt didn’t get the job done, as Tyronn Lue elected to go small for that stretch. Tristan Thompson never came in throughout the Bulls’ onslaught, and I wonder if that would’ve stopped the bleeding.
  • Both LeBron and Love were phenomenal, though. James finished with 33 points and seven rebounds in 39 minutes. He nearly willed the Cavs all the way back at the end, drilling multiple three-pointers at critical times. He was 4/5 from distance on the night, a far cry from his 30.2% clip on the season. Kevin Love notched 20 points and 13 boards.
  • Jimmy Butler turned it up late to secure victory. He finished with 21 points, six boards, and three steals. Derrick Rose had a tough night, adding only 10 points while posting a -20 in 32 minutes.
  • Nikola Mirotic tallied 13 points and six rebounds in only 17 minutes. He’s really started to look like a valuable player since coming back from his appendicitis. He’s shot 43.7% on threes since the All-Star break and is up to 38.2% overall.
  • J.R. Smith was lights out, scoring 24 points with seven three pointers. He’s quietly been one of the most prolific three point shooters in NBA history, and some nights he’s just going to roast you from deep. The Bulls are lucky J.R.’s hot shooting didn’t sink them.
  • Mike Dunleavy still looks like a corpse, which is unfortunate.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head to New Orleans tomorrow night.

BULLet Points: Heat put likely final dagger in Bulls season

The Bulls came into the game tonight absolutely needing victory, and they could not deliver, falling 106-98 to the Miami Heat. Down three games to the Detroit Pistons and three and a half to the Indiana Pacers, although not mathematically out of it, the elimination number is one. Tonight, we got the version of the Bulls that can’t play defense; although putting it on one man’s shoulders is rarely appropriate, it’s hard not to point directly at Pau Gasol. Normally, here would follow a string of videos demonstrating his inability to move laterally, box out, help, switch, or contest effectively, but I’ll spare it – there will be plenty of videos next year. Instead, I’ll show all the things I’m excited about.

  • I never thought my first BULLet Point would ever be about Cristiano Felicio, but it is. With Taj Gibson out (ribs), Felicio was called upon to fill in once again. He has plenty to work on, but he’s a big body who has grown tremendously in a short timespan, and does a lot of little things right: screens, rebounding, effort and loose balls, and even fast breaks. He led the team with +8 in 14 minutes. Here are some of the videos I captured of his good work:

  • I said I wasn’t going to pick on Pau, but I lied. Gasol had 21 points and 12 rebounds but led the team with a massive -17. Here he is struggling with communication on a switch, followed by an inability to contest a drive, and finally Bobby Portis securing an offensive rebound by securing good position, another foreign concept to Pau:

  • Okay, back to the things I’m excited about… the Bulls played some Hoiball tonight on offense, converting on primary and secondary breaks through layups and threes, and taking early and open shots. Fred Hoiberg‘s after timeout plays (ATOs) were also effective, plus he utilized Derrick Rose with the second unit for a few stretches, which shook things up in a good way. Rose came out to start the second quarter, but then rested in two short spurts instead of one, still playing 17 minutes in the half. It was nice to see, but too late in the season.

  • I never get tired of Rose driving. He ended with 17 points and three assists on 7/16 shooting in just under 36 minutes.

  • Doug McDermott didn’t have a great night, but at least he (sort of) tackled Hassan Whiteside and was (wrongly) given a flagrant foul. This was the Bulls’ first flagrant foul of the season, coming in the 79th game. It was also Doug’s first flagrant or technical foul in the NBA, and he had no technicals in his 145 games at Creighton.

But that second angle though…

  • Aaron Brooks was given the DNP tonight by Hoiberg. Honestly, if all that happened in this offseason was getting rid of Pau and Brooks, I would be happy. As for exploring the other moves available to the Bulls – that’s for another day.
  • The Heat won their 46th game of the season, moving them into a tie with the Celtics for 4th. Dwayne Wade notched 21 points, along with six other Heat players in double figures, including all five starters, as the Heat shot 47.8% from the field.
  • Coming up: The Bulls take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in what is likely to be a meaningless game.