7 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago
The Bulls, while in the midst of a crazy locker room near-revolt, are finally back to full strength!
After each suffering multi-week absences with MCL sprains, both Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis will be available off the bench tonight against Sacramento. One former member of the rotation who won’t be available is Antonio Blakeny, as he’s been the Bulls have assigned him to the GLeague.
We’re talking about practice
All hell broke loose on Sunday, and if the Bulls come out flat tonight against the Kings more hell will break loose.
Because, despite all the talk of grit, passion, and energy, the Bulls just recorded their worst home loss in franchise history Saturday night against the Boston Celtics. And it was Boylen leading the way. Not Hoiberg. It’s Boylen right now who is setting an even tougher tone than Tom Thibodeau did, doing in his very first week at his new job a lot of what ultimately got Thibs fired.
Somehow, the grit/passion/energy/blue collar whatever the heck you want to call it identity was way easier and more exciting to get behind during the Derrick Rose-less days of the Thibodeau era Bulls than it is now. Maybe it’s as simple as that team actually played hard and overachieved relative to their talent. Because seriously, talent wise did the 2013-2014 Chicago Bulls have that much more going for them than this season’s iteration of the Bulls?
Duke vs. Duke
At Duke, Wendell Carter Jr. played good soldier. He sacrificed his own counting stats and took a backseat to fellow freshman big man Marvin Bagley Jr. In any other situation, Carter would have been the quintessential college basketball star. But at Duke, Bagley dimmed Carter Jr. star.
For the first time in the NBA, Carter Jr. gets to show what he can do against his old teammate.
Bagley’s counting numbers in his rookie season have been solid. He’s averaging 12.7 points (sixth among rookies) and 6.3 rebounds (fourth among rookies) per game. But he’s one of those guys where the gaudy stats do not mean he’s impacting winning.
The Kings are 8.6 points per 100 possessions better offensively and 7.3 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he sits as opposed to when he plays.
Here’s hoping that both guys take this matchup personally and this becomes a fun game-within-the-game type of thing.
De’Aaron Fox is Good
Impatient pundits were quick to label Fox a bust after a less-than-magnificent rookie season. Too small. Can’t shoot. All criticisms that sprang up as he failed to immediately reach the expectations attached with being the No. 5 pick in the draft.
This season, Fox has shut everybody up. Through 25 contests, he’s cleaned up the major criticism of his game (the shooting). His true-shooting percentage is up almost nine percentage points from last season. He’s shot better from mid-range territory particularly 10-16 feet from the basket where he’s dropping buckets at a 52.3 percent rate (an almost 20 percent increase from last season). He’s also finishing at the bucket at a better rate than last season.
But perhaps most impressive in regards to his shooting is how he’s transformed himself into a threat from 3-point land. He’s shooting 39.5 percent on 3-point field goals this season on a healthy three attempts per game. Last season, he shot 30 percent from downtown and during his one year at Kentucky, outside shooting wasn’t really part of his game (24.6 percent on 1.9 attempts per game).
Fox is good and is yet another really good point guard the Bulls will need to figure out how to contain. Having Kris Dunn back, even off the bench, should help in that respect.