After selecting Wendell Carter Jr. with the 7th overall pick, the Chicago Bulls once again went with what can bad called a ‘safe’ selection in Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison. The forward was heavily linked to Chicago since the beginning of the combine with reports of him being promised a first round selection. It was called a ‘bizarre’ method by draft analysts, and there are even reports that the promise hindered their ability to trade up from #7 on draft night.
So perhaps in our group of profiles leading up to the draft (here’s our work on Wendell Carter, by the way) we could’ve done the Hutchison one in advance, but here it is now.
Hutchison played four seasons at Boise State and saw an uptick in points per game in each progressing season. Going from averaging 3.1 points per game as a freshman to 20 his senior year, Hutchison showed massive improvements as a player and as a 4-year player, he certainly fits the mold of a guy the Bulls like to select. There is a lot to like about Hutchinson’s game and he looks like a polished player. On the flip side however there are questions about just how effective he can be on this Chicago team, including his ceiling as a player.
At 6’7 and 190lbs, Hutchison has a big frame and it really aids parts of his offensive game, adding an ability to put his body into defenders and becoming a bulldozer into the lane to draw fouls. In his senior year at Boise, Hutchison had a free throw attempt rate of .519, which is exceptional. With a player of his size rumbling towards the hoop, Hutchison doesn’t shy away from contact and it pays off for him in getting to the line. He’s shown a bit of craftiness around the rim but it isn’t enough to make him an exceptional finisher. He was the main guy at Boise State and often took it upon himself to be the top scorer for the Broncos.
Hutchison showed major strides of improving as a shooter at Boise State. After shooting 28.6 and 23.1 percent from deep in his first two seasons, he went to a more respectable 37.7 and 35.9 percent in his final two seasons. This is a very solid rise, and important to note that this was with an uptick of attempts from 3-point range to along with it. His TS% numbers reflect an efficient scorer with him having a percentage of 50 for 3 of his 4 years at Boise, with the peak being 57.5 percent during his senior year. He knows his role within an offense and won’t try to take shots away from others. Knowing your role and being able to go with the flow of an offense is important for any young player, especially one who has to adjust from being the main guy at their college program to being a 3rd or 4th option in the NBA. He is very good off the ball and will make smart cuts into the lane or down the baseline if his defender falls asleep. With passers (including newly-added Wendell Carter Jr.) on the team, expect some plays to be ran to find Hutchison cutting backdoor towards the hoop.
The driving ability also aids him in transition where he is good at running into open lanes and making himself an open option of secondary transition. He has good spatial awareness and knows how to attack a defense. With a Chicago offense that tries to emphasize pace and space, this could be a good fit as Hutchinson is capable enough of leading a break on his own or running alongside Lauri Markkanen. It might not be anything flashy offensively from Hutchison but he’s shown to be a reliable scorer.
(2:20 - 2:37)
The sequence for Hutchison starts off from a busted play as a kick out pass pushes him all the way back the half way line. Hutchison is able to gather and start a steady dribble at the top right of the three-point line. He takes a pick on his left side and forces SMU to switch. With a bigger forward now guarding him, Hutchison has the advantage. After a quick dribble move he drives left, using his frame to shield the ball away from his man. To the defender’s credit, he does a good job sticking with Hutchison but it doesn’t matter as the Boise forward rises up an finishes with his left. Again Hutchison is able to use his size to help prevent his shot getting blocked.
(5:01 - 5:14)
Here Hutchinson grabs a rebound off a missed Sacramento State shot and begins to bring the ball up court by himself. The majority of the players already back on the other side of the court, but the defense still wasn’t set so we will call it semi-transition. Hutchison sees this and drives to the paint. A quick stop and go move catches his man off guard and Hutchison easily goes by him. But he still has one challenge left before he gets to the basket and it’s the Sacramento State big man who is planted right in front of the rim. Again, Hutchison shows good adjustment during this play by jumping to his left to go around the big man. He does this all in one big silky move as he glides the ball off the backboard and into the net.
As showed in the clips above, Hutchison has no problem being a main ball handler in an offensive system. Having Hutchison on the floor gives Chicago an other ball handling option of someone who can help intimate offense for himself and others. Despite averaging only 3.5 assists per game, Hutchison did a good job of trying to get teammates involved. He didn’t have much tunnel vision when he had the ball on offense. If there’s an open or better option on offense he was no problem dishing it off. His assist rate on Boise State during his senior year was 24.1 percent and it is a decent indication of how he can flash some playmaking skills when need be. Again this goes back to the part of Hutchison knowing what role he will be playing in Chicago. He can’t afford to try and be the #1 scorer on the floor when the Bulls roll out lineups where he will be playing with the likes of Markkanen.
Defensively there isn’t much to say about Hutchison as a overall defender. As noted by many, Boise State played a lot of zone defense, which hinders what can be learned about a certain player’s defensive traits. Averaging a 4.3 defensive box plus/minus last season, Hutchison was good for Boise State and wasn't terrible off the ball. But again, we don’t know how much we can chalk it up to Boise’s zone scheme. Rebounding wise he was solid, averaging 7.7 in his final year. Hutchison showed a willingness to get into the paint and fight for boards, which is something you always like to see. Given how good the Bulls were on the boards last season with Robin Lopez, adding Hutchison will only help their dominance on the boards.
While there is a lot to like about Chandler Hutchison as a player, there are a lot of questions surrounding his game.
Regarding his shooting, it’s reasonable to be happy with his improvement from three while also being skeptical if he can continue getting better or maintain consistency. Hutchison has only shown two seasons at college where his shot was legitimate and even then he wasn’t an exceptional shooter from deep. We see all the time guys struggle shooting from three because the line is pushed back and there is some concern it could be with Hutchison. If he’s not able to be at least an average shooter from three, it will really limit his offensive game and crunch Chicago’s spacing. Teams will be more willing to let him shoot and it will close off the driving lanes to the hoop, which are the main part of his game. Hopefully Hutchison will get into the gym this summer and work with Hoiberg to continue to improve his jump shot. The three-point shot will be something to watch for in Summer League.
Defensively, as mentioned we don’t have a lot of tape to single out his individual effort, and Hutchison will have to learn one-on-one defense in a trial by fire. He has the physical tools to be good defender in terms of size, figuring he can guard 3’s and maybe small-ball 4’s. But we can’t say for sure cause we haven’t actually seen him play in that scheme.
Like WCJ, Hutchison was a high-floor, low-ceiling type player. Typically four year guys who just turned 22 don’t take massive leaps in improvement so don’t expect Hutchison to suddenly leap into All-Star status out of nowhere. This isn’t particularly a negative, but in terms of upside for Hutchison, there isn’t much there. It doesn’t mean he’s going to be bad , but more of a case of what you see from him is likely what you are going to get.
Hutchison will be a fine role player for the Bulls. He could be a plug in starter given the state of this team but he would be best suited for coming off the bench and giving them some pop from there. Obviously we have to see about his defense but offensively Hutchison could be a solid driver to the rim and a guy who can help get the offense going. Hutchison will play within the flow of the offense and be a solid contributor. But only time will tell. Some have express the same sentiment when it came this pick in terms of Hutchison being a day one contributor as the Athletic’s Sam Vecenie wrote in his NBA draft blog:
He’ll enter what is largely an empty Bulls’ wing rotation outside of Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday and David Nwaba (who is a free agent). There’s a real chance for him to make an early impact, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Hutchison ends up being one of the surprise rookie contributors of this class given his status as the No. 22 overall selection. As a fluid athlete who really likes to slash, his game profiles to fit really well in the increased space of the NBA. I had Hutchison at No. 19 on my board, so I’m a fan of this pick.
Hutchison is a good all around player but he doesn’t stand out in any major ways. He will be a good 3rd or 4th option when on the floor for this team moving forward.