While the Chicago Bulls have already tipped off a couple of weeks ago. Today begins the start of the regular season for Chicago’s G-League franchise in the Windy City Bulls. Last season was the best year for the WCB. In their third year of existence, they went 27-23 and made the playoffs for the first time ever. Even though they lost to the Westchester Knicks in the first round, it was a season to build upon for the WCB. It’s important for teams to establish solid G-League franchises. It worked for the Raptors in helping find parts of their core (which I wrote about for SB Nation this past summer) and teams like the Nets found it useful during their rebuilding years. Although it’s unlikely that the Bulls will get multiple parts of their future in the WCB roster, this offers another chance for them to develop guys just an hour away in Hoffman Estates. They can possibly find a diamond in the rough and this offers them more cracks at finding a quality player.
With a team like the Bulls, they need as many good players as possible and the G-League is another route they can take to find and refine talent. The close proximity can help with players on the first team getting practice and game minutes as well.
The WCB will be having a new coach in Damian Cotter as last seasons head coach Charlie Loesner left to be an assistant at Alabama. Cotter spend the past two seasons being an assistant for the Long Island Nets and Capital City Go-Go’s while also spending a considerable amount of time coaching in his home country of Australia.
There are a lot of players to like on this WCB roster, there are the two-way players they signed this offseason, players who played college ball in the city, and guys who were here last season looking to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. Here is a primer on the Windy City Bulls roster. Although guys like Daniel Gafford and Denzel Valentine were assigned to the WCB, we have a good sense of who they are as players. I wrote about the guys you will see on a more consistent basis if you turn on a WCB game.
Mokoka was the first of the two-way players who Chicago signed this offseason. The French forward got some action in summer league and the preseason. In Vegas he was much more productive with Chicago more focused on evaluating their younger players. As per the scouting report coming into the summer, Mokoka flashed promise on the defensive end. He was able to switch onto multiple players and held his own in those matchups. He also showed some tenacity on the perimeter, putting immense pressure on the ball handler. Mokoka can certainly has the tools to be a plus defender at the NBA level. In Summer League he averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 rebounds while playing nearly 29 minutes per game.
In the preseason he got some garbage time minutes and there isn’t exactly a lot to evaluate from that. For the WCB however, Mokoka should get a lot of time on the court. This season will be a good chance to evaluate how he develops offensively. He has shown some signs of a three-point jump shot and will be available for kick-out opportunities. Mokoka’s athleticism will help him near the rim for put-backs and when he drives into the lane. However he needs to be more consistent at getting his shot up on offense. The shot seems a bit slow on the release and he needs to make better decisions when running at defenders towards the basket. Mokoka will get a lot of minutes in the G-League to work on that. Personally, he’s going to be the guy I’m looking forward to the most on this roster.
Like Mokoka, Simon was on the Bulls Summer League roster as well and also displayed an ability to play quality perimeter defense. He won the 2018-19 Big East Defensive Player of the Year and can overwhelm offensive players with his 6’5 frame. Simon can switch well too and use his athleticism to make up space when he loses his man or gets beat off the dribble. His team defense is solid as well and he doesn’t usually get caught out of position. Like mentioned in the Summer League primer, defense isn’t a concern for Simon at all. It’s his offense.
He rarely ever shot from three in college and the trend continued in Vegas. Simon took only five three-point attempts and missed them all in Summer League. Otherwise his offensive was pretty nice as he averaged 51.2 true shooting percentage on 6.2 attempts per game.
For the WCB, Simon will be the defensive stopper and along with Mokoka they will make a fearsome perimeter duo. The lack of shooting from the perimeter will limit his offensive impact but he can surely make up for it on the defensive end.
Callandret was another member of the 2019 Summer Bulls but didn’t play as much minutes as the other WCB members who were there. He averaged just eight minutes per game in Vegas, scoring a total of nine points throughout. Callandret will serve in a backup point guard role for the Windy City Bulls. He showed during his time at Idaho that he can run an offense and find open teammates. Callandret averaged 6.7 assists per 100 possessions in college and will be expected to give the ball to guys in positions where they will succeed. The sample size is very small for Callandret so it remains to be seen. In the WCB’s latest game against Iowa, he played a mere 10 minutes but did stuff the stat sheet. Callandret had five points, four assists, and six rebounds in his small stint for the WCB.
The Bulls worked out Shittu in the pre-draft process but he ended up going undrafted and playing Summer League for the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite averaging 16.5 minutes in Salt Lake City, Shittu scored just a mere seven points in those two games and went scoreless in Vegas. His rebounding numbers didn’t look too good either as he just had seven across all three games he played total. Yet, there is still some parts to like about Shittu’s game. He’s an okay scorer and will be patrolling the central area of the court defensively.
Shittu has the ability to post up guys on the low block, using his wingspan to make tough shots over taller defenders. He can certainly take advantage of switches, just going through guys when he gets the ball inside or near the paint. Offensive efficiency is a big thing to watch for as he shot just 46.8 percent from the field in college despite being primarily only an inside scorer. Shittu can play either the four or the five for the WCB. But given his lack of shooting, he would be more fitted playing center. He just turned 20 yesterday so there is still a lot of time to develop for Shittu. He needs to become a more solid defender while polishing up his offensive skills inside.
He came off the bench in the WCB’s preseason game and scored 14 points while going 7 of 10 from the field, making for a solid debut in the G-League.
Rest of the Roster
Strus, who played two years at DePaul and is an Illinois native, put up buckets while he was in college. While with the Blue Demons, Strus averaged 16.8 and 20.1 points per game respectively and did so on decently efficiency with an average true shooting percentage of 56.2. He most recently played for the Boston Celtics in the summer league and played well, averaging 9.75 points per game while shooting 45 percent from downtown.
He’s a microwave scorer and is exciting to watch he gets things going offensively. Despite being 6’6, he didn’t rebound very well in Summer League but did average around six a game in college. He needs to improve his abilities on the defensive side of the ball to be a more effective two-way player. While he certainly will give up points on the defensive end, Strus can be a positive on the offensive end. However it does also matter on how well he is shooting the ball.
Strus shot a lot in college (16.5 FGA per 40) and it will be interesting to see if and how that changes with the WCB as the season goes. Based on their preseason game against the Iowa Wolves, it looks like more of the same as he put the ball up 16 times for 23 points.
McCallum also played his college ball at DePaul, playing two years for the Blue Demons. At 6’7, he was played mostly at the forward positions and was relied upon to help out with rebounding as well as given some scoring pop from the inside. McCallum averaged 10 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while in college and did it on an okay efficiency (51 TS%). He struggled from three, shooting a career average barely over 28 percent despite shooting 2.7 of them every game. However he was efficient when it came to two-pointers, making over 50% of those attempts in each of his two years.
He was a member of the WCB last season but played just 200 minutes last season. He averaged 16.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per 36 while his shooting numbers rose up. His three-point percentage rose up to 31.6 percent, TS percentage to 54.4, and McCallum hit nearly 60 percent of his two-point shots.
McCallum has shown he’s capable of putting up points for the WCB. He dropped 26 points for the team on a couple of occasions last season.
We just need to see more of it due to the small sample size. However, with Strus in front of him it could be hard for McCallum to find minutes. He played just three in their preseason win over the Iowa Wolves.
Beachem is a returning member to the Windy City Bulls roster. He was acquired at the beginning of last season in a deal with the Wisconsin Herd for Aaron Thomas and a 2nd round pick in the G-League draft. He previously played for the South Bay Lakers.
The box score numbers really didn’t pop out in the 42 games he played for the WCB last season. Beachem averaged 6.5 points at an average TS percentage rate of 51 along with 2.6 rebounds per game. On offense, a majority of Beachem’s shots came from downtown. He had a three-point attempt rate of 69.4 percent and shot 33 percent on those attempts. At 6’8, Beachem offers solid size for a power forward and can stretch the floor at least a little bit.
The Windy City Bulls seem to value Doyle pretty highly. Otherwise they wouldn’t have traded JaKarr Sampson and the fourth overall pick in the draft for the former Net. Doyle was in training camp for the Bulls and is expected to be a big part of their team. He started at shooting guard and although he only scored seven points, he still took a lot of attempts from the field. Doyle took 14 field goal attempts with five of them coming from downtown. Having played the 2017-18 season for the Long Island Nets, Doyle played around the same way. He took nearly 18 attempts with about half of them coming from downtown. Doyle’s percentages were much better during that stint and despite the slow start for the WCB, the numbers should normalize. He shot 37.1 percent from deep with the Nets G-League franchise and will offer a lot of floor spacing for the WCB. Along with Strus, the Bulls now have two knock down shooters in their G-League system. Doyle also showed he can help out in other ways, averaging 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists as well. At 6’4, Doyle can play both guard positions and his assist numbers show he can get teammates involved if he takes over ball handling duties.
Doyle will be a solid two-way player for the WCB and although he isn’t signed to a two-way contract, his progress should be something worth looking for. Him getting a starting role in their preseason game is a good sign and he will offer value on both sides of the floor.
Although Dozier isn’t signed under contract by the Bulls, he still will be playing minutes for him. Dozier is a two-way player for the Denver Nuggets and with them not having a G-League franchise, he was sent to Chicago to work on his game. Denver has been the third team Dozier has signed a contract. He previously signed two-way contracts with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics in the past two years. Dozier put up numbers for both of those G-League franchises respectively. He really thrived with the Maine Red Claws, averaging 21 points with a TS percentage of 53 while also adding 6.6 assists and rebounds per game.
Offensively, Dozier can kind of space the floor with his shooting. He took a little over five attempts per game while with the Red Claws and was average at best from there (31.2 percent). In the WCB’s most recent game took five shots from deep, making three of them in a 25 point effort. Dozier is 6’6 but played PF in that given game. Nobody knows if that trend is going to continue but head coach Damian Cotter seems like he wants to run a small-ball lineup to start out games. Dozier will offer up spacing and his rebounding numbers seem decent enough for the WCB to not get burned on the boards when he is out there.
At 6’8, Goodman offers another power forward option for the WCB. He recently went undrafted in the 2018 draft and spent last season playing in Slovakia. Goodman played for Utah State for his first two years of college before transferring to Westminster. He averaged 27.7 in his final season in college while shooting 55.8 percent from the field and a whopping 46.7 percent from downtown.
At 25 years old, Goodman will be considered one of the veterans on the team. He played a mere two minutes against Iowa, so it remains to be seen where his spot on this WCB roster is. He can offer shooting from the outside and has shown an ability to put the ball in the basket. If Shittu or Dozier struggle in games, it’s possible to see Goodman come in for relief at the power forward position while also being able to play at the three position.
Hall is the elder statesmen of the team at 29 years old and he’s had quite the journey to get here. He went undrafted out of Memphis in 2013, playing in multiple countries and G-League franchise. He’s played in Japan, Denmark, and Saudi Arabia. In between those places were stints with the Iowa Wolves, Santa Cruz Warriors, and he even suited up for the WCB during the 2016-17 season. This will be his second consecutive year with the team after playing last season in Hoffman Estates. Hall averaged 8.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game but his efficiency numbers didn’t look so good. He shot an overall 45.8 percent from the field and despite shooting 40 percent from three, he took just over two of them per game. At 6’8, Hall offers another forward option for the WCB and started at center (yes you read that correctly) for them this year so far. Like last season, he will likely be used as a roll man in PNRs, either sprinting down towards the basket or popping out for a three-point attempt. We saw more of the former last year but he can still keep teams at least a little bit from there.
Hall won’t always get the start at the center spot. With players like Gafford getting minutes here they will likely man those roles whenever they play. But Hall has shown the ability to play the position and do his part offensively. He will keep opposing big men on their toes when he’s out on the court.
A 6’10 player from France, Porier will be one of the WCB’s tallest players on the roster. He spent last season with the Capital City Go-Go and played decently well for them. Porier averaged 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field. With his tall, lanky frame, Porier is going to give trouble to opposing big men on both ends of the court. He can post up guys and finish over them while also being able to take the ball from the top of the three point line to the basket. Porier has decent handles for a guy his size and last season in the G-League there was times where he would take defenders one on one as if he were a guard.
But he does need to improve his rebounding numbers as a guy his size should be gobbling up more opportunities on the boards. Other than Porier becoming a more polished player offensively, becoming a better rebounder should be a sign for Porier. He can offer a bit of a different look than Hall will, especially with his ability to score off the dribble. Porier can play in the PNR game but instead of shooting will give you scoring via driving to the hoop. He’s an intriguing prospect
Wilder played point guard for the WCB last season. He averaged around 6.8 points per contest along with 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The shooting numbers were subpar as he hit under 40 percent of his overall shots and the three-point percentage was at 26.1 on less than two attempts per game. Like Simon, Wilder does offer a lot when it comes to playing defense. When opponents are loose with the basketball, Wilder can cause chaos and poke it loose. He once had five steals in a game last season and can climb the ladder to meet players at the summit.
Despite being 6’3, Wilder wildly outplays his size and offers rim protection on fast break opportunities. His offensive numbers don’t look too good but he can give them valuable perimeter defense when needed. His athleticism aids him in being able to frustrate opponents as well as contest well on jump shots. Lineups where him and either Simon/Mokoka is sure to be a positive on the defensive end.
The WCB play back to back games against the Wisconsin Herd to begin regular season play. You can view the full schedule here.