Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Bulls’

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Last season, the Chicago Bulls experienced a dramatically positive growth spurt. A team that actually lost at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the early part of the season grew together and gelled enough to qualify for the postseason. And in those playoffs, they gave the defending World Champion Boston Celtics all they could handle in a physical seven-game series that featured more overtime sessions than any other series in NBA history. It was probably the most exciting playoff series that the professional hardwood has ever seen, but a first round exit is still a first round exit, so 2008-09 was not exactly the most memorable season in Bulls history. But after building some positive momentum last season, what will the Bulls do with it now?

Their sophomore Head Coach Vinny Del Negro is as good a clue as any. Here are some of the highlights of what he’s told the media this preseason

About taking it to the next level…

“The 2nd half of last year I think we started to come into our own a little bit, kind of me feeling the guys out, them feeling me out how we’re gonna play. Now there’s a familiarity…now we just have to improve, you have to put the work in on the practice court and hopefully execute in games.”

On how little you can read into the Bulls 5-2 preseason record…

“Every time you’re keeping score, you always want to win, but sometimes there’s a lot of young players out there and that usually dictates some mistakes and the flow of the game can get changed a little bit when you’re trying to conserve some guys’ minutes, so the rotations aren’t down and that throws guys into different positions sometimes.”

On Tyrus Thomas, and his convalescence…

“He needs to get back in shape, he’s been out a little bit, and get the flow back offensively, defensively, be our shot blocker back there, and make open 15 footers. If he runs the court with his athleticism and gets after it defensively, it’ll give us a big boost. He knows what he needs to do, he just needs to go out and do it consistently.”

On improving the team’s much maligned defense…

“We have to find a way to get stops at key times, but also we need to rebound better defensively. Some times we’re getting key stops, but not getting that basketball, hopefully with a little more size the rebounding numbers will get better.”

The subject on everyone’s mind, the health of Derrick Rose…

“He needs to get back. It is a day-to-day thing. He’s been doing some running and he’s been on the bike. We may have him in shooting drills, but not full-contact drills…It is possible he will not be ready for the opener against San Antonio. I hope he practices tomorrow but it is really day-to-day.

Season tips off October 29th.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ sports-writing at:

-the site he founded The Sports Bank.net

-NBA analysis at Walter Football.com

-“Patrick Kane Chronicles” at Buffalo Sports Daily

Read Full Post »

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Did the Chicago Bulls send a message to incumbent starting power forward Tyrus Thomas Thursday night by drafting two power forwards? By using both of their first round draft picks on prospects who play the four, the Chicago front office seems to be telling us one of two things. Either a.) Coach Vinny Del Negro, GM Gar Forman and company are unhappy with Thomas (who desperately needs to develop a post move) and are attempting to motivate him, or b.) Ty is being aggressively shopped to other GMs in the league. Maybe we’ll learn more once NBA free agency starts on July 1, when more transactions are like to start happening around the association.

But we can worry about that later, for now let’s focus on who the Bulls did pick up with the 16th and 26th overall picks.


Wake Forest, Forward, James Johnson

In college, Johnson was able to muscle weaker defenders down low while also using his ability to drive and finish. His range from deep leaves plenty of room for improvement, but he did develop a more consistent mid-range game as a sophomore. “We love his versatility he can play the four, he can play the three, he can play inside, he can play outside, at his size 6’8” 250 he can put the ball on the floor, he can rebound and put it out in transition. He’s a very big passer for a big guy,” Forman said to the media present at the Berto Center.

USC, Forward, Taj Gibson

Gibson is already 23 years old and should be able to contribute off the bench right away. He will likely make a living as a professional thanks to his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. 6’10” with a 7’2” wingspan, Gibson had the second longest reach of anyone in this draft. (Only the 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet was longer) “His wingspan was amazing, he’s long, he can block shots in the lane and he has a developing inside-outside game,” Forman said of Gibson on draft night.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

Read Full Post »

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Two Days before the NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls got great news about their small forward depth. Luol Deng, out since Feb 28th with a fractured tibia, started running and looks to make a full recovery without surgery. If only the Bulls’ salary cap space could recover from the massive wound inflicted by Deng’s contract. It will be interesting to see how this news affects the Bulls’ plans. New General Manager Gar Forman will likely use one (or maybe both) of the team’s two first round draft picks on someone who played at least a couple years at a big name program. It’s how former GM and current VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson operates. Here are three candidates fitting that bill.

Arizona’s Chase Budinger

The name value is there and he could potentially be gone when Chicago’s on the board at #16 but more than likely falls into the mid-20s, so maybe the Bulls can grab with their second pick at #26. He likely would have been a lottery pick if he declared after his freshman or sophomore seasons. This past year however, Budinger stock fell like the Dow Jones. Budinger spoke about the meaning and prestige of being drafted high.

“There is some status, but I try to look past that. When they get to the NBA, every rookie is going to be on the same level. Look at a guy like {Orlando Magic F} Courtney Lee, who was picked later. He became starter and he’s getting a lot of minutes on a very good team,” Chase said.

Louisville’s Terrence Williams

One of this draft’s top small forwards, Williams was very candid at the combine about Draft workouts. “Some other players don’t really work out because they feel they’re already secure in a certain spot, and that surprises me because you’d think that people who love basketball would play regardless,” Williams said. He also expressed his love for the idea of playing for the Bulls. When a reporter reminded him how rare that is (a player so honest about wanting to play for a specific team) he didn’t back away from his comments. Will Chicago reciprocate?

Pitt’s DeJuan Blair

He only measured in at 6-6.5 in shoes which is far from the ideal size for an NBA power forward. But his physicality and 7-2 wingspan will help wipe away any doubt teams have about his future productivity. Blair is pretty confident: “I don’t think there was a better offensive rebounder by far in this class at all. There’s something about that ball, I go get it,” he said at the combine.

In addition to his rebounding, NBA Draft aficionados also buzz bout Blair’s astonishing weight loss (40 pounds in three weeks). Blair had a sense of humor about it. “I told my mom about it this morning, she said did you cut off your leg off?” Get ready for the next best-selling book: “The DeJuan Blair Diet.”

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

Read Full Post »

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

If there’s one position the Chicago Bulls don’t have a pressing need at, it’s point guard. The incumbent starter, Derrick Rose is the only player on the roster even remotely close to developing into a franchise player, and (SAT scandals and gang sign gestures aside) is the guy to build the team around. But the Bulls might see backup Kirk Hinrich move on soon and in today’s NBA, the “Golden Age of Point Guards” that we currently live in, it’s good to have two reliable point guards.

As former UCLA point guard and current draft prospect Darren Collison said at the NBA Draft Combine: “This is the draft you want to be in right now if you’re a point guard. Everyone’s getting so much credit, from Jonny Flynn, to me, to Eric Maynor right on down the list because everyone knows they need point guards to win ballgames, to take that next step. And teams need a first string and a second string the whole game to be solid, and all the point guards in this draft have the potential to do that.”

For teams currently needing a point guard, this crop of prospects is deeper than any draft this decade, possibly all-time. It could produce a couple players with the same impact as current young NBA floor generals Rose, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

On Tuesday, the Bulls looked at (among others) Maynor, Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague, Greece’s Nick Calathes, St. Joseph’s Tasheed Carr, the 5’6” David Holston from Chicago State and Bryan Mullins from Southern Illinois via Downers Grove High School.

UCLA’s second, and more hyped point guard prospect, Jrue Holiday has also met with the team and expressed a strong interest to join the team at combine media day. However, he should be long picked by the time the Bulls are on the board.

bullscourt

Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn, one of the hottest point guard prospects around, figures to likely be gone by the time the Bulls pick at #16 on June 25th, and long gone when the Bulls pick again at #26. However, he worked out for the Bulls, met with the front office and was extremely vocal about his desire to play for the Bulls at the NBA Draft Combine. Flynn told the media how much he enjoys the Bulls up-tempo system and their young nucleus. He also described his game:

“I think I have some characteristics of Chris Paul. His tenacity, he’s hard as nails, fiery, fires his teammates up, he really knows how to get his teammates in position to where they can score, where they don’t have to do much to score. Look at David West and Tyson Chandler; where would they be without Chris Paul?”

As much as the Bulls need a scoring big, as much as point guard is the team’s strongest position, they have needs at guard- especially someone to be a backup running the point and/or provide scoring at the off guard position given the (increasingly likely) case that Ben Gordon departs.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times, Walter Football.com and The Sports Bank

Read Full Post »

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

White Sox centerfielders are like Bulls post-players or Bears QBs prior to the Jay Cutler signing — there’s nothing close to a blue chip stock in the portfolio, so all you can do is take the collection of junk bonds you have, and try to maximize your return.

Thirty-one-year-old DeWayne Wise was a career minor leaguer for a reason, and there’s no reason to expect his game will significantly improve when he returns in 6-8 weeks from injury. He earned the job coming out of spring training simply because, as the Dave Matthews Band once put it, “we’ll make the best of what’s around.” Of course, the criticism Wise received from White Sox Nation this April was grossly unfair, because he never possessed the talent and potential of the guy who’s now stepped into his place.

Click here to read the rest of this post on NBCChicago.com.

Read Full Post »

Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)
If you’re looking for great music and networking in a “chill-axed” atmosphere, you have to swing by “Groove Sessions” tonight at The Joynt (located at 640 N. Dearborn) in Downtown Chicago. This weekly event is hosted by Jessica Williams and Miisha McCullar of IGM Entertainment and features some of the hottest and most eclectic bands that range from Neo-Soul to Latin Jazz. This is definitely a sophisticated and sexy crowd, so make sure you bring your “swag” intact. Tonight’s guests will be treated to the soulful, Latin sounds of the Noguera Evolution Quartet. Doors open at 8pm and admission is complimentary until 10pm. There is a $10 cover after 10pm and the event goes until 2am. To get on the mailing list, make sure you hit up IGM at igmentertainment@yahoo.com.

Since the weather will be much warmer, there’s plenty to get into this weekend…On Friday, Chicago Bulls Superstar, Ben Gordon, will be hosting this month’s “First Fridays Chicago” for the “All Black Attire Affair” kindred2at Alahambra Palace (located at 1240 W. Randolph). This upscale event will also feature a special guest appearance by husband and wife R&B/Soul duo, Kindred. Meanwhile, the sounds will be pumped throughout the night on two luxurious levels by DJs: Timbuk 2, Mark Fullaflava, Maurice “Ice” Culpepper, and 33 1/3. The event runs from 9pm-2am.

CHICAGO HIP-HOP CLASSIC
In a city where many claim “doesn’t support it’s hometown artists”, the Chicago music community will unite on Saturday, March 7th at the Harold Washington Cultural Center (located at 4701 S. King Drive) for the Chicago Hip-Hop Classic. This celebration of Chicago’s local hip-hop scene will be comprised of a concert and music symposium where artists, music executives, and music lovers can come together for positive inspiration. Artists such as Pheave, Que B.I.L.L.A.H., Gemstones, Polie Da Great, Twone Gabz, Jak Frost and dance troupe Final Phaze will all be performing. Doors open at 6pm and the show starts at 7pm. Tickets for this all ages show can be purchased in advance for $10 at www.amusicexperience.com, or $15 at the door. The Chicago Hip-Hop Classic is presented by GO Sity Entertainment and Bo Beniz.

CHICAGO TAKES OFF

If you’re looking for something a little different and want to support a great cause, check out Chicago Takes Off, an annual burlesque revue-style show where Chicago’s Dance community struts their stuff in support of the TPAN (Test Positive Aware Network), a support group that empowers individuals living with HIV and AIDS and educates the community as a whole about HIV and HIV prevention. These colorful and flamboyant shows will take place this Saturday at the Park West (322 W. Armitage) at 7:30p and 10pm. Seats are limited and can be reserved at http://www.chicagotakesoff.org.

Read Full Post »

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

Remember the Bulls glory years, when Michael Jordan was the finest late game finisher? When somebody had to be the team’s go-to guy and knock down the big shot, MJ was the Bulls’demetri assassin. The 21st ranked Illini lack this quality- a true ‘balla” to close games out, a star carrying this team on their back when necessary. I asked Head Coach Bruce Weber if the team’s current leading scorer and most athletic player, Demetri McCamey can be the guy- “Our team doctor mentioned to me before the Michigan State game, the one thing we don’t have is someone who can just take it over and make a play when we need it, Alex {Legion, Weber’s highest rated recruit} jumped up and made some shots against Michigan St. but if one guy would made a couple plays in gut check time, we could have found a way to win that thing. I think he {McCamey} has the potential. He’s got to learn the game: how to use screens, how to play without the ball, and if he could do that he could be the guy. He passes well, shoots the three, he’s got a big body and can pull-up,” Weber responded.

Another reporter followed up my question by asking “if not McCamey, then who?” Weber reiterated that it could be Legion, the transfer from Kentucky or forward Mike Davis. “I’m not sure right now, I think Alex has the potential to make big shots because he can just jump up and shoot it over people and maybe Mike Davis can continue to develop a triple-threat game so he can beat somebody by doing his little half-hooks and turnarounds, but Demetri has the most potential no doubt,” Weber answered.

Currently, Illinois (18-5, 6-4) is nationally ranked: 17th in RPI, 16th in Sagarin, 23rd in the AP and 21 in the Coaches poll. They appear to be a #5 or #6 seed come tournament time. Illinois has great balance -four different players: McCamey, Davis, Mike Tisdale, and Trent Meacham are or within a point-per game of being the team’s leading scorer- and resembles the 1998 team, who used balanced offense to go 13-3 and win the Big Ten, but imagine what they could be with a true closer? Their struggles on offense the past three games accentuate the urgency.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the NBC Street Team, the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »