On the Bulls, Bobby Portis, the NBA Draft, Twitter, Doug McDermott

The Bulls addressed a need by selecting Arkansas forward Bobby Portis with the No. 22 selection in Thursday’s draft.

In Portis, the Bulls receive the SEC Player of the Year who features a combination of size and skill that could be helpful this season and seasons down the line. Portis averaged 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds last year. He also pulled down a respectable 13.6 offensive rebound rate this season. None of that will help Portis moving forward, but having a pedigree of success makes me feel at ease with the choice.

Without going into too much detail, the Bulls selected a player with a 6-11, 242-pound frame who has been lauded for being a versatile, willing defender with a nose for pulling down the ball off the glass and enough athleticism to run the break.

The Bulls have three rotation bigs, all of whom are either old, injured or old-and-injured.

Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson will each be in their age 30 seasons in 2016. Pau Gasol will be 35.

Noah is coming off an injury-plagued campaign. Gibson had offseason surgery. Gasol’s playoff run was hindered by the injury as he missed a pair of games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Couple that with the fact that the Bulls were run off the boards in their postseason ouster, I find it difficult to hate the decision to select Portis.

Here’s the thing: Portis might not step in right away and make significant contributions right away. And that’s OK because you shouldn’t expect that out of the No. 22 pick. And if you’re expecting the No. 22 pick to walk on the NBA hardwood and do big things in big minutes as a rookie, just take a look at the history of No. 22 picks.

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Perspective.

When the Bulls had a chance to select a player who could make an impact right away, they traded into the lottery for a player who ended up wearing a professional redshirt. And yet, that was a draft pick many liked. So, there is that.

So, what else could you have asked for with pick No. 22?

A reserve point guard in Tyus Jones? A potential solid wing defender such as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson? A shooter like R.J. Hunter?

All would have been selections I wouldn’t have complained about. And frankly, you probably shouldn’t be complaining about this selection either.

The combination of significant holes and a new coaching philosophy means there is plenty of uncertainty as far as the Bulls are concerned. At some point, the Bulls need to get younger and more skilled. Maybe that point is now.


Speaking of new coaching philosophies, youth and skill, one of the first things I would be doing if I was new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is showing Doug McDermott tape of J.J. Redick’s rookie season.

“This is what the league thinks of you.”

Then, I would show him tape of the last two or three years of Redick’s career.

“This is what I think you can be if you work at your craft.”

McDermott has a lot of catching up to do, as he played a grand total of 321 minutes.

But why the Redick comp?

Redick, the No. 11 pick in the 2006 draft, played a 898 minutes in his first 76 career games over the first two seasons of his career.

But credit Redick for his perseverance. Rather than be stubborn and flame out, Redick worked at his deficiencies and earned the trust of his coaches — and eventually playing time. Redick has shot 40 percent on his 3-point attempts since the start of the 2009-10 season after wrapping up the 2008-09 season shooting 37 percent.

I see a lot of Redick in McDermott. Offensively, he is one-dimensional and not as strong as a guy his size should be. Defensively, he is a liability with poor footwork and fundamentals. Much like Redick in his younger years, McDermott’s flaws were exposed on a nightly basis at the NBA level. That is, when he saw playing time.

And like Redick, McDermott possesses one elite skill — the ability to shoot.

If McDermott commits himself to quickening his release and works on some of his noted deficiencies, he can find himself as a useful piece to the puzzle. If he doesn’t (or even worse, if he’s not good enough to make fixes) then he might go down as one of the biggest busts in Bulls draft history.


At some point, universities should invest in showing their student-athletes how to use social media.

While most don’t (or even shouldn’t) care about what young adults between the ages of 19-22 are sharing on social media, I know for a fact that colleges and universities do. Why? Because colleges and universities care about how their school and/or athletic program is perceived by outsiders.

Perception is key to colleges and universities when it comes to recruiting, funding, community relations, etc.

So, while you or I shouldn’t care about what guys tweet or post on Facebook, many institutions do, in fact, care about what is being said by a student athlete who is representing not only the team, but the university’s brand.

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On New Bulls Head Coach Fred Hoiberg (And Much More)

The worst kept secret in the 49-year history of the Chicago Bulls’ organization was revealed Tuesday when Fred Hoiberg was announced as the team’s new head coach.

There is much to sift through in regard to this hire, so let’s get to it.

On the Tim Floyd comparison…

The laziest take here is the comparison to when the Bulls hired Tim Floyd to replace Phil Jackson. Like Hoiberg, the Bulls plucked Floyd from Iowa State. The Bulls represented the first professional head coach gig for each.

And that’s really where the similarities end.

Floyd arrived at Iowa State after a successful run at New Orleans (126-59) and inherited a team from the legendary Johnny Orr, who remains to this date as the all-time wins leader in Cyclones history. Floyd went 69-29 in his first three years — in which the Cyclones went to three NCAA Tournaments, highlighted by a Sweet 16 appearnace in 1997. A year later, Floyd’s team went 12-18. The next year, he was off to The Association.

Hoiberg inherited a significantly different situation at Iowa State when he took over for Greg McDermott — whose teams averaged 14.8 wins per season from 2007-10 and did not finish above .500 in any of those years. Hoiberg took over a rebuild job and turned to transfer students in search of a second chance at a basketball life on college campus. He won at a 71 percent clip after finishing .500 in his first year at Iowa State. Realize how difficult that is when you’re going up against Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and other perennial powers. This is no small task.

Turning teams that featured high profile transfers and his own recruits and blended them into a successful unit is arguably the most remarkable thing he did on campus. Getting a group between the ages of 18-21 on the same page is one of the most difficult things in life, let alone sports. It shouldn’t be overlooked, considering he will have a similar job to do at the NBA level. Albeit with older, more highly compensated players.

The social aspect of coaching (i.e. handling players) is more important now than ever before. And at least Hoiberg has some experience in that regard.

You want to change the culture inside the locker room? That guy just did it in a conference that boasted the best RPI in each of the last two seasons.

And just as their jobs at Iowa State were different, the same can be said about what they were getting into going to the pros.

Floyd came to Chicago in a lockout-shortened season in which the only regulars to return from the 1998 championship squad were Ron Harper (35), Toni Kukoc (30). Man, those 1999 Bulls were brutal. Meanwhile, Hoiberg inherits a team with two returning All-Stars (Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler) and two former All-Stars (Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose) and Rookie of the Year runner-up Nikola Mirotic.

Floyd inherited an empty cupboard, which is a main reason his coaching tenure was awful. Hoiberg inherits a better team, albeit one that is fatally flawed.

But, hey, rookie head coaches who have significant NBA playing experience with some front office work on the résumé is totally fashionable right now, right?

On the Steve Kerr comparisons…

Both played in the NBA. Kerr for 14 years, Hoiberg for 9.

Both held jobs in NBA front offices. Kerr from 2007-10. Hoiberg from 2006-10.

Both will have taken over organizations who saw plenty of regular season success under coaches who ran into issues in the postseason.

The difference between Kerr and Hoiberg is that Kerr went to the broadcast booth and got to watch NBA talent courtside and in the interview room. Do not underestimate that aspect of a broadcaster’s job. There is a reason teams are apprehensive when Jon Gruden gets those Monday Night Football meetings late in the year when his name seems to circle the rumor mill.

While Kerr went to the broadcaster’s table, Hoiberg received hands-on training at the college level. No one knows if that will translate to the pros. But to dismiss Hoiberg’s résumé while praising that of Kerr’s is lazy.

“Yeah, but didn’t Hoiberg’s No. 3 seed Iowa State team lose to No. 14 seed UAB?”

A common (read: lazy) refrain from critics of this hire is that the last time we saw a Hoiberg-led team on the court, it was bounced from the tournament by heavy underdog UAB.

Hoiberg isn’t the first coach to lose to a double-digit seed, nor will he be the last.

Bill Self lost to Bucknell in 2006. Coach K lost to Mercer in 2014 — two years after losing to No. 15 Lehigh as a No. 2 seed. Heck, Steve Alford has lost to TWO No. 14 seeds. And he’s one of college basketball’s best coaches, even if he isn’t a great human being.

Shit happens in single-elimination tournaments. You know that. I know that. While that was not a good game for Hoiberg or his Cyclones, his track record says he is better than that particular loss.

Oh, and about those Warriors comparisons…

There is no one who compares to Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. And for all the talk of the Bulls’ depth, the Warriors have Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Mareese Speghts coming off the bench. That five makes the playoffs in the East.

So, how were the Bulls supposed to knock off the Cavs again?

Maybe it’s easier to say in hindsight, but this team wasn’t ready to beat the Cavs.

Not when Kirk Hinrich has to play 22 minutes in an elimination game.

Not when Pau Gasol is hurt.

Not when Joakim Noah has no legs.

You want the Bulls to be the next Warriors? It starts with the front office getting some players who can perform at that level.

Speaking of that roster…

It needs a youth-injected makeover. If the Bulls stood pat this offseason, they would be returning six 30-year-old regulars who accumulated 1,600 minutes or more the previous season. That much reliance on aging vets — including the likes of Noah, Gibson, Gasol and Hinrich who missed significant time due to injuries — is simply asking for trouble.

The Bulls need to get younger in the frontcourt, where they would project to start Gasol (35) and Noah (30) with Gibson (30) as their main backup. They need to get younger in the backcourt, primarily in the role reserved for backing up Derrick Rose. One of the biggest mistakes this front office has made is backing up the oft-injured Rose with an aging, oft-injured Hinrich — who by the way, has a player option worth approximately $2.7 million for his age 35 season. Yikes.

Conclusion

I find it difficult to dislike the Hoiberg hire. His résumé is pretty good.

He built a powerhouse program in a premier conference and did so using a pro-style offense that highlighted the importance of ball-movement, spacing and 3-point efficiency.

Remember when those three aspects were executed to perfection in the Spurs’ most recent championship? Fun times.

By all accounts, he is as personable as it gets. And that is a necessary attribute, considering one of the biggest public knocks on Thibodeau was his inability to connect and communicate with players and his bosses.

And in the end, Tuesday’s hire won’t matter if the front office doesn’t put better players on the roster.

The focus should move squarely onto the GarPax collective.

Good luck with that.