Bulls 2019-2020 Season Recap: Daniel Gafford
Gafford led all rookies in field goal percentage and blocks per game.
Remind Me Later •
Bulls Season Highlights: Daniel Gafford
|Season||Games Played||Minutes Per Game||Points||Blocks||FG%|
*65 game season
NBA second-round picks typically don’t get the love like lottery picks receive from the media and fans. But as the No. 38 overall selection in the 2019 draft, Daniel Gafford has made the case that he should’ve heard his name called a lot sooner.
The rookie center showed in two seasons at Arkansas that his leaping ability combined with his finishing around the rim were traits that could directly translate to the league. While Gafford is far from a finished product, his rookie season showcased the skills of a serviceable NBA big who, at the very least, can provide a huge burst of energy off the bench.
He led all 2019 rookies in blocks per game (1.3), ahead of Pelicans No. 8 overall selection Jaxson Hayes (0.9). Gafford also led all rookies in total blocks (56) despite playing significantly less minutes than the seven NBA rookies directly behind him on the total blocks list. Additionally, he also led all rookies in field goal percentage, shooting 70.1% from the floor. Gafford’s rim-running ability was evident from the beginning - showing a knack for throwing down lobs and finishing with power.
While defending without fouling and developing more aspects of his offensive game are a few things Gafford will surely be working on, the Bulls definitely found a gem in last year’s second round.
Let's take a look at a few of Gafford's noteworthy performances this season:
NOVEMBER 18, 2019 VS MILWAUKEE (BUCKS 115, BULLS 101)
Gafford Stat Line: 21 points (10-12 FG), 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
In just his fifth career game, and his first where he saw significant minutes, Gafford came off the bench and flashed the skillset that can help him thrive in the NBA for many years to come. He contributed a career-high 21 points in just twenty minutes. He had six total dunks coming off a combination of offensive putbacks and well-timed lobs. Matched up against former Bull Robin Lopez during most of his minutes on the floor, he also showcased a soft touch around the rim to complement his power game. Four of his five rebounds were on offensive end, showing his willingness to stay engaged even when a play isn’t drawn up for him. He also rejected a shot by reigning-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim – how many rookies can say they did that?
DECEMBER 13, 2020 VS CHARLOTTE (HORNETS 83, BULLS 73)
Gafford Stat Line: 4 points (2-3 FG), 6 blocks
Both teams struggled mightily offensively in this one, as both the Bulls and Hornets shot under 39% from the floor as well as 21% from behind the arc. But Gafford was disruptive on the defensive end. He totaled a career-high six blocks in twenty minutes of action. Gafford found success when meeting Charlotte’s P.J. Washington at the rim, denying his shot three times. He also impressed with a chasedown block in transition, trailing center Bismack Biyombo by a full length but timing his jump perfectly to swat away an easy bucket. If Gafford can string a few of these performances next season, it’s only a matter of time until he’s recognized as one of premiere shot blockers in the league.
JANUARY 11, 2020 AT DETROIT (BULLS 108, PISTONS 99)
Gafford Stat Line: 14 points (7-9 FG), 7 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal
Starting for the second time in his career, Gafford put together an efficient offensive performance after a two-point showing in his first-career start. Bulls fans may remember this as the game when Detroit’s Andre Drummond got ejected for tossing the ball at Gafford’s head. Seconds before that, Gafford received the ball in the post, took one dribble, turned and scored directly over Drummond’s outstretched arm – releasing a bit of emotion after scoring the bucket. That “never back down” mentality against a two-time All-Star in Drummond is something that can only be applauded.