John Paxson feels that the Bulls draft night additions, Coby White & Daniel Gafford, both set the team up well to continue to evolve to the changing pace of the NBA.
The amazing five-year championship run of the run and shoot Golden State Warriors' seems over, at least temporarily, with the injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
Get ready for Golden State East in Chicago?
"If you study our game, it is a quicker-paced more open game," Bulls Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations John Paxson said late Thursday following the Bulls draft of speedy North Carolina guard Coby White. "He can run, he's fast and can spot up and shoot it. We're trying to build a team to play effectively in today's modern game.
"In today's game," Paxson emphasized, "I don't know how many pure points we really have anymore. Most really good point guards have an effective scoring component to them. You have to play faster in today's game, get the ball up the floor; this man can play an uptempo game.
Watch as the Bulls select Coby White with the 7th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft
See Coby (and Zach and Lauri and Wendell) run; run Coby run.
"Coby can run, he can shoot the ball," said Paxson. "He at North Carolina as a freshman took on a leadership role with older guys. You have to score the ball in this day and age. When we think back to two years ago draft night what we've done, we've added a lot of really good pieces. We feel we've made a significant jump. Now it's up to our players to get better and perform at a high level. These two players (with second round selection center Daniel Gafford) embody that competitiveness (coach) Jim (Boylen) wants to see and have on our basketball team.
Tonight for us in the position we are at, we feel we've gotten two really good basketball players, young but who fit the direction we've talked about the last few years.
And so the Bulls move onto free agency in July with an eye toward supplementing their young roster with perhaps a pair of veteran free agents. Though Paxson reiterated that incumbent point guard Kris Dunn still remains in the team's plans.
"We still value Kris very much," Paxson said. "We have not given up on Kris. He's a good basketball player. But competition is part of this business. The goal is to be deeper, more talented. We respect Kris Dunn. We want him to come in and work. If he comes in and is ready to work he has the chance to earn any spot he wants."
Though the Bulls future with the draft night acquisitions of the offensive oriented White and defensive, shot blocking big man Gafford begin to present a picture of a new style Bulls team, one committed more to a faster pace of play, more scoring and shooting with the likes of Lauri Markkanen at forward with Otto Porter Jr. and the possibilities with two of the fastest and most athletic players in the NBA in Zach LaVine and White.
Paxson was quick to emphasize White is just 19 and that point guard is a difficult and complicated position. Though with a philosophy of various players making plays out of the backcourt with the ball handling abilities of LaVine, Markkanen and Porter and perhaps even Wendell Carter Jr., Paxson was creating a vision for the sort of high powered offensive team unknown to the Bulls franchise. Though popularized throughout the NBA in recent years and almost perfected with the three-time champion Warriors.
The focus of that desire comes with the addition of a player like White.
White falling to the Bulls at No. 7 in the draft was somewhat unexpected. But with trades, Minnesota moved ahead of the Bulls and selected shooting guard Jarrett Culver instead of a point guard, as expected. The Bulls leaped to grab White and then found Gafford in the second round as a lean 6-10 shot blocker who could match up with the taller centers.
White, though, eventually could be the turning point for the Bulls in finally establishing both a transition game and a transition from the play of the past.
"Very excited about them," said Paxson. "Point guard, shooting guard, as you know in our league today, lead guards tend to score and do a lot of different things on the floor. We feel he has the ability to score, handle. He's quick, fast, has positional size at 6-5. And Daniel Gafford is a tough minded young guy who can run the floor and protect the rim.
"He's (White) a 19-year-old young man; we have to keep that in mind," Paxson reminded. "Most of the guys in this draft are not finished products; not even close. Do we believe he will learn and grow? Absolutely. All our background on him is he is the type of young man who will take the challenge. Our job is to develop him and help him develop to be the best player he can be.
Coby White with a special message for all of Bulls Nation
"It's going to be a process, but feel we've added to our talent base and feel confident going into free agency and adding what can be really valuable pieces to this group," said Paxson. "We're still very young. We know this offseason we have to address some veteran players who can fit into the group we have, help us win basketball games. We're real excited about the possibilities, but this league is competitive. We've always understood it's difficult when you are young, but you can't keep using that excuse. We're looking to improve and be a team that competes every night because there are times we haven't competed at the level we need to.
"It's just a start to the offseason for us," said Paxson, "but we feel it's a really good start."