Ask Sam Mailbag: 01.18.19

After watching the Lakers game and reviewing box score from the loss to the Nuggets I see a team with no go-to guy and no special playmaker who can score and get others shots and make them better, no defense, no shooting. Where do we go from here with this team?

Craig Chandler

The sun'll come out Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar That tomorrow There'll be sun
Just thinkin' about Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs And the sorrow 'Til there's none
When I'm stuck a with day That's gray, And lonely
Carrying a nine-game losing streak and feeling eek!
I just stick out my chin And Grin, And Say,
Oh My
The sun'll come out Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on 'Til tomorrow Come what may
Tomorrow, tomorrow maybe they'll win tomorrow
You're always A day Away

Quvenzhané Wallis with an assist from Sam Smith

Head Coach Jim Boylen talks with Chandler Hutchison #15 of the Chicago Bulls during the game against the Washington Wizards on December 28, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.

I do not profess to be a NBA coach evaluator but it seems to me this team is not playing up to its potential. There certainly appears to be enough talent on this team to accidently win a game once in a while. The players seem upset about this especially after the Denver loss. I think it is not too early to judge Coach Boylen. From afar it seems this team is not responding to his coaching. My question is while I am a full fan of Paxson, I wonder why not name Boylen interim as most teams do instead of giving him a two year contract?
Dwayne Corry

Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine high five against the Denver Nuggets.

I know you don't pay too much attention to college hoops, what are your thoughts about Zion? I know a guy who knows a guy that says he may not be worth a long term investment due to his style of play and weight... his knees may not hold up. I personally think he may be a tweener... he may be too short for a power forward and he may be slow/ heavy for small forward. Great athlete and great college player, but I don't see him being close to a superstar in the NBA. if we end up with him, where does he play? Can he play small forward? We already have 2 guys at power forward in Markannen and Carter.
Joe Dobrzynski

Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Hawks on May 6, 1997 at the United Center in Chicago, IL.

Can your remember NBA players from former generations who seemed way too athletic and powerful for their body to handle the rigorous of the league longterm?
D-Rose comes to mind, Zion scares me, Larry Johnson?
Jordan and Lebron do not really qualify to me, they are exceptional athletes as well, but their bodies did not seem as freakish as Zion's and Rose's jump, stop and acceleration ability was off the charts.

Sven Ruppert

Wendell Carter Jr. #34 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the Golden State Warriors on January 11, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California.

Pundits everywhere, including those attached to the Bulls, are all salivating over Zion Williamson - and the Bulls are fast amassing a record that could make ZW a possibility in the next draft. My question is - in terms of fitting in with the Bulls - is Zion more of a short 4 on a team that seems all "4ed-up", or more of an oversized 3 who will have trouble guarding smaller, quicker players at that position? (a Jabari Parker with less range?). I know he's a talent, but who sits when he takes the floor and is he a Boylen-kind-of-guy?
Dennis Novak

Bobby Portis #5 of the Chicago Bulls plays defense against during the game against DeMarre Carroll #9 of the Brooklyn Nets on January 6, 2019 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

What a great job the Nets have done so far this year. After arguably the worst NBA trade ever in 2014 it appeared the Nets would take a decade to recover. They traded away their draft picks for 2014, 2016 and 2018. In addition Boston got to swap picks with them in 2017. Success didn't seem possible until they could finally get their draft picks from 2019 going forward. The playoffs, maybe in 2024. Halfway through the season and they are 23-23 after winning an amazing game against the Rockets. The GM, coach and team are to be congratulated. The are an incredibly resilient bunch of unrecognizable and discarded players. Treveon Graham, Joe Harris, Rodeons Kurucs, Jarret Allen and D'Angelo Russell were their starting lineup against the Rockets. Against the Rockets they were down by 14 with a few minutes to go in regulation and tied it. In overtime, they were down by 6 with about a minute to go and won it. They help define resilience. This team finally has their own 1st round pick this year and chose winning to tanking. They have skipped the tank to build a winning culture. Kudos to a really great team. Can you make your magic now happen for the Bulls?
Bruce Roberts

Jabari Parker #2 of the Chicago Bulls drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers on January 4, 2019 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

After reading your take on Jabari Parker being back in the rotation after their loss to the Lakers, it made me think back to when you've said you're not a fan of his demeanor towards the media. Too terse, always on the defensive, etc with Zach Lavine being basically the polar opposite. That said, It made me wonder who have been some of your favorite players to speak to over the years?
Nicholas Hill

Zach LaVine, Bobby Portis and Shaquille Harrison before the game against the Golden State Warriors.

I really don't have an opinion on Boylan yet as a coach, but I have read "experts" opinions on the internet which feel the Bulls young talent is not developing since he took over (They were all hurt under Hoiberg so nothing to really compare). Do you feel there is acceptable growth in the Bulls players as individuals and as a group under the watch?

Jason Doll

Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives against Shaquille Harrison #3 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on December 26, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

The Wolves (while not amazing) have twice as many wins as the Bulls while playing in the Western conference. Meanwhile, the Bulls are actually worse this year. If the future success of the Bulls (drafting Zion) has nothing to do with the assets/players acquired in the Butler trade doesn't that mean GarPax lost that transaction?
Matthew Ruth

Kris Dunn #32 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on January 17, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

I'm interested to see what happens the rest of this season. Apparently, Boylen will be gradually introducing more pace. Let's see how Dunn plays as that happens.I think he's a very solid player and that he can play faster than we've seen. But can he see the court well & drop dimes on the run? Can he take more 3's and still make a good % of them? It's hard to assess his fit into an offense they aren't really running yet. Hopefully, we'll know enough after 39 more games to make a sound decision. For that matter, if we draft a point guard it can still be a competition for the starting job. Dunn would be an awfully strong player to have coming off the bench. The great teams have player like that – who might start elsewhere – on their benches. Why not us? But from the Nuggets game there's no doubt in my mind now that the tank is on. Boylen's comments are a dead give-away. Yes, it's "a season of discovery"… yet another one. Anyway, I'm giving the game ball to RoLo – 17 & 6 in 19 min. on 8-10 shooting plus some nice intangibles. Everybody else mostly stunk.
Art Alenik

Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on January 17, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

Who is Zach Lavine as a ball player or are you still waiting to see? He is having a good statistical year and the team is not winning. I see a talented offensive player with an innate ability to score and on the defensive end someone who will not be a difference maker. Will he be more than a great scorer? Is it fair to start the Jamal Crawford comparisons and if that's the career he has, is it good enough for the Bulls to continue to keep him on their rebuilding roster? If he continues to put up just under 24, 4, and 4, will there be serious suitors on the trade market? Is he the person the Bulls should be building a team around or will his need to have the ball on the offensive end, hinder the progression of young players?
Tim Koncel

Chandler Hutchison shoots the ball against the Utah Jazz.

Its not so much the recent turmoil that has made me anxious about the rebuild it's just that even on a "good" night (not getting blown out at Utah on 2nd if back to back), the way the bulls are losing - take 9 more shots shoot a decent percentage but make 9 fewer 3s - is troubling given both the analytics or really, math (you can score more counting by 3s) and trends in the nba. In other words - isn't the urgent need drafting or signing guys who either can hit the 3 or have potential to be good 3 point shooters. I suppose if valentine can come back he would fit that description.
Guy Danilowitz

Robin Lopez #42 of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot over Juancho Hernangomez #41 of the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center on January 17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

The Bulls now reportedly refuse to buy out lopez if he cant be dealt knowing he is going to the Warriors. Will garpax throw away a couple million over this fight and not buy him out since he obviously has zero trade value? Or is he the head of the "leadership council" so someone we need to play out his contract? Maybe we can do lopez a favor a favor, give him his entire salary in a buyout so we can get another extended run of felicio playing 20-30 minutes a night....need to see how his development is coming along again....or just burn that money too with asiks and jabaris and cam paynes and play carter jr 48 minutes a night?
Jake Henry

Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball during the game against the Utah Jazz on January 12, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

With your comments on how sloppy Gobert was and with what should be a realization that, against the better 7 foot centers, Wendell Carter may always be overmatched, I have to respond to a comment you made a couple of weeks ago regarding a player who is truly a top 3 center in the league, Nikola Jokic.
After watching him destroy Portland with a 40/10/8 performance, I think that you need to make an effort to actually watch a few Nuggets games so you can make a more informed assessment. In doing so, he totally outplayed the guy who should be the Bulls starting center, Jusuf Nurkic, who is averaging 15.2/10.2/1.36Blks in just 27 minutes per game. Jokic 19.7/10.2/7.6 with a career .356 3PT% is far more valuable to his team than any other center including Embiid. His 21 career triple doubles in 270 games places him second all time behind Wilt's 78 which, if he stays healthy until he is 30, he will eclipse.

Peggy Flynn

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors puts up a shot over Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

While I used to enjoy the three-point shot I've come to dislike them over the past five years or so as the league as gone so heavily towards them. I don't so much mind that the big man has been de-emphasized, though I wasn't rooting for that either. The NBA has always been my favorite sport/league to watch as it has the best athletes in the world, and because they're not wearing helmets or padding, you can really see that athleticism displayed every game. All the three-point shooting has reduced the number of times per game that players are attacking the hoop and thus displaying their otherworldly natural talents. Of course they still do so some, but now it seems the top goal is to draw contact and a foul and actually attempting to make the shot is just a bonus. Much like baseball has become too much about home run, strikeout or walk, basketball is too much three point shot or free throws. I may be a bit hyperbolic but the emphasis on efficiency in sports - which I understand makes sense in terms of impacting winning - is making them less aesthetically pleasing and thus less fun to watch.
Steph Curry is great and fun to watch, but in terms of his natural athletic and physical talents, where do you think he'd have stacked up in the NBA of the 80s and 90s?

Cameron Watkins

Head coach Jim Boylen of the Chicago Bulls works the sidelines against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

What is Boylen doing with these rotations? We leaves the starters in deep each game, evidenced by the game against the Nuggets when Lavine, Dunn, and Markkanen were all on the court with 6:30 left in the 4th down 35. Also, in the beginning of the 3rd, (which is when most teams go on their run) Boylen usually keeps the starters in for the first 8 minutes with no subs, allowing the Bulls to get blown out. The lineup of Dunn, Lavine, Hutch, Markkanen, and Carter is -29 in terms of point differential. This is not something that should be happening with the talent. It's time to stop allowing the starters to continue to make mistakes and let the rest of the bench contribute, as they have recently outplayed the opponent's bench

Adam Richard