JaKarrSampson

The Bulls went 1-2 this past week. Losing to the New York Knicks (113-105), dramatically beating the Washington Wizards (115-114), and falling flat at home against the Philadelphia ‘76ers (116-96). This weeks worth of games featured Robin Lopez and the Windy City Call Ups. I expect the crew of Walter Lemon Jr, Brandon Sampson, JaKarr Sampson and Rawle Alkins will also play big minutes in the last two games of the season. Alright, let’s get into it…

An awful 1st quarter resulted in the loss to the Knicks on Monday night. New York outscored Chicago 37-19 in the 1st quarter. If the Bulls hadn’t gotten off to such a rotten start the outcome of the game may have been a bit different. Robin Lopez poured in 29 points on 12-18 shooting, JaKarr Sampson came off the bench and added 22 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome that first quarter deficit.

Wednesday’s win against the Washington Wizards was wild. Walter Lemon Jr led the Bulls in scoring with 24 points, including nailing two clutch free throws in the closing seconds to seal the game. It was a good team effort, with 7 different players scoring in the double digits for the Bulls. The back and forth affair highlighted the hunger of the Bulls G-League call ups and back of the rotation players, as well as the complete despondency of the Wizards.

Saturday’s loss to the ‘76ers was a ho-hum blow out. Philadelphia did a good job of gradually building a lead over the course of the game. They took advantage of a poor 3rd quarter by the Bulls, and stretched their modest 8 point half-time lead to an 18 point gap at the start of the 4th. How many times this season has a bad quarter sunk the Bulls? The answer is, “All of the times.”

MVP of the Week: JaKarr Sampson

Windy City Bulls forward JaKarr Sampson was playing for an NBA contract next season. He’s been all over the court and the stat sheet these past three games…

vs the Knicks: 22 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block

vs the Wizards: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals

vs the ‘76ers: 29 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks

Most people may remember JaKarr Sampson as the unfortunate victim of a wicked Zach LaVine poster dunk last season…

The dunk was so vicious many of us questioned whether JaKarr Sampson still had an NBA soul, or had LaVine damned it to the depths of the G-League for all eternity.

LaVine hadn’t.

The fact is, JaKarr Sampson has improved as a basketball player since last season. In his short stint with the Bulls this week, he has shown an upgraded ability to finish at the rim, take and make mid-range shots, and also hit three pointers. Last season he was little more than a dunker and high energy defender, now he has done a very good job developing every portion of his offensive game while maintaining his energy on defense. If JaKarr can continue to play at this elevated level, there is no reason he can’t be a full time NBAer.

 

Stat of the Week: 4th place

The Bulls have finally solidified their place in the lottery drawing. They own the 4th worst record in the NBA, and with only 2 games left in their season, it is no longer possible to move up or down from that position. The Bulls are locked in to a 12.5% chance at landing the #1 pick in the draft, a 48.1% chance at landing a top 4 pick, and the farthest they can fall, after the lottery balls settle, is #8 overall. They are also the current owners of the #39 pick overall (the 9th pick in the second round of the draft), but that pick could improve if the Memphis Grizzlies lose, and the Pelicans and Wizards win, their remaining games.

Mercifully, we are nearly done with the season. Just two more games left, a Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back against the Knicks and ‘76ers. What a way to end the season. Before I conclude for the week, another victory means another improvement in individual Win Share…

Win Share Leaders: Catching Bobby Portis (3.5)

1. Ryan Arcidiacono – 3.5!!!

2. Zach LaVine – 2.9

3. Lauri Markkanen – 2.8

One more week of this. Thanks for reading, and GO BULLS!