Paxson and Prospects

Gar Forman, John Paxson, and Jim Boylen address the world during Media Day 2019.

Last year, 29 games into the season, the Bulls had a 6-23 record. Two years ago, the record was 9-20. This year, the Bulls are 10-19. The difference between these three seasons is that the first two were Tank years, losing was expected and welcomed. This year, a trip to the playoffs was the goal. “High, high levels” of competitiveness were supposed to have been reached.

This season has been a big disappointment.

I can’t emphasize it enough: A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!!!

I want to hold onto hope that the Bulls can start winning games and become playoff contenders, but I’m at a point where I think it might be better to “wait til next year.”

I’m sitting in front of my computer wondering if I should write this post about the interviews John Paxson gave to members of the print media last week, or do I start throwing out names of intriguing prospects for next years draft. This is a very frustrating time to follow the Bulls.

I really want to talk about the draft prospects, but the Paxson interviews are usually a hoot.

Too be honest, I’m tired of bagging on GarPax. I’m sick of screaming into the void about how bad these two executives are, especially at building the “culture of winning” that has eluded this team since Tom Thibodeau, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Derrick Rose left it all on the floor together. The truth is, this team hasn’t had a winner since Jimmy Butler.

Here are a few of the talking points found in all the interviews John Paxson gave:

1) It’s “his” fault this season has gone so poorly. He “owns” it.

2) He didn’t anticipate it would take players this long to learn a new offensive and defensive system.

3) He is still very committed to Jim Boylen. They talk every day. And Jim Boylen is under contract.

4) John Paxson sits in on practices and film sessions and doesn’t see the things that Boylen tries to implement carried over into games. So the players are really to blame for how poorly this season is going. They aren’t playing well enough. Otto Porter Jr is injured.

Like I said, a hoot.

The best way for the Bulls to get back into contention is for Paxson to hire a competent head coach with a proven track record of developing young players and bringing teams to the playoffs. Then Paxson has to get the F out of the way and let the coach coach. He doesn’t need to be at practices or film sessions looking over the teams shoulder. He shouldn’t be dictating lineups and rotations, or lurking in the background like a school principle observing an unruly class and it’s frazzled teacher.

Paxson should focus on finding and acquiring talented basketball players for his equally talented coach.

Enough of that malarkey.

Here are three prospects for the 2020 NBA Draft that have jumped out at me, and who the Bulls should be keeping an eye on:

1) Tyrese Haliburton

6’5” Point Guard

College team: Iowa State

19 years old

I know, I know, Iowa State, but don’t let that deter you from seeing this kid play. He is an excellent passer, displays decent dribbling skills, and can score from all three levels. On defense he has some skill, and his size gives him the potential to guard multiple positions. I’ve only watched a little bit of him playing for Iowa State, but what I’ve seen I’ve liked. I think he can run an NBA offense, and he doesn’t need to shoot the ball all the time. He might be a great running mate for Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and even Coby White. I’d love to see what this kid could do in pick-and-roll with Wendell Carter Jr, Markkanen, and especially Daniel Gafford. Here’s a way too early highlight video…

2) Josh Green

6’6” Shooting Guard/Wing

College team: Arizona

19 years old

Josh Green could be the next great lottery pick to come out of Arizona. I started watching Arizona games for their point guard Nico Mannion (who could also be very good), but my attention kept focusing on Green. He’s a scorer, who mostly plays the 2 guard next to Mannion. This might pose an issue with Zach LaVine on the Bulls roster, but I think Green could be that second scoring threat the Bulls desperately need in the lineup next to Zach. He can score from all three levels, and in a variety of ways. He has the size and strength to finish through contact, he gets out in front of defenders on the fast break and finishes with dunks at the rim. Like all prospects he’ll need some adjustment to his defensive game when he reaches the pros, but I think he’ll have a long career in the NBA. He’s a baller.

3) Killian Hayes

6’5” Point Guard

Club team: Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)

18 years old

Hayes is already a great passer at 18 years old. He has fantastic court vision, and even better touch on his passes. He and Haliburton will probably be the best passers available in the Draft, assuming they both come out for it. Hayes has incredible dribbling skills to go along with his passing, and he can score from almost anywhere on the court. He and Haliburton have a lot of similarities in their offensive skill sets. The big question mark I have for Hayes is his defense. From what I’ve seen, he tends to take plays off, and rarely challenges opponents if they get within 5’ of the rim. Maybe he’s worried about picking up fouls, or maybe he doesn’t see the point in challenging two easy points when he can get them back on the next offensive possession, either way it’s troubling. He does play the passing lanes well, and a lot of his defensive highlights are just that, intercepting passes and turning them into fast break points. I really love what Hayes can do on offense, and I think he could fit well on the Bulls. I hope they’re scouting him.

That’s all for today. Paxson is still feeding us garbage talking points in his interviews, and I’m turning my attention to the future of the team. Until next time, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!