The Bulls earned a much needed blow out at the United Center last night, crushing the struggling Kings. The man perhaps most responsible? Tony Snell.
Pau Gasol led the Bulls in scoring with 26 and had a brilliant night. Derrick Rose was an efficient 10/17 from the field for 23 points and chipped in seven assists. However, it was Tony Snell's career high 24 points on 9/11 shooting that really pushed the Bulls over the edge.
With Jimmy Butler sitting the entire second half with a strained shoulder that appeared to be hurt running into a brutal DeMarcus Cousins pick, Tony Snell picked up the mandatory 40+ minute wing player role and gave the Bulls 41 minutes.
His 24 points was a new career high just two games after falling a basket short of his career high. In those two games, Snell was on fire beyond the arc shooting a combined 9/12. Snell looks like he's taken a bit of arc off of a three point shot that actually had too much arc to improve form.
It remains to be seen if he can add some consistency to his shot, but he's shooting 36.5% from the three point line now which is passable and only a few percentage points away from pretty good. It's worth noting that he typically only shoots wide open threes which makes him more of a Bogans type shooter even if he gets his percentage up.
However, it's not his torrid three point shooting stretch that gives me pause about his career prospects, as noted, I just compared him to Bogans, but it's his defense and basket slashing. Snell's defensive awareness has improved tremendously over the past year and while he's not a lock down defender, gone is the guy who consistently went to the wrong spot.
His aggressiveness on the court has improved tremendously, and this was the one area that I had a really high level of concern with. In his rookie season, his mentality was very passive on both ends of the floor, but that has completely turned around this season.
He's aggressive defensively, aggressive at chasing loose balls or rebounds, and when he gets the ball on offense he makes quick, good decisions. He shoots if open, cuts when there is a seam, and passes if he doesn't have anything.
He rarely tries to do too much, and because he's making quick decisions he puts pressure on the defense despite pedestrian offensive skills because the ball doesn't stick to him to give the defense a chance to pause.
I'm not saying Tony Snell is destined to become a star, but he was a player I had completely given up on and considered a bust. I'm rethinking that view. He's shown some significant strengths recently, and if he can continue to improve a then he could fill that 3D role he was drafted for.
I thought with his combination of size and skills that he compared well with Courtney Lee, a player the Bulls could surely have used over the years even if he was a pure role player. Recently, Snell's started to look pretty similar. Let's see if he can keep it up and whether or not Tom Thibodeau will give him the chance.
Either way, Snell's improvements come at a good time for Chicago if they want to consider a trade. While I like what I've seen from Snell, if Chicago wants to trade for immediate help then Snell now looks like a young cheap asset instead of a long shot.
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