Internal improvements: What to expect?

Internal improvements: What to expect?

Since the season ended for the Bulls, this is the questions that's been lingering in my mind the most, ignoring the whole Thibodeau debacle. Just how far can the likes of Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic, and Doug McDermott go if given the minutes and the chance to develop? Mirotic and Snell obviously both have a serious leg up on McDermott in the minutes department (2,643 minutes for Snell, 1,654 for Mirotic, and 321 for McDermott), but neither has the shooting touch nor craftiness, which should serve McBuckets well in his second season. To be fair, this was probably a dropped ball for Thibs during this season. We all understand the concept of winning, and getting a high seed, but 321 minutes? That's 2nd round draft pick volume.

So I guess on some level, we're sort of forced to turn the debate slightly back to Thibs and the possible hire of Fred Hoiberg. My colleague over at BBallBreakdown, Kelly Scaletta, wrote this piece for Today's Fast Break which details Hoiberg's potential impact on the Bulls. What's interesting to note about that breakdown, is how one could see McDermott, Snell, Mirotic, Jimmy Butler, and even Derrick Rose thrive in such a free-flowing offense. Lots of screens, lots of movement, pin-downs, early shot clock scoring, weakside spacing, it really has everything.

But more so than the perfect system, these guys will have to be mentally ready to play. McDermott is a huge question mark. No one really knows if his confidence took a hit due to all the benching this season. Mirotic struggled in the playoffs, and had some pretty remarkable bricks when left wide open. Snell couldn't carry his offensive efficiency over from the regular season, and looked lost when he shot was off. All worrying signs,

Summer League in Las Vegas is always nice to look forward to, but even if someone dominates, it doesn't necessarily mean it will carry over. Case in point:

But even so, it'd make sense giving Snell a third try in that setting, especially alongside McDermott and possibly even Mirotic, who is unlikely to participate given his professional resumé. Having those three play alongside each other, even in a Summer League setting, could prove somewhat beneficial in the long-term, as they probably will share the floor together next season at various times. Plus, it'd be especially good for McDermott in getting some actual game time under him. The last time he played more than 10 minutes in a game was March 13th, which will be almost four full months separated from Summer League action. He needs this.

Going back to expectations however, obviously coaching plays a factor. Projecting any sort of statistical output is damn-near impossible, but there are some goals I'd be expecting to see if I'm the Bulls:

- McDermott being able to play six to eight minute stretches without hurting the defense, and presenting himself as a scoring option, especially from deep.

- Mirotic settling down and taking more calculated shots, instead of either rushing them or turning them down. Simple basketball is the name of the game for him.

- Snell playing more on the ball. His handles aren't elite, but he's capable of creating offense off the bounce every now and then. If this could become a permanent attribute to his game, the second unit would be better off.

Which areas are you guys hoping to see improved from these three?


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  • The rumors of Thibs staying or going is getting interesting by the day. A couple days ago Stacy King said on the ESPN radio that he would be very surprised if Thibs is not coaching the Bulls next year after being very close to the team for the entire season. And rumors of Orlando or Lakers trying to lure Thibs have also been out of proportion. With that said, if Thibs is to stay with the Bulls next year, he needs to change his offensive approach to better utilize McD, Niko and Snell through their capacities. Thibs has to accept an offensive minded assistant coach. McD and Niko specially can become elite offense players if they ran a Spurs like offense. If Thibs is the Bulls coach next year, hopefully he learned from this past season. Otherwise, his credibility and marketability will be drastically damaged and the Bulls will be his last head coach job.

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    In reply to BullsDynasty:

    Face it the bench players sucked, except Niko and Brooks. Dougie is only 1 dimensional and the rest call a dump truck in and clear them out.

  • I hear Thibs is not even playing a role in the pre-draft workouts. I mean, it's one thing to have Randy Brown run the show, but I would say the fact that Thibs is not even around is an ominous sign that something's up? Does anyone recall if he played a larger role in this process last year?

    I sure hope they don't bring him back bc they are cheap - and don't want to pay 2 coaches. This could happen if nobody wants to trade picks for Thibs and NO does not hire Thibs.

    Again, after watching GS-Houston, I cringe at the thought of another season under Thibs. Open it up, play free, fast-paced. If you are open early in the clock, shoot! (No wonder Mirotic hesitates so much!!!)

    Regarding McD, he was hurt early in the season, and that could have been bothering him well before the actual surgery. Also, when Dunleavy was out, McD was not even back healthy from his surgery. Then, it's probably Feburary and maybe close to March by the time McD is 100% and by then Thibs maybe wrote him off? Or, maybe his confidence was shot already they just shut him down? It's curious that they did not send him to the D league.

    IMO, Thibs needed to give McD a look during the regular season - 5 minutes here, 6 minutes there. I mean, couldn't Thibs get him in against the Sixers, Lakers or Magic? The guy scored nearly 30ppg in college so you'd think he could hold his own against lower-end NBA talent.

  • I think McDermott can regain his confidence, but I think he should only be on the floor when there is another viable 3-point shooter also on the floor. Decent NBA defenses can almost always shut down one 3-pt. specialist, but if a team has multiple 3-pt. threats on the floor at the same time it makes the defense's task much more difficult.

    Remember the 2011 ECF? At the end of those games the Heat made Korver almost literally disappear. He barely caught the ball, let alone getting a shot off. He was the only deep threat the Heat had to worry about and they made sure he wouldn't beat them. Now one could dismiss that comparison by saying that was at the highest level of competition, but isn't that what we are talking about here? The Bulls need to show that in the most pressure-filled moments and against the best competition they can generate better offense than a heavily contested 2-pt. jump shot with the shot clock at one second.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    Totally agree. If you get 4-5 shooters on the court together who are not superior "creators" on their own, they can all open up the floor with better spacing and make each other better.

  • I continue to be luke-warm on Snell. I know he had a great stretch around the all-star break, but I'm always surprised when he plays well. He is either on fire, or missing horribly. Each game he shoots an airball or total brick at least once, even if he's on.

    He has great size and length and he's young - turning 24 in Nov. I think after next year we will know what we have with Snell.

    Overall, it's hard to jump right into Thib's offense since it's so structured, with so many play calls.

  • In reply to Granby:

    The other thing Snell does at least once a game besides airball a trey is make a play going to the basket. Especially after he misses one badly his next possession he'll either drive to the rim where he has exceptional touch as a finisher or drop a dime to a teammate for an easy score.

  • I've never been a fan of coaching changes. Sometimes coaches are simply the victims of unfortunate circumstances such as injuries to the wrong players at the wrong time, and too often coaches are used as scapegoats to cover front offices failures. In this case I feel the problem is two-fold. It's easy for everyone to just point all the fingers at Thibs because he's the one out in the open, the face that everyone sees. Almost like the president. It's easy for everyone to point fingers at Obama for all the worlds problems because he's the face people recognize as president, but like Thibs he's not making every single decision on his own. Not saying that Thibs hands are clean but I'm saying his hands aren't the only ones dirty. It's no coincidence we always run into this problem with our coaches somewhere down the line. Just something to think about.

    As for Snell, McDermott and Mirotic, it's only right to give each of these guys another chance. At one point I had all but gave up on Snell, but there were times in the regular season where he showed flashes of potential. One thing that all three of these players have in common is their performance directly reflects their confidence at the time. It seems like the more they play the more confidence they get, and that's when their games really start to shine. Nobody even knew what we had in Mirotic until March when nearly all the main guys on the team was injured. He was getting 30+ minutes a night and was leading the NBA in scoring, that's something that shouldn't be ignored. McD is more of a wild card. He could either become a serious threat if his shooting stroke ever translates, or he could become a defensive liability. I don't have a lot of confidence in his athleticism especially at the position he plays. Maybe a little added muscle would help him out.

    Two other players I'd like to see get another shot is Cameron Bairstow and ETwaun Moore. At 6'9, 250 pounds the Bairstow is solid. He's also a lot quicker than he looks. All he needs to do is learn to use his size to his advantage and he should have no problem finding a role in the NBA. He needs to be a bully on the boards. I'm also in line with bringing back Moore. In my opinion he was our most well rounded guard of the bench this season. Everyone saying they would like us to get a combo guard to come off the bench but we already have one. He's much better defensively than Hinrich, Brooks, and Snell, and offensively he can knock down shots. I really feel that Moore should have gotten all Hinrich's minutes in the playoffs. Even though it would have been only a minor improvement it could have made a difference. And that's where Moore is a keeper IMO. He's a difference maker. We just need a coach that will give him a chance.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    I agree with two things that you said. These guys need playing time. I'm not saying they need to play 15 minutes every game, but give them stretches of 5 minutes no and then. I thought, as you did, that Snell should have played more. I would have given him Hinrich's minutes (I don't think he was used as a PG at all).
    Also agree that Moore should be used more. He seems to talented to be used as a victory cigar.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    Don't bring politics into the conversation. Especially a comparison using dear leader..

  • I think that all three could benefit from a change. Mirotic just needs fredom, in my opinion. He needs to play PF only, and keep shooting. I am interested to see if his percentages go up in season two. I've heard that foreign players take time to get comfortable with the NBA ball. Snell needs consistency more than anything. I've always felt he has the talent to be good, he just needs to believe it. He needs to know that if he makes a mistake or misses a shot, that he won't be benched for three games. McDermott is the big mystery. He needs to get on the court for a few minutes every game. Maybe the coaches already saw all they needed to in practice, but it's hard to believe his shot can't help the team.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Rumor was McD was regularly hitting 30 3s in a row in practice! He needed game time to get comfortable.

    Thibs should have developed these guys even if it cost the team 10 regular season wins. They were/are the future.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    You're probably referring to Sam Smith's mailbag response from May 8th:

    "I’ve watched [McDermott] in the short media sessions after practice; he’s slimmed down, stronger and the best shooter on the team by far. I routinely see him knock in 25 or 30 threes in a row."

  • In reply to Mongoose:

    Thank you. Clearly, McDermott has talent. It's the job of the coaches to see that talent utilized to the full.

    I realize that McD was hurt this season, but still ... Lose a few games to develop M and M. It might have bought the Bulls a title this year!

  • I'm as ready to move on from.the Thibs era as anyone. But I still don't buy that he was purposefully sitting on McDermott last year. Niko? Yes? Doug? I don't think so. The fact is Doug was injured coming into the season (broken nose in summer league) and then lost more time with another injury just about til the all-star break. Expecting a rookie to become a reliable playoff contributor in less than half a healthy season is ridiculous. He was never going to be in the playoff rotation so why give him minutes down the stretch in the regular season? I get the minutes criticisms around Snell, Niko and Kirk but Doug's situation was different.

  • Checked out that piece you referenced from fastbreak and found this article reassessing the Doug McDermott trade. Still can't believe that we had to give up 5 draft picks to move up 5 spots.

    It included this little nugget about Gary Harris, a player that some/many people on this site really pumped up, and one of the 2 players that we "traded" for McDNP, the other being Nurkic, who right about now would look pretty good in a Bulls uni.

    "Harris was atrocious in limited minutes this season, finishing with a -12.8 NetRtg, per His negative impact was probably a result of his terrible shooting. He shot 21-103 (20.4 percent) from three, which, according to Basketball-Reference, was the second-worst three-point percentage among players with at least 100 attempts. That’s right, Lance Stephenson was the only player who shot worse".

    Besides the fact that it's hard to believe that Stephenson(another guy I didn't like) shot that poorly, as a non college basketball fan I thought that Harris looked like nothing more than a midget who couldn't shoot. Hopefully McDNP eventually turns out to be better than that guy, even if we lost out on Nurkic, and Rodney Hood was available at the 19th pick. Like I said before, I sure hope that McD finds a way to spend the offseason working with Ray Allen on his game as well as his diet and conditioning program.

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    I doubt that we'll see Snell and Mirotic playing in the Summer league this yr. Snell is going into his 3rd yr, and Niko was 1st team All Rookie. McDermott on the other hand has a lot to prove.

    McDermott's has to work on his ball handling and of course defense. He also has to be able to knock down shots. If he was such a great shooter, he would've been playing more even if he couldn't guard a blind man w/ one prosthetic leg. Scorers are in huge demand around the NBA, and often times McDermott found himself more of a passer and slasher than a shooter.

    I wouldn't put too much stock in Niko's poor playoff performances. He's a rookie and he's excused from not putting up 20 pts in 12 mins like during the regular season. Now Noah, Brooks, and Taj's play during the playoffs is much more concerning. Niko could work on his consistency and adjust to being a starter, but overall he is well on his way to becoming an All Star.

    I'm not sure the Bulls should hold onto Snell anymore. He has improved, and might improve even more with the Bulls, but they could use another 2/3 player, and should look to find one in the draft.

  • All of these guys have talent, but the problem is that even at their very best, they are going to be the fourth option next year behind Gasol, Butler, and Rose. So the challenge for them is learning how to be ready to make a shot or a play when they only get a look every fifth or sixth trip down the court. Because Snell has the attributes to be a lockdown defender, I think that gives him the inside track to be a starter next year if Thibs is gone and Dunleavy isn't resigned. McBuckets best chance is to be the scorer off of the bench, kind of like Mirotic, but as a SF instead of a stretch 4. And with Mirotic on the roster, there really isn't any reason to go small and play McBuckets at the 4. There is a lot of overlap with those three guys, somewhat to their detriment.

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