Tag: Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen Out 6-8 Weeks, Now What?

Lauri Markkanen suffered an unfortunate injury during practice that will keep him out 6-8 weeks. To give the injury some perspective, here is a tweet from Jeff Stotts.


The 6 week mark will be 11/9/18 and the 8 week mark will be 11/23/18. Assuming he will miss the same amount time as Batum, Lauri will miss all of preseason, and about 12-15 games in the regular season. This is a big blow for the Bulls, as Markkanen is one of the cornerstone pieces of this current rebuild. Hoiberg’s rotation will now need to change, and luckily for him he has options.

Markkanen was expected to start at PF, but the Bulls will now have to replace him. The Bulls have Bobby Portis who can play the position, and has started there in the past. But Portis played well in his 6th man role, and even mentioned he likes the role. “I like the role, I get to come off the bench and score a lot. Who doesn’t like that role?” Portis said that before the season on his upcoming 6th man role. Portis fits nicely in that role, as he brings scoring to the 2nd unit. And if anything else, tons of energy. I feel the 6th man role is perfect for Portis at this point. But what other options do the Bulls have?

The Bulls signed forward Jabari Parker this off-season. While the plans were to start Parker at the SF position, the 4 year forward has played most of his career at the 4. And for what it’s worth, has had most of his success. The idea of moving Parker down to the 4 seems to make the most sense, as you know he would be comfortable there and is best there. And we already know Portis is comfortable off the bench. The only problem that would create is who starts at the SF position?

The Bulls have 3 options; Justin Holiday, Chandler Hutchison, and Denzel Valentine. Valentine suffered a mild ankle sprain in practice the other day, and he will be out 1-2 weeks. He should be ready for the regular season, but will miss some of the preseason. Holiday and Hutchison will get the 1st opportunity to start and impress in preseason. Hutchison is a rookie, so I would expect to see Holiday starting at the 3 Sunday in the Bulls 1st preseason game. But what do each of the 3 bring to the starting unit?

Justin Holiday: Holiday started 72 games for the Bulls last season, but in a slightly different role. The Bulls started last season short handed, and Holiday was asked to do more than he is capable of. Through the first 23 games last season, Holiday averaged 14 points a game. But was really inefficient as he shot 37% from the field, 35% from 3, a true shooting % of 49.6% and an usage of 20.7%. But the next 25 games the Bulls were healthier but more importantly had more talent around Holiday. With lesser of a role and attention on him, Holiday’s numbers improved. He averaged 12.7 ppg, less than before, but he was more efficient. He shot 40% from the field,  42% from 3, a true shooting % of 57.0 with a usage of 16.0%. It is clear with talent surrounding Holiday, he can do what he is most comfortable doing. Which is catch and shoot, rather forcing up shots with the shot clock running down. Less usage for Holiday is good, and that is what he would have in the starting lineup.

Denzel Valentine: Denzel started 37 games for the Bulls last season, and was better as a starter than a bench player.


What is not listed there is the usage. Valentine as a starter had a usage of 16.4%, and with the bench had a usage of 18.5% off the bench. And a true shooting % of 55.3% starting vs 50.1% off the bench. Clearly with talent around him, Valentine can give average efficiency and shoot above average from 3. Valentine also provides good rebounding, gathering 17% of his team’s defensive rebounds, which is top in the league at his position. He also was responsible for 18% of his team’s assist when out there, which for his position was also top in the NBA.

Chandler Hutchison: Hutchison is a rookie, so we don’t have much to judge him on. Summer league showed us a little bit. He was 2nd on the team in assist, he showed an ability to handle the ball and find the open/cutting man. He made 8 of 16 threes, but struggled from everywhere else shooting 33% when he wasn’t shooting a 3. Hutchison was labeled a wing player with good defensive potential, and he showed potential this summer league. That is Hutchison’s biggest argument to start, as he can be a better defender than both Holiday and Valentine. And with Lavine and Parker, having a good wing defender is necessary.

I ideally want to start Hutchison because of his defensive potential, which I see being a big need from that 3 position. But I want him to earn it, I want to see him play well in preseason before giving it to him. We don’t know how good he will be right away, throwing him out and just hoping he can be good could hurt his development. To me until he proves it, this is between Holiday and Valentine. And at this point I would start Holiday at the 3 and move Parker to the 4 following this Markkanen injury. Neither are an ideal 3, I prefer to have Valentine’s play making on the 2nd unit where it is more needed. Let Holiday start, and expect more efficiency from him with Lavine, Parker, and hopefully a better offensive player in Kris Dunn.

How Good Can Bobby Portis Become Offensively?

The 3rd year player Bobby Portis has had a solid 2017-18 season. He is finally getting over 20 minutes per game, and is showing he can be a productive offensive player. Let’s look at Portis’ career numbers.

Portis Numbers

You can see with minutes, Portis is showing his offensive potential. For a big he is a decent shooter, he gets offensive rebounds, and can get 15-20 points in starter minutes. Here’s a quick look at Portis’ per 36 minutes numbers.

Portis per 36.png

The per 36 stats just gives you an idea with more minutes, what Bobby can do. No it doesn’t necessarily mean he will put up these exact numbers. I do think however it’s fair to say with about 25 minutes plus a game, Portis is good for 15 points or more on average. Portis has shown he can be a solid offensive player, but the question really is how good can Portis become? Could he become a reliable starter? Or could he even become an All-Star? A more in-depth look at how he gets his points will help us figure out his potential.

Looking into Portis’ numbers, it’s clear he likes to shoot the ball away from the rim more than the average big.

Portis shooting freqency.png

The chart you see is from Cleaning The Glass. It is a site run by Ben Falk, previous Vice President of Basketball Strategy for the Philadelphia 76ers, and former basketball analytics manager of the Portland Trail Blazers. The stats from this chart exclude “garbage time stats”. You can see here what garbage time is defined as,  garbage time. Portis shoots 38% of his shots at the rim, which is below average compared to his position. You see he shoots 26% of his shots from 3 which is above average and 36% from mid-range which is above average at his position. Portis unlike most bigs, relies on outside shooting just as much as at the rim shooting. Let’s take a quick look at how he shoots from each of these areas.

Portis accuracy.png

You can see why Portis likes to shoot as many jump shoots as he does. At the rim Portis shoots 57% which is in the bottom % compared to his position. Portis is a good mid-range shooter though as you see he is in the top % compared to his position from there. From 3 he is slightly below average. We will dive deeper into whether or not Portis can improve at the rim, but looking at these stats his game reminds me of someone similar. Someone who is a former 4 time All-Star. That player is Paul Millsap.

I’m talking about the Paul Millsap from 2013-14 to now. The Paul Millsap who became a better shooter once he signed with Atlanta. Let’s take a quick look at how Millsap likes to score. Here is where he likes to shoot from since 2013.

Millsap 2.png

You can see the numbers are very similar to Portis. Millsap takes more shots from mid range, than he does at the rim. For a big, Millsap shoots a lot of jump shots. Let’s take a look at how he shoots from these areas.

Millsap 3

The numbers are very similar between Portis and Millsap. They both shoot about the same from 3. They both like to rely on jump shots really when you break it down. For 4 seasons in Atlanta, Paul Millsap was an All-Star. Let’s take a quick look at those numbers.

Millsap ATL

These are Millsap’s numbers all four All-Star seasons. When you compare these numbers to Portis’ per 36 numbers, they really start to look similar.

Portis per 36

The question becomes can Portis be as good as Millsap? What are the differences between their games? One thing difference you notice is Millsap gets to the line more than Portis. Let’s take a look at their drawing shooting foul numbers.

Portis foul.png

Millsap foul.png

Looking at the SFLD%(shows the % of the shots player is fouled on), clearly Millsap gets to the line more than Portis. One of the reason for this is likely speed. Millsap blows by his man more, which causes defenders to foul him more than they would with Portis. Defenders are caught out of position more guarding Millsap. This is important because neither are great shooters. Not just relying on shooing and being able to get to the line produces more consistent numbers, which has helped Millsap put up All-Star numbers.

But one advantage Bobby Portis has over Millsap is offensive rebounding. Portis offensive rebounds 10% of his team’s misses, which is way above average for his position. Being able to rebound and get easy baskets should help Portis, but he needs to get better around the rim. You saw as we talked earlier, Portis doesn’t finish well around the rim. But why is that? It seems to me it is mainly a lack of explosion. He is athletic but just not explosive. He also struggles to finish over players with similar or longer height. Here are a few examples of this:

I don’t expect Portis to ever become great under the rim, or even good. But he needs to get closer to average for his position. Getting stronger, working on jumping, and getting better footwork will help Portis. I also think getting more comfortable with his left will help a lot. Portis at times forces shots with his right, when the shot would be easier with his left. Working on these little things can get Portis 2-6 extra points a game.

I think the potential for Portis to become good offensively is there. The things I would like to see Portis improve is his shooting, footwork down low, his left hand, his strength, jumping, and offensive awareness.

I think Portis can become a better shooter than Millsap. He is a better free throw shooter, and I do believe Portis has a nice shot. I think the more he works on his shot, he can become closer to a 38%-40% shooter from distance. Footwork down low can improve which ties in with his left. Portis most of time is looking to finish right. All his set up moves in the post are to set him up going right. Defenders know this and will play him that way, getting them to respect his left will only help his game. Getting stronger comes with age, and the stronger Portis becomes the more separation he will be able to get for his shot down low. And just offensive awareness but more so his shot IQ. This has improved but still needs work. Portis at times settles for bad shots. Contested 3’s or just quick 3’s in general. Usually experience will fix this, Portis just needs to learn what a good shot is and when it’s better to just pass the ball.

If I had to guess I don’t think Portis will ever become an All-Star but I do think he will become a good offensive player teams can rely on. Portis has at least shown the offensive talent that can keep him around the NBA for another 5-6 seasons. Maybe more with hard work.  The Bulls for now should realize they have an offensive talent in Portis, that could help their bench for a long time moving forward.



Chicago Bulls 2018 Offseason Numbers Breakdown

I currently project the Bulls to have about 25 million in cap space for 2018. I will help you understand how I came up with that and more.

First you must know what contracts the Bulls have guaranteed for next season. Here is a list of those players:


Ignore the red, orange, and purple colors for now. That will be explained shortly. Everything in black there is what the Bulls have guaranteed for next season. That is 10 players the Bulls have under guaranteed contracts, at a total of 57,934,535. Now let’s understand what the red and orange colors mean. Let’s start with orange. The orange is there to indicate “non-guaranteed” contract. In the slot next to it explains when the contract becomes guaranteed. The red represents a cap hold. What is a cap hold? A cap hold is a number a team’s free agent will count against their cap. Every team’s free agent has a cap hold until A) his team resigns him to a new contract B) he signs a new contract with another team C) the team renounces the player. A and B are self explanatory, but C I will explain a little further. Really what you must know are the consequences for renouncing a player. Renouncing the player will eliminate the bird rights the player has gained with his team. I don’t want to get deep into bird rights right now, but just understand bird rights is mainly how teams resign their players over the salary cap. Without bird rights, you can not resign a player over the salary cap unless you are using an exception like the “mid-level” exception.

So for the purposes of my 25 million in cap space projection, I assume the Bulls will renounce Vonleh and waive Zipser by 7/19/18. I also assume the Bulls will keep Lavine’s and Nwaba’s cap hold in place. Adding in Lavine’s and Nwaba’s holds to the Bulls guaranteed salary, the team salary number now becomes 69,240,887.

The next numbers we must account for are the Bulls draft picks. The Bulls currently have two first round picks, their own and one from New Orleans protected 1-5. I project those picks to become the 5th overall and 16th overall. 4,425,600 is the 5th overall pick salary in 2018-19, and 2,157,900 is the 16th overall pick salary as well. Yes those picks can land anywhere 5-10, 16-20 possibly. Possibly higher or lower. But the difference between 5-8 and 16-20 is minor. The projections might not be 100% but are close enough to get a good idea.


Adding in those draft projections to our numbers from earlier brings the Bulls team salary to 75,824,387. Those are all the numbers we need to determine the Bulls cap space for next season. We will now take the current salary cap projection the NBA is working under for the 2018-19 season, which is 101,000,000, and subtract our current Bulls team salary projection from that salary cap projection. 25,175,613 is the answer you should get after doing the math, and that is where my 25 million in space projection comes from. That number can vary depending on many factors. Where the picks land once the lottery has finished, also what the salary cap ends up being for 2018-19. It won’t be exactly 101,000,000, but it’s safe to assume it won’t be to far off from that projection. It’s safe to assume the Bulls will have anywhere from 23-30 million in space.

Now let me explain a little bit more about how I came up with some of these other numbers:


This is more for educational purposes at this point. Where is that first number 113,734,855 coming from? How can the Bulls have that much in team salary?

So that number is all the guaranteed salary, cap holds, non-guaranteed salary, draft pick projections, and all the EXCEPTIONS combined. I’m talking about these exceptions:


If you are under the salary cap, then all your exceptions must count toward your team salary. The Bulls without them are under the cap, so they must be added into the team salary. With my 25 million in cap space projection, I assume the Bulls will renounce them. You can renounce your exceptions to clear more cap space, but you will lose them for that season. It is possible the Bulls don’t renounce them, until cap space is needed there is no need to renounce them.

This is the reason for 113,734,855 number, but it is also the reason for the -12 million in space. Until the Bulls renounce their exceptions along with their holds and non-guaranteed money, this is the space they are working with.


The next number 87,885,037 is just all the guaranteed salary, holds, non-guarnateed salary combined. Basically if the Bulls renounced all their exceptions but kept everything else in place. And the 13,114,963 in cap space represents where they would be if they did just that. We already discussed the 75,824,387 figure, along with the 25 million in space. Lastly let’s just discuss the last numbers there. The 59,597,157 is just the guaranteed salary + the incomplete roster charge. What is an incomplete roster charge(IRC)?

An incomplete roster charge occurs when a team drops below 12 players under contract. The Bulls have 10 players under contract. Assuming the Bulls don’t use their draft picks by either trade or drafting overseas players that will stay overseas, the Bulls will only have 10 players under contract. Because of this the Bulls would be charged the rookie minimum of 831,311 twice, which is 1,662,622. So the Bulls guaranteed salary plus the “IRC” is 59,597,157. The cap space of 41,402,843 is possible if the Bulls renounced all their free agents, waived all non-guaranteed money, and traded or drafted overseas players that would stay there with their picks. The 41 million figure is the max space the Bulls could create without trade. Unlikely situation.

After reading all this you should understand everything in this photo:

2018 Off Season

Not only that, you should be able to figure out yourself the Bulls cap space projections for the 2018 offseason.

Chicago Bulls Game #59 Review

Let’s grade and breakdown how each player did Saturday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kris Dunn (D+)

Dunn struggled offensively in this one. 2nd game since the break and 2nd time Dunn has struggled. Dunn missed all his shots in the paint, 0-5. Was 1-4 from 3 but did make all 3 mid-range shots. Dunn had 4 turnovers as well, just struggled creating opportunities for others with only 2 assists. Dunn also had 5 fouls, had trouble with Jeff Teague last night.

Zach Lavine (B-)

Lavine had two different halves. In the first half you saw Zach not only score the basketball but create for others. Had 15 points and 5 assists. Shot 60% from the field. In the 2nd half had 6 points with only 2 assists. Forced shots more and didn’t shoot efficiently. Zach continues to show his scoring potential but must continue to show he can make his teammates better. He gets in the paint with his quickness, scored 14 of his 21 points in the paint. Must look for his teammates more often, make game easier for Lauri.

David Nwaba (B)

Nwaba had another solid all-around game. Like Lavine, was more effective in the 1st half. But Nwaba played with an energy that was contagious. Nwaba scored 8 of his 15 points on the break. Nwaba led the team in rebounds with 9. Nwaba continues to show his offensive improvement this season, making it harder and harder not to bring him back next season.

Lauri Markkanen (F)

Lauri continues to struggle, and really has looked bad the last two games. Lauri only had 3 points on 1 of 8 shooting, 0 of 2 from 3. Lauri is missing short on a lot of his shots and has overall looked fatigued the past two games. Still arguably not getting enough shots, but clearly struggling right now. This was one of the worst games we have seen all season from Markkanen.

Crisitiano Felicio (C)

Felicio was able to stay out of foul trouble in his 2nd start. Felicio really looked good in the pick n roll with Lavine. Felicio scored 8 of his 11 points in the pick n roll with Felicio. That was encouraging to see. The biggest difference you see in Felicio from Lopez is his athleticism. He can run the floor on both ends, in transition and getting back on defense. His pick n roll defense tonight could have been better though.

Denzel Valentine (C+)

Valentine had an efficient offensive game. Didn’t hurt you, had 4 assists. Shot the ball well 5 of 9. But really struggled defensively guarding his man. Lacked height to guard bigger SFs. Had 2nd worse defensive rating on team tonight with 125.5. Valentine’s weakness showed tonight, hard to find a position for him. Plays solid team offense but what position can he guard effectively?

Bobby Portis (B-)

Hard to follow a big game like Bobby had last game. He scored 15 points on 6 of 13 shooting. Played with confidence offensively and was effective. Just wasn’t much of a factor defensively. Bobby’s confidence offensively is clearly growing and is comfortable in his role off the bench.

Cameron Payne (C)

Payne scored 11 points, 4 in garbage minutes. Payne shows talent but shows low shot IQ and doesn’t see the floor well. A few times misses open man, one bad one with Portis wide open underneath basket last night.  Defensively struggled as well. Needs to have better floor game if he wants to get consistent minutes in the future.

Noah Vonleh (B)

Vonleh looked good tonight. He shot the ball well 3 of 4 from the field, 2 of 3 from 3. Hustled out there and ended up with 6 rebounds. This was an encouraging game for Vonleh and should get him more minutes moving forward. He looked real comfortable out there and played with confidence.

Jerian Grant (INC)

Barely played. Garbage minutes. Took bad shot but irrelevant.

Omer Asik, Justin Holiday, Antonio Blakeney, Ryan Arcidiacono were not active.

Overall: Bulls again played tough but fell apart in 4th. Really struggled finding ways to get easy buckets late. Bulls had trouble with Jeff Teague all night. Crawford shot the ball well for Minnesota, and Taj Gibson had a good game. The Bulls losing isn’t really the issue, but the struggles of Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen are. But encouraging was David Nwaba and Noah Vonleh in this one. The Bulls continue to focus on player development while helping their draft stock.

Valentine Must Find Confidence With 2nd Unit

Denzel Valentine has had an up and down season. It has been two different Valentines this season. Starting Valentine, and then off the bench Valentine. On November 17th Hoiberg announced Valentine as a full-time starter until Zach Lavine returned. Hoiberg had lost confidence in Zipser and allowed Valentine an opportunity to start. Before being named full-time starter; Valentine was averaging 10.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. He shot 38% from the field and 39% from 3. He did this in 12 games, starting 1, while playing 26.4 minutes a game. Valentine would go ahead and start the next 30 games, and you started to see Valentine’s confidence grow. In those 30 games Valentine averaged 9.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. But the biggest improvement was the FG%. Valentine went from 38% to 44% and shot over 40% from 3. And in those last 19 games he started in, Valentine shot even better. Valentine shot 48% from the field during that stretch, while the Bulls went 12-7 during that stretch. That was the best basketball we saw from Denzel Valentine since becoming a pro. It was also the best basketball we have seen from the Bulls all season, and Denzel was a factor in that run. Denzel was shooting with confidence and seemed to find his rhythm with the team. But things changed once Zach Lavine became healthy.


On January 13th Zach Lavine made his return, which demoted Denzel Valentine back to the bench but mainly hurt his confidence. Denzel’s stats since the benching isn’t much different but two things stand out. He is shooting below 40% from the field again, shooting 39% from the field in the past 15 games. But more alarming is he shot 28% from 3, while still shooting 4.7 3’s a game. Valentine’s shot has not only abandoned him, but his shot IQ has gone down as well. He has taken some questionable shots the past 15 games and isn’t shooting them well. Everybody goes through slumps, I don’t want to make a big deal out of the bad stretch. The fact Valentine hasn’t looked the same the minute Lavine started playing to me isn’t just coincidence. But I don’t blame Valentine for losing his confidence and rhythm.




The Bulls must help Valentine find that confidence. Valentine is a good shooter. And is better than 28%. But he doesn’t seem the same on the 2nd unit. Part of the reason is talent around him. Valentine’s lack of athleticism limits him offensively. He is better when baskets are assisted for him. 59% of Valentine’s made field goals this year come from an assist. Compared to Lavine, where 70% of his made field goals are unassisted. Valentine struggles when the ball in his hands more. Where he is put in situations to create. On the first unit the ball isn’t in his hands as much, while on the 2nd unit the offense is ran through him more. And I do think Valentine is a good team player who sees the floor well. But he can’t beat his man off the dribble enough and create passing lanes to use his vision or score effectively. But the 2nd unit is where Valentine belongs. He shouldn’t start over Lavine at shooting guard, and in the big picture probably won’t be able to hold is own against good NBA starting small forwards. Valentine coming off the bench playing good team basketball, while shooting near 40% from 3 can be helpful moving forward though and is something he is more than capable of doing. Valentine is on a cheap rookie contract, if the Bulls can develop him into that solid 7th/8th guy off the bench it will be a big plus moving forward the next two seasons.


The Bulls announced David Nwaba will start over Justin Holiday, which I love. The Bulls are valuing player development the last 25 games. At this point why should Holiday see more playing time than Denzel Valentine as well? The Bulls invested a first-round pick in Valentine. The Bulls only invested 9 million for 2 years in Holiday. If the goal for the next 25 games is player development, then Valentine should see more minutes than Holiday as well. At least show Valentine they are invested in developing him moving forward. The Bulls are trying to find who can work around the core of Markkanen, Dunn, and Lavine. Valentine is a player capable of making 38%-40% of his 3s, he plays good team basketball, he attacks the boards, and has nice pass vision. The Bulls need to start helping Valentine develop into that role player they could use the next 2 seasons. And possibly, more.