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Robin Lopez Discusses Bulls’ Recent Streak

Spencer Davies has a brief chat with Robin Lopez about Chicago’s recent stretch of play.

Spencer Davies

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Coming into Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night, the Chicago Bulls were the hottest team in the NBA.

Meeting the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third time this season, this team was a different one than in the previous encounters. There was a self-belief in this version.

The result remained the same and the seven-game winning streak came to a halt, but it’s clear that these Bulls are giving it their all.

With another hyped up rookie class for the 2018 NBA Draft on its way, many fans and pundits alike are scratching their heads because Chicago is “ruining the tank.” While winning now may not be the best thing for the organization long-term, it’s certainly given them a reason to believe in themselves right now.

“I can’t speak for myself because I don’t pay too much attention to that stuff, but we’re all super competitive in here,” Robin Lopez told Basketball Insiders. “We’re competitive with each other in practice and I think that shows on the court during games.”

Lopez has been the only player to start each and every game for the Bulls to this point and is having a career season. He’s been a part of the good, and he’s been a part of the bad. Because of it, we can’t really put a finger on what this team is. Should we believe they’re the 3-20 group that came before the streak, or should we put some stock into what they were doing as a healthy group during that great stretch?

Before giving an answer, it’s fair to look at the improved play of Kris Dunn, Chicago’s starting point guard who has shown flashes with his first real opportunity to put his talents on display. It’s one of those situations where a rookie gets judged too quickly and is deemed what he is at that moment, rather than thinking about the possibility of improvement with experience and different circumstances.

Lopez agrees with the notion that many guys are often not given enough time to prove themselves, and he’s glad to see Dunn doing well drawing back on his own past experiences.

“It’s great to see,” he told Basketball Insiders. “I’m sure there are so many players. You know, I didn’t have a great rookie season so I’m happy to see him succeeding. I know what that’s like. He’s playing with confidence. He’s playing with intelligence.”

Credit a lot of that to Fred Hoiberg. He’s been somebody who has been criticized but has stuck to his game plan since the season started. Now that he’s gotten players back, he’s been able to tinker around with different rotations.

For example, since Dunn’s return, Jerian Grant has played efficient basketball backing him up. In the past month, the third-year guard has a 60 percent true shooting percentage with a higher usage and is averaging nearly 17 points and eight assists per 36 minutes. He’s paired in the backcourt with David Nwaba, who’s an aggressive defender with athleticism and an ability to score when needed.

The two guys who were at each other’s throats to begin the season—Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis—have formed a duo that has given the competition fits. Together on the floor, they have the second-highest net rating on the team with a plus-14.7.

“They’ve been thriving,” Lopez said of the combination. “It’s a tough matchup for people and they’ve been exploiting that. They’re playing smart.

“I think we have a lot of talent in a lot of different positions,” Lopez continued. “We’re a pretty deep team right now. We’re winning games as a team, but our bench unit’s been putting in a lot of work for us.”

While the team’s had its ups and downs, Lopez has stayed consistent in his role throughout. According to Cleaning The Glass, the Bulls are 13 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the floor. It’s a figure that puts him in the 91st percentile.

As mentioned earlier, the 29-year-old veteran center is having a solid season individually. He’s been more aggressive and is also passing the ball more frequently, boasting an 11.1 percent assist percentage.

These numbers will likely make Lopez an attractive trade target for any team in need of a dependable big man, especially with the youth movement Chicago is emphasizing.

But for now and until told otherwise, he’s a part of a group that’s growing together and continues to build off every night. As for how far they can go, your guess is as good as good as his.

“That’s a good question,” Lopez told Basketball Insiders. “I don’t really want to put any kind of limit on that. Right now, we’re playing very well. We’re playing hard. We’re playing together, so we’ll see where that takes us one game at a time.”

Spencer Davies is a Deputy Editor and a Senior NBA Writer based in Cleveland in his third year with Basketball Insiders. Covering the league and the Cavaliers for the past five seasons, his bylines have appeared on Bleacher Report, FOX Sports and HoopsHype.

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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Headlines

#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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