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Around the NBA:Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat (10/31)
by: Joseph Treutlein - Director of Scouting/Analytics
November 1, 2006
Box Score

The game itself was surprisingly uncompetitive, as the Bulls shockingly won the game by 42 points. Regardless, two young rookies were seeing some consistent burn prior to garbage time, and both looked like theyíll be doing so for awhile longer.

The way the rotations are shaping up so far, Miami and Chicago each look to have a rookie seeing regular minutes early in the season, and those rookies couldnít be any more different. On one hand, you have Tyrus Thomas, the #4 pick in the draft and one of the most athletically gifted players the NBA has seen in the past few years. On the other, you have Miamiís current backup point guard Chris Quinn, a solid but unspectacular undrafted rookie whoís only in the rotation due to Jason Williams being injured.

Miami Heat

Quinnís game tonight was pretty non-descript, but you have to take into consideration the context of the situation. He was thrusted into the game before the first quarter even ended. This is an undrafted rookie playing significant minutes at point guard on opening night for the NBA champions. How often do you see a situation like that?

Unsurprisingly, the Bulls threw Chris Duhon at him with a full-court press as soon as he took the floor, but Quinn handled it very well, dribbling through it calmly and confidently without ever getting in trouble or calling for help from his teammates. Once Quinn got into the halfcourt sets, though, he didnít quite look like himself. Used to seeing a point guard with a penchant for instinctively running his offense, I saw one with a hint of indecisiveness that wasnít able to really get involved in the game. I wouldnít say Quinn looked rattled, or even that he was ineffective, but in situations where Iím used to seeing him make a confident pass to the open man, I noticed him hesitating before making the pass. Maybe this was more patience than indecisiveness, but regardless, Quinn looked like he was having trouble getting himself involved early in the game.

As the game wore on, and once garbage time began about 5 minutes into the third quarter, Quinn seemed more at ease, and started distributing and running the offense more akin to what long-time observers of him would recognize. Considering the circumstances of the situation, Quinn didnít have a bad opening game by any means. He did nothing to hinder the games of those on his team, and thereís no doubt he should be deferring to the likes of Dwayne Wade, Antoine Walker, and Shaquille OíNeal when heís on the floor with them. He did an adequate job backing up Gary Payton at point guard, and should be able to do even better once he eases into the situation. Eventually, he should be able to contribute some consistent outside shooting while being a poised floor general that will keep the offense running and get everyone involved. Tonight, all he really did was not make any mistakes.

Chicago Bulls

On the other side of the court, the real story was Tyrus Thomas, as he fearlessly jumped right into the NBA, leaving his mark on this game in more ways than one. The final statline may not be too impressive, and he definitely wasnít one of the most important contributors for Chicago in the game, but the things Tyrus Thomas did contribute were very encouraging for a player many considered to be more of a project than anything else at this point.

Thomas saw his first action in the first quarter, where in his first few plays, he was called for a charge on a strong cut he made from the wing. Scott Skiles immediately pulled him from the game, but it wouldnít be the last we see of him. Thomas was inserted back into the game into the second quarter, and unphased from his early mistake, he quickly and fearlessly put an emphatic weakside block on a Shaquille OíNeal hook shot in the lane. A few plays later, Dwayne Wade drove down the lane and saw Thomas at the end of his path. Originally looking as if Wade was going to take it to the basket, he changed his mind and threw a high and inaccurate alley-oop pass over Thomas that wasnít caught, resulting in a turnover. Later in the game, Shaq caught the ball in the lane about 6-8 feet from the basket. Seeing Thomas in between himself and the basket, Shaq noticeably altered the trajectory of his shot, overshooting the basket and hitting the back of the rim.

Thomas spent most of his time on the floor playing alongside Ben Wallace in the frontcourt, and judging from the descriptions listed above, one can imagine how opposition guards are going to react to these two athletic shot-blockers patrolling the lane. Thomasí most NBA-ready skill entering the draft was undoubtedly his ability to disrupt on the defensive end, and heís already showing how he can do just that. Along with the accounts listed above, Thomas also had a man-to-man shot block on Udonis Haslem and a very impressive steal he made by anticipating an entry pass to his man. Thomas was also strong with his activity on the boards, pulling down five rebounds in 16 minutes while getting his hands on a few others. On one extremely impressive play, Thomas boxed out Antoine Walker on the offensive end, and then proceeded to jump over Shaq for a powerful putback that very few players in this league have the athletic ability to do.

Many wondered whether Thomas would evolve more into a SF or a PF in the NBA, and thatís not a question weíre immediately going to get the answer to. Quite frankly, the answer to that question doesnít matter at this point. The current situation in Chicago is one that is very beneficial to Thomas, as there are multiple players capable of playing either forward position, allowing him to easily fit in alongside them. Thomas saw most of his time tonight playing alongside Victor Khryapa and Andres Nocioni, both combo-forwards, and there didnít seem to be any sort of distinction between which was the SF and which was the PF. Thomas was assigned to James Posey, Antoine Walker, and Udonis Haslem for stretches on the defensive end, and he wasnít exploited by any of them. Offensively, he played a bit on the inside and a bit on the outside, crashing the boards, making cuts, and shooting outside jumpers (he missed two spot-up Jís from mid-range). He had one nice back-to-the-basket possession on the baseline where he spun off his man and faked him into the air to draw the foul, but his play tonight was limited on the low block.

Thomas' toughness was another thing that was on full display tonight, as he was relentless in his efforts around the glass, and he took a few falls to the ground because of it. On one attempt where he went for an offensive rebound, he took a hard elbow to the nose by Miami's James Posey, and it was later revealed that Thomas actually suffered a broken nose on the play. How's that for a "Welcome to the NBA" moment? Luckily, Tyrus will likely only have to wear a mask for awhile, and shouldn't miss more than a few games.

For his rookie debut, this was an impressive game for Tyrus Thomas. Itís clear heís already found himself a niche on Chicago, and he definitely has something notable to contribute to the team already. His transition to the NBA should go well, as he has good complements to himself playing at the other forward spot alongside him. Thomas has played more on the perimeter in the preseason than he was accustomed to doing at LSU, and itís something to look for him to continue doing as the season goes on. As he becomes more and more comfortable, he will become more consistent, and that will lead to him adding another dimension to his already effective game.

The Bullsí other lottery pick, Swiss PG/SG/SF Thabo Sefolosha, didnít see any burn until garbage time. Thabo didnít have as significant an impact on the game as Thomas, but his play was encouraging regardless. The commentators in the game stated that Scott Skiles compares Sefolosha to Doug Christie, another versatile backcourt player who can play many positions, and thatís certainly a direction Sefoloshaís game can head in. At this stage, though, Sefolosha has so much potential that his game can head in a lot of different directions.

Sefolosha first entered the game playing off the ball, and later was left to run the offense by himself as the point guard. Sefolosha looked much better playing off the ball, definitely not seeming to yet have the mentality to run the teamís offense himself. Sefolosha wasnít able to generate any assists when he was running the offense from the top of the key, and plays generally seemed stagnant in development when he was initiating.

When he was playing off the ball, though, things looked a lot different for the young rookie. Thabo didnít take long to show his prowess on the offensive boards, getting a putback soon after he was first put in the game. He later was able to get a few tips on a loose board on another possession. Sefolosha also hit a spot-up two-pointer off a curl, though the trajectory of the shot looked pretty low. The very next possession, he pulled up for a two-pointer off the dribble, and the trajectory was a perfect arc. An inconsistent outside shot was a criticism many had of Sefolosha coming into the league, and itís obviously still a concern. He hit both of his shots in this game, but shot only 34% from the field in preseason, and itís obvious he has some inconsistent shooting mechanics. Regardless, he did maintain a decent level of effectiveness overseas, and I wouldnít say heís someone you want to leave wide open here in the pros either.

Defensively Thabo looked impressive in my opinion, mainly because I noticed a very key adjustment heís already made to his game in his transition to the NBA. In my observations of Thabo playing overseas last season, I noticed a lot of hand usage on the perimeter, something that isnít illegal overseas, and I had questions about how his defensive prowess would translate to the league. To my great surprise, in his rookie debut, Sefolosha was playing blanket defense for pretty much every second he was on the floor while never once committing a hand check. Before we get ahead of ourselves, his defensive assignments were Chris Quinn and Robert Hite, but itís still a very encouraging early adjustment to see from the young rookie. On one very impressive play, Sefolosha was actually giving Robert Hite a two-three foot cushion about 30 feet away from the basket, but he effortlessly reached in with his long arms and good hands to make a clean pick on the ball and drive it the other way for a transition and-1 dunk.

Early results on the Bulls draft are looking promising, and thereís a very good chance both of their rookies are playing a role for the team by the time the season ends.
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to joe@draftexpress.com .

 

Tyrus Thomas
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 217 lbs.
Birthday: 08/17/1986
28 Years Old
Teams:
High School: McKinley
Previous Team: LSU , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #4 in 2006 Draft
by the Trailblazers
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
6.8 Pts, 4.3 Rebs, 0.7 Asts


Chris Quinn
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 175 lbs.
Birthday: 09/27/1983
31 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Dublin Coffman
Previous Team: Valencia , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
1.5 Pts, 0.0 Rebs, 0.5 Asts


Jason Williams
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 190 lbs.
Birthday: 11/18/1975
39 Years Old
Teams:
High School: DuPont
Previous Team: Marshall , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #7 in 1998 Draft
by the Kings
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
2.1 Pts, 1.4 Rebs, 1.5 Asts


Chris Duhon
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 193 lbs.
Birthday: 08/31/1982
32 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Salem
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #9 in 2004 Draft
by the Bulls
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
1.8 Pts, 0.8 Rebs, 1.2 Asts


Antoine Walker
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 234 lbs.
Birthday: 08/12/1976
38 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Mount Carmel
Previous Team: Kentucky , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #6 in 1996 Draft
by the Celtics
Positions:
Current: SF/PF,
NBA: SF/PF,
Possible: SF/PF
Quick Stats:
9.5 Pts, 4.9 Rebs, 2.3 Asts


Gary Payton
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Birthday: 07/23/1968
46 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Skyline
Previous Team: Oregon State , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #2 in 1990 Draft
by the Supersonics
Positions:
Current: PG,
NBA: PG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
5.3 Pts, 1.9 Rebs, 3.0 Asts


Scott Skiles
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Birthday: 03/05/1964
50 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Plymouth
Previous Team: Michigan State , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #22 in 1986 Draft
by the Bucks
Positions:
Current: G,
NBA: G,
Possible: G
Quick Stats:
6.3 Pts, 1.6 Rebs, 3.8 Asts


Ben Wallace
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 9"
Weight: 240 lbs.
Birthday: 09/10/1974
40 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Haynesville Central
Previous Team: Virginia Union , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: C,
NBA: C,
Possible: C
Quick Stats:
1.4 Pts, 4.3 Rebs, 0.7 Asts


Udonis Haslem
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 250 lbs.
Birthday: 06/09/1980
34 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Miami Senior
Previous Team: Heat , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: PF,
NBA: PF,
Possible: PF
Quick Stats:
3.8 Pts, 3.9 Rebs, 0.4 Asts


Andres Nocioni
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 7"
Weight: 225 lbs.
Birthday: 11/30/1979
35 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Real Madrid , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: SF/PF,
NBA: SF/PF,
Possible: SF/PF
Quick Stats:
9.6 Pts, 3.9 Rebs, 0.7 Asts


James Posey
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 8"
Weight: 208 lbs.
Birthday: 01/13/1977
37 Years Old
Teams:
High School: R.B. Chamberlain
Previous Team: Xavier , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #18 in 1999 Draft
by the Nuggets
Positions:
Current: SF,
NBA: SF,
Possible: SF
Quick Stats:
4.9 Pts, 3.0 Rebs, 0.7 Asts


Thabo Sefolosha
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 7"
Weight: 205 lbs.
Birthday: 05/02/1984
30 Years Old
Teams:
High School:
Previous Team: Hawks , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #13 in 2006 Draft
by the 76ers
Positions:
Current: SG/SF,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG/SF
Quick Stats:
4.4 Pts, 4.4 Rebs, 1.5 Asts


Doug Christie
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 6"
Weight: 200 lbs.
Birthday: 05/09/1970
44 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Rainier Beach
Previous Team: , PRO
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #17 in 1992 Draft
by the Supersonics
Positions:
Current: SG,
NBA: SG,
Possible: SG
Quick Stats:
1.9 Pts, 1.6 Rebs, 1.1 Asts


Robert Hite
Full Profile | Player Stats
Physicals
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 190 lbs.
Birthday: 01/02/1984
30 Years Old
Teams:
High School: Winton Woods
Previous Team: Miami FL , PRO
Drafted: Undrafted in Draft
Positions:
Current: SG/SF,
NBA: SG,
Possible: PG
Quick Stats:
7.2 Pts, 3.2 Rebs, 1.3 Asts


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