The Chicago Bulls are setting a good example for Dyson Daniels of the G-League Ignite and it is not because Ayo Dosunmu was named to the All-Rookie Second Team. Them being a positive influence on the game in any capacity was hard to imagine just a few years ago.
They have righted the ship under the direction of Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.
DeMar DeRozan has spoken of how great his first season in Chicago has been, including telling former San Antonio Spurs teammate Rudy Gay on the “Speakeasy” podcast about the experience.
Now, Marc Berman of the New York Post has detailed comments from Daniels that further relate the kind of return on the culture Karnisovas has built with the help of general manager Marc Eversley.
Love from the Lottery
Daniels is a 6-foot-7 guard prospect from Australia where his father, Ricky Daniels, played after leaving N.C. State. The younger Daniels spurned offers from Colorado, Houston, and his father’s alma mater to go pro.
Projected to go anywhere from inside the top-10 to 14th overall in the NBA.com consensus mock draft, Daniels said his game is a blend of several NBA players including Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso.
“It’s a tough one for me because I have such a unique game. I have a very good offensive game but I’m a good defender….I feel on the defensive end I’m like Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, people like that.”
Ball and Caruso’s defensive presence has been a story since Christmas when Caruso went down with a wrist injury that required surgery. In January, Ball went down with a knee injury that has lingered into the offseason.
The Bulls got just 76 appearances from the two of them combined. When healthy, though, the duo changed the dynamics of the undersized Bulls.
The Bulls were plus-9.8 with the pair on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass, and minus-3.2 with them off. Naturally, their biggest impact was on the defensive end. Chicago’s defensive rating was 14.3 points worse without their stoppers.
From the Mouths of Babes
This is a reminder of how far the Bulls have come. They were a punchline for the ESPN crew in February of 2020. At the time, Tracy McGrady and Bulls legend Scottie Pippen questioned whether or not most of the players on the roster would be starters.
Interestingly enough, building a winner around LaVine was a sub-topic of the discussion then as well.
With the uncertainty surrounding his future in Chicago, things like this are proof that they are trying to do just that. The early results have to be encouraging with LaVine reaching the postseason for the first time despite all of the injuries the Bulls dealt with.
Aside from Ball and Caruso, forward Patrick Williams missed all but 17 games. LaVine will also undergo arthroscopic surgery to clean up what he has said feels like “loose cartilage”, per NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson.
The Bulls do not figure to have a shot at Daniels with the 18th overall pick. But he would be a convenient alternative to Matisse Thybulle of the Philadelphia 76ers whom they are rumored to have shown interest in, per Heavy’s Sean Deveney.
It would also allow them to delay a decision on Coby White who was mentioned in that scenario with Thybulle.
He was also tied with Matt Thomas for fourth on the team shooting 38.5% from downtown for a Bulls team that ranked dead-last in three-point attempts in the regular season.
The NBA Draft and the Rumor Mill
We are just over a month away from the NBA Draft and the rumor mill is kicking into high gear. The trick is always deciphering what is real and what is just a smokescreen. Rumors about Thybulle or proposed sign-and-trades with LaVine are mostly the latter.
Daniels’ comments are very real.
They might not go a long way towards swaying LaVine. But it should instill confidence in Karnisovas to make the right moves for the franchise long-term.