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Tag: Robin Lopez

Ashish Mathur: “Jimmy (Butler) Establishing Himself as (Bulls’) New Alpha”

Jimmy Butler has firmly established himself as an MVP candidate and the leader of the Chicago Bulls. (Jsteperry/Wikimedia Commons)

Jimmy Butler has firmly established himself as an MVP candidate and the leader of the Chicago Bulls. (Jsteperry/Wikimedia Commons)

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Following dramatic offseason changes, the Chicago Bulls have jumped out to a 10-6 start. At 34, future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade has returned to his hometown. Chicago also brought in former NBA champion Rajon Rondo, among others. Our guest, Ashish Mathur of the Outside Pitch Sports Network, details how Wade and Rondo have added a sense of accountability, what’s behind Jimmy Butler’s routine offensive outbursts and how the Bulls’ lack of depth could ultimately derail their high hopes. Plus, much more is discussed with Mathur, who is cautiously optimistic about 2016-17 given how early it is in the season and the team’s new-look quality. At times, he’s even bullish, but let’s get to the excerpts before any more questionable puns are employed:

1:48-3:04: Mathur begins by pointing out the necessity for the Bulls to trot out a completely different team this season and detailing what key additions Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have brought: “The roster turnover was needed in every facet. Derrick [Rose] and Joakim [Noah] did a lot for this organization and city, but with Jimmy [Butler] establishing himself as the new alpha on the team, it was time for those two to go. Gar Forman and John Paxson did a pretty good job. Getting Rondo and Wade here was huge, just for the locker room. It was toxic and full of turmoil last year…not able to handle any adversity…it was time for a change. The biggest thing Wade and Rondo add to the team is accountability…First day of training camp, Rondo and Wade were stopping practices telling guys to knock it off and to stop the chit-chat, [because they’re] here to practice.”

3:57-4:58Next, Mathur gushes about Butler’s transformation from defensive specialist to bona fide all-around superstar: “This guy came into the league as a defensive stopper, averaged 2 points per game his first year. He’s got to be one of the hardest working players, especially in the offseason…He got up at 4 in the morning every day and trained. He’s having fun this year. Last year, there was so much dysfunction…Last year was the first [time] Jimmy dealt with adversity in the NBA…He looks so much different. He’s smiling, loves having Wade on the team, and is putting up MVP-type numbers.”

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Seth Rosenthal: Despite Knicks’ Struggles, Porzingis Has “Made Everything Worthwhile”

No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis has adeptly handled his rookie season thus far (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis has adeptly handled his rookie season thus far (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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Following a brutal season the New York Knicks would much rather you forgot, the team jumped out to a solid 22-22 start this campaign. Unfortunately, the team subsequently experienced a bitter downturn in which it fired its second-year head coach Derek Fisher. And the struggles continue. On both sides of the ball, however, No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis has shown early signs of brilliance at a mere 20 years old. Plus, there are other promising developments, such as the continued improvement of Lance Thomas. To discuss these complex Knicks, Seth Rosenthal, SB Nation editor as well as the editor for SBN’s Knicks site Posting and Toasting, stopped by. Seth didn’t sugarcoat things, providing the good, the bad and the ugly. The highlights can be found below:

1:48 – 1:53 on the Knicks’ season:

“The worst thing that happened to them is that they started the year that strong, ’cause now they look so terrible in comparison.”

3:47 – 4:24 on Kristaps Porzingis:

“A lot of people assumed he would be a big, weak shooting big man kind of stiff, not a great defender…he’s been a very versatile scorer. If anything, his outside catch-and-shoot game is the weakest part of his scoring repertoire. He’s been a really solid defender…if he continues to grow…if he stays healthy, he’s going to have an extremely well-rounded game.”

6:23 – 7:14 on the precipitous decline of the Knicks after a promising start:

“On the court, it was palpable that the team wasn’t quite responding to (Fisher) the way they were before…The offense you have to play as a team, running the triangle, depends more so than other teams’ schemes do on brute effort. If the Knicks aren’t cutting…dribbling over screens, using their screens, and attacking the glass, that hampers them more than teams that are more open in their structure and more athletically gifted…Guys were starting to flag a little bit…Increasingly, within the team, (this) became attributed to Fisher.” Continue reading

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