Scouting report: What the Bulls are getting in newly acquired Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn

Scouting report: What the Bulls are getting in newly acquired Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn

The Bulls have entered their rebuilding phase, dealing Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick, which became Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen. Time will tell what Markkanen becomes as a stretch forward/center but he certainly was worthy of the selection. LaVine and Dunn had been with the Timberwolves since they were drafted, and give the Bulls two versatile options in a backcourt that will look far different than it did a year ago.

Here’s what the Bulls are getting in the two former Timberwolves guards:

LaVine, a two-time NBA Dunk Contest champion, was having a career year before he suffered a torn ACL on Feb. 3. Playing a bigger role in his second season under Thibodeau, LaVine averaged 18.9 points on 46 percent shooting and shot a respectable 39 percent from deep on 6.6 attempts per game, 16th most in the NBA.

LaVine is known for him thunderous dunks, but that athleticism allowed him to shoot nearly 64 percent at the rim last year, per basketball-reference. He’s a scorer first and foremost, topping 25 or more point 10 different times in those 47 games. He went for 40 points in a late December loss to the Kings. He also had five or more assists on eight different occasions, so he’s able to distribute the ball as well. He’s a true combo guard who should finally give Fred Hoiberg some backcourt flexibility.

The Bulls got a firsthand look at LaVine’s skill set in December when he went for 24 points, six rebounds and six assists in a win over the Bulls at the United Center. He shot 10-for-18 and made a few key shots over Dwyane Wade late to seal the game. It was part of a stellar 16-game stretch between November 23 and December 23 when LaVine averaged 23.6 points and 3.5 assists.

He flirted with 50/40/90, shooting 49 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 88 percent from the line. He did all this, of course, playing behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. While that gave LaVine more one-on-one situations as defenses dealt with his two budding star teammates, shots were hard to come by until LaVine asserted himself and worked him into a featured role in the offense.

LaVine had ACL surgery on February 14 and spoke about his recovery in late May, saying “everything is going well.” LaVine said at that time he was only allowed to run on an anti-gravity treadmill, and there’s still no timetable for his return to the court. A source told Insider Vincent Goodwill LaVine is “training softly.”

Dunn has plenty of work to do to show he can compete at the next level. Though he only played one season, his rookie campaign under Thibodeau was one to forget. The No. 5 pick in the draft averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 assists in 17.1 minutes per game. He played in 78 games behind Ricky Rubio, although he did lose some playing time to Tyus Jones late in the season.

Dunn’s shooting is his biggest weakness. In terms of true shooting percentage, which takes into account 3-point shots and free throws, Dunn was second-to-last in the NBA last year with a 43.2 percent mark. He shot just 38 percent from the floor, 29 percent from beyond the arc and 61 percent at the free-throw line.

For his season-long struggles he did look good in the second half of the year. After the All-Star break he improved his percentages to 40.4/33.3/77.8 and had a handful of impressive games. He had 11 points and seven assists against the Lakers and followed it the next night with a career-best 17 points against the Blazers. In the season finale he handed out 16 assists to go with 10 points, the first double-double of his career.

Where it’s clear he excels is taking care of the ball. His 1.1 turnovers were seventh fewest among point guard who averaged at least Dunn’s 17 minutes per game. He’s ready to facilitate, but he’ll need to score at a higher and more efficient clip to earn playing time.

Where both fit into the Bulls is a question for now. The Bulls have a decision to make with Rajon Rondo and whether to pick up his team option for next season. The Bulls traded for both Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne in the last calendar year, and Isaiah Canaan is under contract for another year. On the wing, LaVine will replace Butler and get as much run as he can handle. With only Denzel Valentine and Anthony Morrow available at shooting guard, LaVine is in line for a big role from Day 1. He’s also in the last year of his rookie contract so the Bulls will be looking to extend him sooner than later.

Jordan Clarkson could solve multiple dilemmas for the Bulls this offseason

Jordan Clarkson could solve multiple dilemmas for the Bulls this offseason

The Bulls have a point guard problem. No, in sheer number they're doing just fine. With Rajon Rondo expected to return after the Bulls pick up his team option, they'll have him, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne under contract. Isaiah Canaan may or may not be back as a cheap fourth option. The retooling process over the last 12 months - swapping out Derrick Rose, Aaron Brooks and E'Twaun Moore for the aforementioned point guards plus Michael Carter-Williams - at the position has been turbulent.

In addition to dealing Rose, the Bulls have surrendered two former first-round picks in Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, and a player in Taj Gibson who could have yielded a future first-round pick a year ago.

June's NBA Draft will be a point guard-heavy class, though the cream of the crop will come off the board before the Bulls pick at No. 16 (in CSN's most recent mock draft five point guards went in the lottery). Despite it being the Bulls' deepest position in numbers, point guard remains their biggest need. Rondo will surpass 28,000 career minutes next season, while the 24-year-old Grant and 22-year-old Payne have showed little in their respective two-year NBA careers to consider either foundations at the position. Assuming Dwyane Wade picks up his $23.8 million player option, the Bulls won't be real contenders for top free agents like George Hill, Jeff Teague or Jrue Holiday.

But there's another option the Bulls could pursue this month.

The Lakers are widely expected to select UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball (assuming Markelle Fultz goes No. 1) second overall to pair up with D'Angelo Russell, their 2015 first-round pick. While keeping Clarkson would give Luke Walton depth on the second unit, finding future value for the 24-year-old combo guard may trump any short-term gains he'd provide as depth. And if the Lakers really are actively shopping Clarkson, the Bulls should consider dangling the No. 16 pick for him.

There's recent precedent in an NBA veteran-for-mid-first round pick. Last year before the draft the Nets traded 27-year-old Thaddeus Young for the No. 20 pick, and the Kings dealt Marco Belinelli to the Hornets for the No. 22 pick. Belinelli, 30, had two years and $13 million left on his deal, while Young had three years and $43 remaining, with the final year acting as a $13.7 million player option. Clarkson's a more appealing option than either of those two, and has more potential than win-now appeal, yet the No. 16 pick is more valuable, too.

Clarkson has outplayed his expectations since the Lakers took him 46th in the 2014 NBA Draft. Among those in that draft class, he ranks second in points, fourth in assists and steals and third in total minutes. The Lakers gave him a four-year, $50 million deal last offseason to avoid restricted free agency, and he responded with another solid campaign. He averaged 14.7 points on 44.5 percent shooting, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 82 games (19 starts). He's played ample time at both guard spots - he took over second-unit point guard duties last year after starting at shooting guard in 2015 - and his 6-foot-8 wingspan makes him a versatile defender (though his on/off splits have been lackluster on the defensive end).

He's not the 3-point shooter the Bulls covet in Fred Hoiberg's system - Clarkson's made just 33.4 percent of his triples in three years - but his 4.3 attempts per game would have trailed only Nikola Mirotic last season. Clarkson shot 63 percent at the rim last season, per basketball-reference, and is athletic enough to create for himself. Learning under Rondo for a year would do wonders for his playmaking, as the shot-first guard has averaged just 3.4 assists per 36 minutes in his career.

It's unlikely Clarkson turns into a star, though he's still just 24 (he turns 25 next week) and has shown improvement while adapting to multiple roles in his short NBA stint. It's safe to assume his numbers would improve in an increased role. Given that he's owed just $37.5 million the next three seasons, he'd give the Bulls a relatively cheap option at the position. The Bulls, of course, could be waiting until the 2018 offseason to have maximum salary cap space, as Rondo's $14 million will come off the books in 13 months.

Selecting anyone with that No. 16 pick would of course be a cheaper option than Clarkson, but also a bigger mystery. Of the Bulls' previous five first-round picks, two have been traded away (Snell, McDermott), one is no longer in the NBA (Marquis Teague) and the most recent two (Portis, Valentine) struggled to find consistent minutes on a 41-win team. Dealing for Clarkson would limit the ceiling a potential pick could bring, but also raise the floor on a potential bust.

Clarkson isn't the answer to the Bulls' struggles. But he is a rare player that a) the Bulls can afford, b) improves the current roster and c) increases the team's future outlook. There's a chance the Bulls are enamored with a handful of prospects at No. 16, which could include Louisville's Donovan Mitchell (a player similar to Clarkson), Texas' Jarrett Allen or shooting guard Terrance Ferguson. Swinging for the fences is certainly an option for a Bulls team needing an influx of (younger and more athletic) talent. But Clarkson would improve the Bulls and, perhaps most importantly, give some clarity to the point guard dilemma they're currently facing.

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

The deadline for underclassmen to pull their names out of the NBA Draft passed on Wednesday at midnight.

There were a few surprises, and a handful of decisions had an effect on how the Bulls will go about next month's draft.

Staying in the draft

Caleb Swangian, PF, Purdue: The sophomore All-American surprised many by keeping his name in the draft. Swanigan actually tested the waters after his freshman season but returned to the Boilermakers in 2016. He averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 games, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors and was a National Player of the Year candidate. It's no secret the 6-foot-9 Swangian can score  - he had 15 games of 20 or more points - and showed some ability to shoot from deep, making nearly 45 percent of his 85 3-point attempts. Quickness and conditioning will be the real test for the 245-pound Swanigan, who has already lost significant weight since high school. Questions about his defense (he had just 27 steals and 36 blocks in two seasons) also stand out. With Nikola Mirotic's future in Chicago unknown, the Bulls could be in the market for depth at power forward. He wouldn't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14, but if he slides out of the first round he could be an option at No. 38.

D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan: After averaging just 6.1 minutes as a sophomore, Wilson burst onto the scene as a junior, averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes for the Wolverines. He did his best work during the postseason; during Michigan's Big Ten Championship run and Sweet 16 appearance, Wilson averaged 15.6 points on 54 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Standing 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Wilson leaves some to be desired on the defensive end but has the ability to play as a combo forward - he had a 3-inch growth spurt after high school. Like Swanigan, Wilson won't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14 but could be a second-round option. He'd give the Bulls a similar look to what Bobby Portis does with a little more versatility on the wing.

Going back to college

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: The NBA Draft's biggest mystery could have been a home-run selection for the Bulls in the first round. Alas, Diallo has decided to play a year under John Calipari at Kentucky and likely boost his draft stock. Having not played since December, where he played at a prep academy in Connecticut, so there wasn't much film of the 6-foot-5 leaper. Still, after Thon Maker went No. 10 to the Bucks last year there was thought that a team would take a gamble on a high-upside mystery.

Andrew Jones, PG, Texas: There was little surprise that Jones, a five-star recruit who put together a solid freshman season, returned. He's still a bit raw as a prospect despite having elite size (6-foot-4) and solid athleticism, and another year running the point with incoming five-star recruit Mo Bomba could really improve his draft stock. The Bulls clearly have a need at the point (less if Rajon Rondo returns) and if Jones had made the leap he likely would have been around at No. 38. Even still, Jones is a player to keep an eye on during next year's draft, assuming Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant don't make significant improvements.

Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan: There's a need on every NBA team for a stretch forward with 3-point potential. But those teams will have to wait at least another year after Wagner decided to return to Michigan for his junior season. Like Wilson, who kept his name in the draft, Wagner had an excellent postseason run for the Wolverines. That stretch included a 17-point effort against Minnesota and a career-high 26-point outing in a win over Louisville. He weighed in at just 231 pounds and only averaged 4.2 rebounds per game, so adding some strength to his game will help his draft prospect for next year. He could have been an option for the Bulls at No. 38.