Lucas understands rags-to-riches "Linsanity" phenomenon

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Lucas understands rags-to-riches "Linsanity" phenomenon

If any player on the Bulls can fully grasp the Linsanity phenomenon, its John Lucas III. In the absence of both the still-sidelined Derrick Rose and backup point guard C.J. Watson earlier this season, Lucas showcased his ability to the tune of 25 points (on 28 shots) in a win over visiting Washington.

Thus, he understands that when given the opportunity, even a deep reserve on an NBA team has the ability to light it up if permitted to play enough minutes.

That said, Lucas, already a journeyman of sorts in his young professional career, while not jealous of Lin who has led the Knicks to a 7-0 record since he started receiving major minutes; hes 6-0 as a starter knows that time and situation plays a part in the success of players.

As a player, kind of in our shoes, who plays a little bit, maybe goes back to the end of the bench or not play at all, one team this year, another team next year, youre out of the league when you see players stay with it and not give up on what they want to do and want they want to accomplish, you root for them, Lucas explained to CSNChicago.com. I like his game and Ive been watching him, and its great that he went in there and stepped up. Hes accepting the challenge and so, youve got to root a person on whos an underdog.

Lucas, whose father played and coached in the league, recognized Lins talent when the current Knicks star was playing in college.

I watched him when he was at Harvard. My dad is really good friends with Tommy Amaker, whos the head coach at Harvard, and when they came to play Rice University in Houston, Lucas hometown, I was able to go to the game," he recounted. "I watched him play then and I watch him play now. Hes got game. If he didnt have game, he wouldnt be in this league, so it just shows you cant take anybody lightly because theyve never played and hes making the best of his opportunity.

"I just take my hat off to him. I thought he had a shot. I wouldnt say a legit lottery pick or anything like that, but I thought he had a legitimate shot to play in this league when I saw him play because I saw he was poised and he plays the game fun having fun out there, thats what its all about and it shows.

Lucas believes that by playing in New Yorks guard-friendly system, Lin the winner of the Eastern Conference player of the week award last week is better equipped to thrive, even after the return of All-Star Carmelo Anthony, known as an isolation scorer.

The system fits. Mike DAntonis system is a running system and he brings the Phoenix offense, so you really, as a PG, dont have to worry about getting into plays just get it and go, a lot of pick-and-roll and when youre able to create, get into the paint, finish, dime it, that system fits just about anybody," Lucas observed. "Its almost like youre playing in a summer-league game, but it fits him and I think he fits that system, he fits that coach and that team. Hes just showing what he brings to the table.

I dont think its a big adjustment. At the end of the day, as a ballplayer, you know your position, you know your role on the team. Obviously, hes not going to shoot the ball as much as hes been doing. Because of the injuries to them, hes had to step up to the plate and take some of the slack. I think, as a basketball player, youll find your way when everybody gets back, everybody gets healthy because its not just going to make you better. Its going to make the whole team better.

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Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

If there's a more maddening player in the Eastern Conference than Nikola Mirotic, that player's psychologist should be getting paid double considering Bulls fans have been talking to themselves about Mirotic so much over the past three years.

And as they've reached no conclusion on Mirotic, along with many other sage minds, only one thing is for certain: March is his month.

Meaning it's the month where it becomes maddening to watch him play and probably equally as maddening for his teammates who've watched his inconsistencies for the better part of four months or so.

Averaging 16.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 41 career March games, it's the only full month where Mirotic averages in double figures for his career—meaning there's a lot of inconsistencies to wade through to get to the proverbial pot of gold.

In 2014-15, he emerged as the NBA's best fourth-quarter scorer that month when the Bulls were without both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Last season, he came back fresh after an appendectomy took a big chunk of his year.

This year, there's no big macro reason. He's just playing definitively, making quick movements and it's paying off as his two best scoring games took place within a four-day span (28 against both Detroit and Milwaukee).

"Right now, you see I'm shooting without hesitation," Mirotic said to CSNChicago.com. "Just catch and shooting. It's a great feeling."

No word on whether Mirotic hears the fans in the arena or the twitterverse screaming for him to ditch the pump fake that he actually admits it got in his head, but this season has been a roller coaster of the most dramatic kind, as the Bulls are still vying for playoff positioning with eight games remaining in the regular season.

"Sometimes, especially when I'm reading you guys (media), Niko pump fake, pump fake," Mirotic said with a smile. "Okay, no more pump fakes, just fire that ball. I'm laughing because you guys are (right)…that's true. You guys want me to shoot. It doesn't look good when you pump fake every time you have a wide-open shot."

Being penciled in as a training camp starter due to the need for floor spacing, Taj Gibson quickly outplayed Mirotic for the power forward spot. Then Mirotic's up and down, down and up, season began.

Kind of like his pump fake that often drew more defensive attention for it's predictability than effectiveness, stability has been hard to find for a player many have been waiting on since the day he was drafted in 2011.

"I know the defenses are ready for my pump fake so now just like, shoot the ball," Mirotic said. "I've been spending a lot of hours working on my shot before practice, after practice, trying to catch the feeling."

Better late than never or too late?

That's the question surrounding Mirotic and he knows it, being aware of his status as a restricted free-agent-to-be, along with his trade value a month ago being so low, the Bulls could only get a future second-round pick for him from teams.

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With the Bulls having so many questions going into the future, who knows if they want to go through the up-and-down, down-and-up cycle with a talented player yet again, with a big-time financial commitment.

In a sense, Mirotic knows he's left plenty on the table as far as his play through the years and seems to be content with playing with a sense of freedom as the season concludes, whether he's back with the Bulls or not for next year and beyond.

"I just wanna leave a good impression for the Bulls," Mirotic said. "Whatever decision they make. It's been a pleasure. A lot of people dream to be here, I was one of those guys when I was in Europe. I was really like, I wanna go there and play for the Bulls. The history they have. For me, it's a dream come true. Whatever decision they make, I make, whatever. I don't know. The years here have been great. I know it's been up and down. It's been a pleasure and I just wanna finish right."