Ask Aggrey: What is Jimmy Butler's potential?

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Ask Aggrey: What is Jimmy Butler's potential?

Boston, Chicago feels your pain. The news that Rajon Rondo's knee injury from the Celtics' double-overtime loss Friday to Atlanta, prompting him to miss Sunday afternoon's double-overtime win over Miami in Ray Allen's return to Boston was felt throughout the NBA. But the Bulls, perhaps more than any other team, have to be more sympathetic.

Despite the two teams' recent rivalry, stemming from their historic 2009 first-round playoff series, it's no fun seeing even a despised foe weakened due to a devastating injury, particularly when it's a young, elite-level player viewed as not only the face, but the future of the franchise and the biggest reason for the team's potential success. Seeing Paul Pierce, suddenly now the star now most expected to be dealt by the trade deadline, react so genuinely upon learning Rondo's status after Sunday's big victory and Celtics head coach Doc Rivers defiantly state that he believed his team is still a contender were poignant moments reminiscent of last spring in Chicago.

At least the Bulls had an entire offseason to plan for the current campaign and with a younger roster, no reason to push the panic button due a closing championship window. The Celtics, already on the fringe of the playoff picture, don't even have another point guard, let alone the horses to ensure that they remain in postseason contention.

Boston top executive Danny Ainge was reportedly in the market to make a deal before Rondo got hurt, so observers now believe Pierce, who is only guaranteed 4 million next season, and All-Star Kevin Garnett are trade bait to either start the rebuilding process or, after a summer that saw them lose Allen, but replenish their bench, stay in win-now mode by adding more expensive star power. Either way, as crushing as Derrick's injury was, Bulls fans should be grateful that the organization wasn't faced with a similar dilemma.

On to the mailbag. As usual, I've included a few questions from Twitter.

1. What is Jimmy Butler's ceiling (potential)?

Ryan, I can't come up with a player comparison off the top of my head -- in all honesty, Jimmy reminds me of a player from the '80s or early '90s, in a good way -- but I think he has the upside to be a starting-caliber NBA wing. In fact, on a developing team with less aspirations, I think he could be a starter right now. I believe Jimmy is a 10-year pro, a player who can be a defensive stopper of sorts with eventually enough offense to become a low double-digit scorer. Whether or not that happens in Chicago remains to be seen if he's stuck behind a heavy-minutes All-Star like Lu or doesn't develop the handle and consistent jumper to play shooting guard, but an athletic, high-energy, hard-working, defensive-minded young player always has a chance.

2. With Rose bulking up (upper-body) during his rehabilitation, will this help improve his post-up game or improving while finishing at the basket?

Tirso, without a doubt. I'm not so sure about Derrick's post-up game, simply because we haven't seen much of it yet--both he and Thibs have insisted to me that it's decent--but it's feasible that he could utilize that as he regains his explosiveness. Perhaps if and when he's off the ball and still has a smaller defender on him, Thibs could run some of the stuff the Bulls use when Rip has a mismatch. But finishing around the rim is where the added bulk will really help Derrick, already one of the best in that department.

3. Is there any chance Jimmy Butler starts at shooting guard when Luol Deng returns (or, if Deng returns before Monday), "at any point in the season?"

Mark, I highly doubt it. Thibs seems to view Jimmy as more of a pure small forward, which might be a nod to having at least one designated outside shooter in the lineup. Barring injury, it's extremely unlikely that Thibs pulls Rip from the starting lineup (anybody remember Keith Bogans?), regardless of his minutes. Also, after Marco's performance as a starter when Rip was out in December, he's definitely the next man up, as Thibs likes to say. Now, I do think Thibs will be more comfortable pairing Lu and Jimmy on the wing for size and defensive purposes when the time comes, if only to steal some minutes from Jimmy when Lu gets back to his 40 or so minutes a night.

4. Do you foresee the Bulls playing an international game anytime soon?

Johnny, I wouldn't be shocked if the Bulls played in Paris or even visited London again, due to the respective presences of Jo and Lu, and with Derrick's popularity, they'd be a draw just about anywhere, especially if they make a playoff run this postseason. But you never know and sometimes the NBA's choice of teams to play overseas--for instance, low-profile Detroit, which recently played appropriately chosen New York in London--can be a head-scratcher. However, the Bulls have as good, if not better of a chance as any team, unless the league thinks their 2009 game wasn't long enough ago.

5. Can the Bulls survive as a team without much outside shooting, or will it catch up to them?

Alex, if by "survive," you mean make the playoffs, at least contend for home-court advantage in the first round and depending on matchups, potentially advance, then yes, I think the Bulls can survive, despite not having much outside shooting. But I do think they fall short of being a true title contender -- I can't project how much Derrick's eventual return helps them until he's back on the court -- for a few reasons. One of those is outside shooting, though the Bulls do have a knack for making timely perimeter shots in the clutch. More significant to me on offense, is their lack of ability, besides Nate, to create off the dribble, which is something Derrick could address. But before I'm accused of expecting him to be the savior, the Bulls suffered from periodic offensive droughts, even when he was in MVP form. In case you're curious, my other concern is additional depth at center.

6. If the Bulls could select one role player (non superstar) to add to their roster to improve the team, who would you choose?

Zach, there's a giant gulf between role players and non-superstars, in my opinion -- and what about superstar role players, like Nicolas Batum, not to mention players who aren't quite stars, but can't be called role players, such as Danny Granger? -- but I get your drift. It would depend on what one prioritizes and while familiar names like O.J. Mayo and Tyreke Evans could be tossed around, I might go with a guy like J.J. Redick, who obviously is one of the league's best shooters, but also an underrated playmaker and solid team defender, as well as having a seemingly perfect game to mesh with a healthy Derrick's drive-and-kick ability.

7. Who is the biggest bargain in the NBA right now?

Anthony, besides the aforementioned Pierce because of the circumstances discussed above, I'd say Kyle Lowry. Toronto's major offseason acquisition has struggled with injuries, lost his short-lived starting point-guard role -- to incumbent floor general Jose Calderon, who at the outset of this campaign, many observers believed would be traded this season -- and is apparently being blamed for the Raptors' early-season chemistry woes. Regardless of whether he's eventually packaged with currently-sidelined big man Andrea Bargnani or not, Toronto has been consistently rumored to be in the market for a trade and with Raptors top executive Bryan Colangelo in a contract year, it's logical that the hard-playing Lowry, equipped with a palatable deal and on a underperforming team with the luxury of two starting-caliber point guards, finishes the season in the States.

8. Where does Kirk fit when Rose comes back? Rose, Nate, Marco, Butler and Deng should manage the 1-3 spots. What will the Bulls rotation be when D Rose is at full strength?

I figured I'd combine both of these questions, via Twitter from @RAndresLucas and @kdog0126, respectively. Starting with the first question, let's not forget the current starters at guard: Rip and Kirk. If I had to predict an odd man out when Derrick returns, I'd expect it to be Nate. If everyone is healthy, I wouldn't be surprised if he logs a DNP or two. Although Derrick won't be his old self right away, he is, like Nate, a scoring point guard, only bigger, a superior playmaker and a better defender.

I see Nate being used more situationally, with Kirk as Derrick's primary backup, as well as occasionally playing alongside him, likely stealing minutes from Marco and relegating Jimmy to strictly backing up Lu or playing next to him in the odd small-ball set. Besides Lu and obviously the bigs, I think Rip's playing time will be the least impacted by Derrick's return, while Kirk will benefit by getting some much-deserved rest, defending more shooting guards and going against second-unit players instead of the gauntlet of starters at arguably the league's most talented position.

9. I know given his play you might disagree, but I think NOW may be the perfect time to move Carlos. Think I'm crazy?

@BearDownPete22, in theory, you're correct, in that Carlos' value is higher due to his recent stretch and though other teams are still wary of his contract, I can't call you crazy. But I'd disagree that this is the time to trade him, just because of how the Bulls are playing. There's no substitute for chemistry and when Derrick returns, having the handful of guys he's used to playing with will be key for his adjustment and maintaining playoff positioning for this postseason, as well as a potential run next year. Carlos is clearly a primary scorer and facilitator, things that won't change for the foreseeable future, but even if the Bulls were determined to move him, it's unlikely that they'd receive anything close to equal value, at least not without taking back a similar contract.

10. @Ewalz32: How does Stephen Curry not make the All-Star Game roster?

Disregarding his rough outing Friday night in Chicago, Curry is certainly having a season worthy of an All-Star appearance, but timing is everything. Golden State is one of the league's surprise team, but the Warriors are in the West, not the underachieving East, so it's tough to say they deserve two All-Stars. Maybe David Lee is a borderline pick, but Curry's not having a better season than James Harden, Russell Westbrook plays for the conference-leading Thunder, who warrant multiple selections, and the final reserve guard named ahead of him, Tony Parker, is the best player on a better team. Curry can be considered a snub, but not on the historic level many are making it out to be.

2016 NBA Mock Draft: Vincent Goodwill projects the first round

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2016 NBA Mock Draft: Vincent Goodwill projects the first round

1. 76ERS - Ben Simmons, F (LSU)

Whether it’s a two-superstar draft or not, the 76ers could take the guy billed as the first pick for months in Simmons, a versatile and unselfish wing to jumpstart the path back to relevancy.

2. LAKERS - Brandon Ingram, F (Duke) 

Word has it the Lakers love being in this spot after keeping their pick, and Ingram would be a matchup nightmare with his long wingspan and ability to play three positions. But is he special?

3. CELTICS - Dragan Bender, F (Croatia)

This is where it gets uncertain as the Celtics could try to flip this pick for a veteran in win-now mode. But Bender has high upside, even if there’s question as to how long it’ll take him to get there.

4. SUNS - Jaylen Brown, G-F (California) 

One of the more intriguing prospects, Brown wants to work out against Simmons and Ingram for first two slots. Confident and young, can join Devin Booker on the wings as building block for future.

5. TIMBERWOLVES - Kris Dunn, G (Providence)

For Tom Thibodeau’s first draft pick, passing up a guard with defensive instincts could be too much to resist. His offense and shooting has progressed but Thibodeau will likely salivate at what Dunn can do for a defense.

6. PELICANS - Jamal Murray, G (Kentucky)

The Pelicans had injuries across the board but especially in the backcourt, so Murray will be able to play both positions and get a chance to compete immediately as a scorer off the ball.

7. NUGGETS - Buddy Hield, G (Oklahoma)

An explosive shooter, Hield maxed out at the college level as a four-year player. And as a professional, has good size for a shooting guard as he’ll play more off the ball as opposed to creating on his own.

8. KINGS - Skal Labissiere, F/C (Kentucky)

We all know the Kings’ owner loves picking up John Calipari players and this athletic big could join DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein in the frontcourt rotation.

9. RAPTORS - Marquese Chriss, F (Washington)

If Raps truly believe they can win now, perhaps they’ll package pick in trade for a veteran. But if they keep it, Chriss has one of the bigger upsides because he’s long, athletic and hasn’t played basketball long.

10. BUCKS - Jakob Poeltl, C (Utah) 

Back to the basket scorer, Poeltl could join an athletic and rangy Bucks team without having to fit the usual profile. How he performs defensively protecting the basket could be his greatest value down the line.

[RELATED: Mark Strotman's 2016 NBA Mock Draft]

11. MAGIC - Deyonta Davis, F (Michigan State) 

Prime candidate for a trade since the Magic have to start winning, but Davis has a legit upside although he has some question marks. Could play a big three or small-ball center with his athleticism.

12. JAZZ - Domantas Sabonis, PF/C (Gonzaga) 

The Jazz love stockpiling bigs who can protect the rim and score inside and Sabonis is this year’s man of mystery, an intriguing prospect.

13. SUNS - Henry Ellenson, C/F (Marquette) 

With Tyson Chandler aging and if they take a wing at four, they could go big here with Ellenson, a skilled big who could learn behind Chandler and develop at his own pace.

14. BULLS - Denzel Valentine, G-F (Michigan State) 

Since the Bulls passed on Draymond Green, they might go Green-lite with Valentine. The Bulls clearly need help on the wings and in the backcourt with depth, and Valentine could check all the boxes with his versatility.

15. NUGGETS - Taurean Prince, F (Baylor) 

With Wilson Chandler’s health in doubt, the Nuggets could draft Prince as an insurance policy. Prince is mature (22 years old), and fits the profile of a 3-and-D guy.

16. CELTICS - Timothe Luwawu, F (France) 

A guy the Celtics can stash overseas if need be, if the Celtics don’t package it. Luwawu is a good athlete who finishes in traffic and can be an elite defender in time.

17. GRIZZLIES - Demetrius Jackson, G (Notre Dame) 

Who knows if Jackson actually sticks around this long but with Mike Conley facing free agency, Jackson could be new coach David Fizdale’s hand-picked point guard who could develop in this slowdown system.

18. PISTONS - Wade Baldwin IV, G (Vanderbilt)

Don’t be shocked if the Pistons trade this pick for a veteran but they’re in need of a backup point guard in the worst way. Baldwin wouldn’t be a bad selection to play behind Reggie Jackson.

19. NUGGETS - Malik Beasley, G (Florida State)

He’s young (19), with room to grow but can score at the college level. Expect them to nab two wings with their trio of first-rounders.

20. PACERS - Tyler Ulis, G (Kentucky) 

The Pacers want to play fast, and there’s no better training ground than the dribble drive system in Kentucky. Ulis plays with pace and is a great distributor in the open floor.

[RELATED: Mark Schanowski's 2016 NBA Mock Draft]

21. HAWKS - Furkan Korkmaz, G (International)

Fluid scorer and outstanding shooter, according to accounts as Hawks need depth on the wings with Kent Bazemore entering free agency and Kyle Korver aging.

22. HORNETS - Damian Jones, C (Vanderbilt) 

Will take some time to develop but it’s easy to see the Hornets taking a big who can finish around the rim and knows where to get his shots. Seems to be a low-maintenance type.

23. CELTICS - Zhou Qi, C (International)

With size that’s scary in a good and bad way (7-foot-2), Qi has potential as a shot-blocking center who can cover a lot of space in little time.

24. 76ERS - DeAndre Bembry, F (St. Joseph’s)

Taking a local product in Bembry could help replenish the weakest point of the 76er roster—the wings, which has been historically bad in the Sam Hinkie era.
    
25. CLIPPERS - Caris LeVert, G-F (Michigan)

Before he got hurt, he was thought to be a sure-fire lottery pick with his skill set and versatility. If his medicals check out, will Doc Rivers roll the dice?

26. 76ERS - Dejounte Murray, G (Washington)

Murray can play both spots and has good size but is inconsistent. The 76ers will have to hope he can develop into a decent jump shooter.

27. RAPTORS - Cheick Diallo, PF/C (Kansas)

The Raptors aren’t afraid of taking big man projects and letting them develop, and with Jonas Valanciunas, they can let him learn at his own pace.

28. SUNS - Malachi Richardson, G/F (Syracuse) 

Richardson could be a mid-round pick or even slip early to the second as a potential shot maker and creator.

29. SPURS - Brice Johnson, F (North Carolina) 

Opinions on Johnson are mixed given his career at Carolina, but here’s thinking the Spurs won’t pass on his production as they’ll need frontcourt help and length.

30. WARRIORS - Juan Hernangomez, F (International) 

Fast-paced player who can make quick decisions in the Warriors’ system. But honestly, he’s a down the line option the franchise can stash away for the future and not take up cap space.

2016 NBA Mock Draft: Mark Schanowski makes his picks

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2016 NBA Mock Draft: Mark Schanowski makes his picks

1. 76ERS - Ben Simmons, F (LSU)

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown has a relationship with the Simmons family from his years coaching in Australia. Plus, the versatile 6-10 forward might be the only player in this draft with superstar potential, making it an easy choice for the 76’ers.

2. LAKERS – Brandon Ingram, F (Duke)

Los Angeles needs scoring punch in the frontcourt, and the 6-foot-9 Ingram has been compared to Kevin Durant by some scouts. He should fit in well with the up-tempo style preferred by new head coach Luke Walton.

3. CELTICS – Dragan Bender, F (Croatia)

Danny Ainge will be looking to use this pick in a trade for an All-Star caliber veteran (like Jimmy Butler). If not, the 7-foot Bender is the likely choice as this year’s version of Kristaps Porzingis.

4. SUNS - Jaylen Brown, SF-SG (California)

Brown has the most potential of the wing prospects available. Tremendous athleticism and ability to attack the rim. Still needs to improve his outside shooting after just one season at Cal.

5. TIMBERWOLVES - Buddy Hield, SG-SF (Oklahoma)

Tom Thibodeau gets his first chance to “buy the groceries” as head of basketball operations. Hield will provide some much-needed outside shooting to complement the talents of 2015-16 Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns.

6. PELICANS - Jamal Murray, G (Kentucky)

Murray might be the best pure shooter in this draft and the Pelicans will be in the market for a shooting guard with Eric Gordon likely leaving in free agency.

7. NUGGETS - Kris Dunn, PG (Providence)

Look for a trade at this point, maybe involving a team like the Bulls looking for a point guard. Nuggets have three picks in first round and might try to move up to draft either Hield or Murray.

8. KINGS - Demetrius Jackson, PG (Notre Dame) 

Dysfunctional Kings looking for a fresh start with Dave Joerger taking over as head coach. Rajon Rondo could leave in free agency, and Jackson could be a future star in the mold of Kyle Lowry.

9. RAPTORS - Marquesse Chriss, F (Washington)

Toronto has been looking to upgrade the power forward spot for the last two years. Chriss is one of the youngest players in the draft, with the highest ceiling among the PF’s still on the board.

10. BUCKS - Jakob Poeltl, C (Utah)

Milwaukee could use another big man to complement their collection of athletic wing players. Free agent Greg Monroe is likely available in a trade after a disappointing first season in the beer city.

[RELATED: Vincent Goodwill's 2016 NBA Mock Draft]

11. MAGIC - Deyonta Davis, PF-C (Michigan St.)

With defensive-minded Frank Vogel installed as the new head coach, the Magic will be looking for a shot-blocking presence inside. Davis is raw after limited playing time in his only college season, but should be a plus defender right away.

12. JAZZ - Denzel Valentine, SG-SF (Michigan St.)

Utah has done a good job of building a talented, young roster and a smart, four-year collegian like Valentine should fit right in. A very skilled passer with high basketball I.Q., he should eventually become a solid NBA three-point shooter.

13. SUNS - Henry Ellenson, PF, (Marquette)

With their second pick in round one, the Suns can go for a stretch PF like Ellenson, who also can score in the post. Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere also a possibility here.

14. BULLS - Wade Baldwin, PG, (Vanderbilt)

Tremendous athlete, who measured at 6-foot-4 with shoes at the draft combine, with an amazing 6-11 wing span. Should be an NBA-ready defender right away, and the Bulls can groom him to take over at point guard in 2017-18 after Derrick Rose most likely leaves in free agency.

15. NUGGETS - Skal Labissiere, PF-C (Kentucky)

With three picks in round one, the Nuggets can afford to take a chance on the painfully thin seven footer. Labissiere has an excellent shooting touch, with should complement Denver’s other young bigs, Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic.

16. CELTICS - Timothe Luwawu, SF (France)

Again, don’t be surprised if Ainge packages this pick in a trade on draft night, but Luwawu is an intriguing prospect with excellent defensive skills. Also, a personal favorite of our Bulls’ analyst Kendall Gill.

17. GRIZZLIES - Domantas Sabonis, PF-C (Gonzaga)

The son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis has a polished low post game, and the frame to withstand physical NBA play in the paint. He gives the Grizzlies a young big to develop behind Marc Gasol, who is coming back from a broken foot.

18. PISTONS - Malachi Richardson, G, (Syracuse)

Detroit could use another reliable guard off the bench to play behind Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Richardson burst on to NBA scouts’ radar after a strong showing in the NCAA tournament.

19. NUGGETS - Taurean Prince, F, (Baylor)

It’s unlikely Denver will keep all three of its first round picks, but if they do, an athletic forward like Prince is a good value pick at this point.

20. PACERS- Tyler Ulis, PG, (Kentucky)

Larry Bird made no secret of the fact he wants his team to play at a faster tempo and score more points. Having a speedy guard like Ulis to run the second unit would fit in well with Bird’s master plan.

[RELATED: Mark Strotman's 2016 NBA Mock Draft]

21. HAWKS - Cheick Diallo, PF-C (Kansas)

With Al Horford heading into free agency, the Hawks need to add some depth to the frontcourt. Diallo didn’t play much in his one season at Kansas, but showed a lot of potential at the NBA draft combine.

22. HORNETS - Malik Beasley, SG-SF (Florida St.)

Charlotte needs to fortify the wing spots with Nic Batum, Courtney Lee and Marvin Williams all free agents. Beasley is coming off a strong season in the ACC and scouts like his aggressiveness on the offensive end.

23. CELTICS - Furkan Korkmaz, SG-SF (Turkey)

Ainge completes his international trifecta by taking this sharp-shooting wing player in the mold of Orlando’s first round pick from a year ago, Mario Hezonja. Korkmaz has good athleticism and could develop into a streaky perimeter scorer.

24. 76ERS- DeAndre Bembry, SG-SF (St. Joseph’s)

The Sixers could go in a number of directions with so many needs, so why not take a local Philly product like Bembry. He showed very well at draft combine, and has the versatility to play both wing spots off the bench.

25. CLIPPERS - Brice Johnson, F, (North Carolina)

Coming off a strong NCAA tournament, Johnson would give the Clippers a talented forward to add to their bench. Doc Rivers is still looking for more consistency on that second unit.

26. 76ERS - Dejounte Murray, G (Washington)

Probably would have been better served to spend another year in college, but could develop as a combo guard in Philly.

27. RAPTORS - Damian Jones, C (Vanderbilt)

With Bismack Biyombo ready to cash in after a strong playoff run, the Raptors need a center to back up Jonas Valanciunas. Jones has good size and showed well against SEC competition.

28. SUNS - Caris LeVert, SG (Michigan)

Phoenix coach Earl Watson wants to play fast, and if the Suns keep this pick, LeVert is a guy worth taking a chance on. He probably would have been a lottery pick if not for injuries in his last two years at Michigan.

29. SPURS - Thon Maker, PF-C (Australia)

The international man of mystery in this year’s draft. Intriguing size at 7-foot-1, but NBA scouts aren’t sure what position he’ll play. The Spurs can let him develop overseas for a couple years before bringing him over.

30. WARRIORS - Ante Zizic, C (Croatia)

Another draft and stash candidate for the loaded Warriors. Golden State could use another center if Festus Ezeli is allowed to leave in free agency.

Jimmy Butler named to NBA All-Defense 2nd team

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Jimmy Butler named to NBA All-Defense 2nd team

Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler has been named to the NBA All-Defense 2nd team. This marks the third consecutive year that Butler has been given 2nd team honors, which is decided based off of votes from sports writers and broadcasters.

Butler led the Bulls this season with 1.6 steals per contest to go along with averages of 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

The 26-year-old Butler averaged five more minutes per game than any of his Bulls teammates. He was the only Chicago player to receive any votes. 

Here is a complete list of the NBA All-Defense team selections:

2015-16 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM

Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio)
Draymond Green (Golden State)
DeAndre Jordan (L.A. Clippers)
Avery Bradley (Boston)
Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers)

2015-16 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM

Paul Millsap (Atlanta)
Paul George (Indiana)
Hassan Whiteside (Miami)
Tony Allen (Memphis)
Jimmy Butler (Chicago)