分类目录归档:Bulls Jerseys China

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Even before injuries to Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison, wing depth loomed as an issue for the Bulls.

Hutchison was coming off a rookie season shortened by injury. Porter has battled nagging injuries throughout his career. And Denzel Valentine was coming off missing an entire season to reconstructive ankle surgery.

On Tuesday, the Bulls fly back to Chicago following their three-game trip with Porter and Hutchison still out and Valentine not playing much although recently in the rotation. Coach Jim Boylen mostly has relied on a three-guard lineup featuring Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono and Coby White. Both Shaquille Harrison and Dunn have started at small forward on this trip.

“It is frustrating. I try not to look at those things like it’s my frustration. I feel bad for the guy,” Boylen said. “Obviously, the team needs (Porter). But I feel bad for him. I think he’s frustrated. It wears on him. He’s a competitive guy. He’s a winning player. So it’s very difficult for him.”

Porter, in his first comments to reporters in a while, agreed.

“It’s definitely tough watching the guys go through that,” Porter said of the team’s 6-14 start. “I just try to remain positive. I still try to be a leader to them in the locker room, what I see out there when I’m watching, what we can do better. I’m always going to be voicing my opinion on what we should do or just adjustments out there on the court.”

Boylen said Porter and Hutchison will be re-evaluated this week in Chicago. Porter has played just nine games this season because of a soft tissue injury to his left foot. Hutchison is on his third injury this season, a sprained right shoulder.

Originally, the Bulls listed Porter’s injury as a sprained left foot. But a second MRI exam on Nov. 19 revealed bone bruising which the team disclosed in a release and Porter cited it as a bone bruise in his remarks to reporters.

“It takes time. Every day it gets a little better. Baby steps,” Porter said. “You can reaggravate it absolutely. And that’s what we’re trying to monitor to make sure that these days that I do activities, the next day it’s not overaggravated or swells back up. We’re definitely watching it close.”

Porter said he has been able to do some elliptical work and lift weights with some spot set shooting.

“I have no idea about coming back sooner or later.,” Porter said. “The new MRI I’m supposed to be taking is just supposed to see how far along I’ve come. It will eliminate any other things that might’ve happened as far as like tissue and stuff like that. Looking forward to it.”

Just like Boylen is looking forward to Porter’s return, whenever it happens.

“We miss his calm, veteran demeanor,” Boylen said. “I said this last year and this year too: He settles us down a bit, maybe at times we need that. He makes timely shots. He’s one of our better shooters. And he has positional size, which is a huge part of that big wing position. We miss those things. He has done a terrific job of trying to help the younger guys and stay connected even though he has been hurt. It’s difficult. But he has a veteran voice. He’s one of our captains. And he’s doing a good job of that.”

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PORTLAND, Ore. — There were more than a handful of excuses a few weeks ago, and Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen was well-versed in all of them.

A new system, new teammates, a sore oblique, needing the ball more to get into a rhythm, better communication. Pick one, any one, and believe what you want.

But after practice Sunday at Portland State University, Markkanen offered no excuses. The only place he wanted to put the blame was on himself.

‘‘I can’t really say anything about [the system] at this point,’’ Markkanen said. ‘‘We’ve played a good amount of games now in this system already, so it should have come.’’

It hasn’t. Markkanen has been the biggest disappointment on the Bulls’ roster and among the biggest in the NBA. Through 20 games, he is averaging 13.3 points and seven rebounds and is shooting 34.9 percent from the field, including 28.2 percent from three-point range.

This from a player who averaged 18.7 points and nine rebounds last season and, along with guard Zach LaVine, was one of the pillars upon whom the Bulls’ rebuild was relying.

The biggest indictment of how bad things have been for Markkanen has come late in close games. There have been a handful of games in which coach Jim Boylen has benched Markkanen in favor of guard Ryan Arcidiacono or guard Coby White.

No wonder Markkanen showed up an hour early to practice Sunday, looking to get some extra work in.

‘‘I believe he does,’’ Boylen said when he was asked if he thought Markkanen has the makeup to get out of his slump. ‘‘I believe he has the makeup to overcome a difficult situation, some adversity. Again, I go back to the work. If you work, I think you can fight through anything. You work and care, and I think he does care.

‘‘I want him to handle in-game adversity better, move to the next play, put that one behind you, win the next play. Those are kind of the things we talk about.’’

Much of that talk went on after practice, with Boylen calling Markkanen over for a quick heart-to-heart. He reminded him the three-pointer is falling in practice, has fallen the previous two seasons and will start falling again.

Markkanen was a 36.2 percent three-point shooter as a rookie and a 36.1 percent three-point shooter last season. Those are the numbers the Bulls believe in.

‘‘I’m not worried about my shot,’’ Markkanen said. ‘‘It’s going to come. I’ve shot it well in practice, so I know I can do it. I just have to do it in the game. That’s not a concern for me; it’s going to fall.

‘‘It’s more the overall play. Obviously, I put the highest pressure on myself, so I’m trying to reach that level. It’s been frustrating that I’m not getting there. At the same time, it works as motivation and keeps pushing me to work hard.’’

Boylen is trying to help in the motivation department.

‘‘I believe in his shooting,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘I believe in him as a player. He came here an hour early this morning and got his workout in. Then he went through the full practice, so he’s doing what I think you have to do, which is work your way out of it. I’m confident he will.’’

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Bulls forward Luke Kornet underwent nose surgery today due a sinus obstruction. The obstruction is the result of a broken nose he suffered while playing with the New York Knicks in Dec. 2018.

Leading up to the Bulls game tonight at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, Boylen expanded upon the Bulls official announcement.

“Kornet had sinus surgery this morning,” Boylen said. “He had blockage and some issues from a previous fracture from when he was in New York. We just felt it was time to go in there and clean that thing out. That happened this morning at 6 a.m. He’s out. Surgery went well. We’ll have more to report as we go. Originally, it was a 7-10 day thing where he’d be back. I think it’s one of those things they don’t know until they get in there how extreme it is. But he had blockage and it needed to be done.”

Kornet was drafted by the Knicks in 2017 and this is his first season with the Bulls.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Even before injuries to Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison, wing depth loomed as an issue for the Bulls.

Hutchison was coming off a rookie season shortened by injury. Porter has battled nagging injuries throughout his career. And Denzel Valentine was coming off missing an entire season to reconstructive ankle surgery.

On Tuesday, the Bulls fly back to Chicago following their three-game trip with Porter and Hutchison still out and Valentine not playing much although recently in the rotation. Coach Jim Boylen mostly has relied on a three-guard lineup featuring Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono and Coby White. Both Shaquille Harrison and Dunn have started at small forward on this trip.

“It is frustrating. I try not to look at those things like it’s my frustration. I feel bad for the guy,” Boylen said. “Obviously, the team needs (Porter). But I feel bad for him. I think he’s frustrated. It wears on him. He’s a competitive guy. He’s a winning player. So it’s very difficult for him.”

Porter, in his first comments to reporters in a while, agreed.

“It’s definitely tough watching the guys go through that,” Porter said of the team’s 6-14 start. “I just try to remain positive. I still try to be a leader to them in the locker room, what I see out there when I’m watching, what we can do better. I’m always going to be voicing my opinion on what we should do or just adjustments out there on the court.”

Boylen said Porter and Hutchison will be re-evaluated this week in Chicago. Porter has played just nine games this season because of a soft tissue injury to his left foot. Hutchison is on his third injury this season, a sprained right shoulder.

Originally, the Bulls listed Porter’s injury as a sprained left foot. But a second MRI exam on Nov. 19 revealed bone bruising which the team disclosed in a release and Porter cited it as a bone bruise in his remarks to reporters.

“It takes time. Every day it gets a little better. Baby steps,” Porter said. “You can reaggravate it absolutely. And that’s what we’re trying to monitor to make sure that these days that I do activities, the next day it’s not overaggravated or swells back up. We’re definitely watching it close.”

Porter said he has been able to do some elliptical work and lift weights with some spot set shooting.

“I have no idea about coming back sooner or later.,” Porter said. “The new MRI I’m supposed to be taking is just supposed to see how far along I’ve come. It will eliminate any other things that might’ve happened as far as like tissue and stuff like that. Looking forward to it.”

Just like Boylen is looking forward to Porter’s return, whenever it happens.

“We miss his calm, veteran demeanor,” Boylen said. “I said this last year and this year too: He settles us down a bit, maybe at times we need that. He makes timely shots. He’s one of our better shooters. And he has positional size, which is a huge part of that big wing position. We miss those things. He has done a terrific job of trying to help the younger guys and stay connected even though he has been hurt. It’s difficult. But he has a veteran voice. He’s one of our captains. And he’s doing a good job of that.”

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Better defensive numbers from the Chicago Bulls this season can be directly attributed to the efforts of players like Shaquille Harrison of late.

A big 20-point victory over the Central Division foe Detroit Pistons put the Chicago Bulls in position to gain real ground in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bulls moved to a record of 5-10 on the season before a key Nov. 22 showdown against a former superstar wing of this team, Jimmy Butler, and the Miami Heat.

The Bulls head into this showdown against the Heat with a record of 5-10. Meanwhile the Heat have 10 wins heading into this game. It will come at home for the Bulls at the United Center with a tip-off of 7 p.m. CT. It would be one of the most impressive wins of the season thus far if the Bulls were able to pull this one off as 4.5-point underdogs.

A key factor that could help the Bulls in this matchup with the Heat is the breakthrough of combo guard/wing Shaquille Harrison. In the win over the Pistons, Harrison contributed with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block. In spotty minutes on the floor for head coach Jim Boylen and the Bulls, Harrison has a team-high defensive rating of 96 thus far.

The 6-foot-7 and 190 pound Harrison could be exactly what this Bulls team needed off the bench in terms of a defensive presence. If he’s going to contribute in a positive sense on the offensive end too, then Harrison could actually be one of the most valuable pieces in the rotation for Boylen this season.

His 1.4 defensive box plus/minus rating he posted last season was already one of the best for any role players for the Bulls down the stretch. Add a positive offensive impact (last season had a 101 offensive rating), then Harrison should be vying for a seventh or eighth man role in the rotation in terms of the allotment of minutes.

What Harrison also adds to this rotation for the Bulls is a lengthier perimeter presence on defense. There’s really only three players that Boylen can play as true wings. And two of them, small forwards Chandler Hutchison and Otto Porter Jr., recently underwent various injury issues that kept them off the court.
Next: 2020 NBA Draft Big Board version 1.0

Between the 6-foot-4 point guard Kris Dunn and Harrison have the two best defensive ratings on the team so far this season. A rejuvenated Bulls effort on the defensive end of the floor could help the Bulls take another step forward in this rebuild. Giving a bigger role to Harrison makes a lot of sense for Boylen and the Bulls moving forward.

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The Chicago Bulls need help off the bench to get beyond the four-win mark they sit at now. Could rookie center Daniel Gafford be that answer?

The final score of 115-101 from a Nov. 18 home loss at the United Center for the Chicago Bulls against the Central Division foe Milwaukee Bucks didn’t do their true efforts on the floor that night justice. The Bulls kept it close throughout, at least until the reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo took over for the Bucks late in the fourth quarter.

There was actually one point where the Bulls owned a 99-98 lead in the fourth quarter before the Bucks went on their 17-2 run to end the game. That actually wasn’t one of the bigger letdowns of the season so far. In the midst of a season where the Bulls might be getting off to just as poor of a start as they were last year, signs of progress are very welcome.

A down start from some of the other Bulls frontcourt rotation players gives a gaping opportunity to the Bulls second round draft pick from back in June. Former Arkansas Razorbacks big man Daniel Gafford had a spectacular night in his first real regular season minutes in the NBA. He was likely the sole reason why the Bulls were actually hanging with the Bucks up until the fourth quarter.

There’s a very valid argument that Gafford was actually the best player on the floor for the Bulls in that double-digit loss earlier in the week to the Bucks.

Here’s a look into the definitive case for Daniel Gafford of the Chicago Bulls to get more playing time and a bigger role under head coach Jim Boylen moving forward.

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Jim Boylen has plenty of pet phrases. Role acceptance is one of them.

And if you want to get the Bulls coach rolling, ask him about Kris Dunn’s performance in that department.

“Big time. Big time,” Boylen repeated, for good measure. “He just wants to win. He’s the first guy in the breakfast room. You have to be in the building 45 minutes before [practice]. He’s in 1 hour, 45 minutes before. He does his workout 45 minutes before everybody else with Coach [Nate] Loenser. He is locked in. He cares. He always cared. And he’s playing winning basketball. I’m really happy for him.”

There may be no greater compliment from a coach to a player than to say one is playing winning basketball. Relayed Boylen’s comment, Dunn didn’t take it lightly.

“That means a lot. That’s what I try to do,” Dunn said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. “I come from a winning program at Providence. I know what winning looks like. And I know what it takes to win.”

Right now, that involves Dunn accepting his role as a reserve aimed at wreaking defensive havoc on opponents. When Dunn scores 13 points, as he did in Tuesday’s victory over the Knicks, it’s a bonus.

There’s a lot going right with Dunn’s game these days. He leads the NBA with 25 steals, posting multiple steals in seven of 11 games. He has tallied 30 assists to just nine turnovers in 224 minutes, emblematic of solid decision-making. And he’s shooting 47.1 percent from the field — a figure made even more impressive by his anemic 17.6 percent shooting from 3-point range.

“I take pride in my defense,” Dunn said. “The second unit, I think we have good defenders in our group. Archie [Ryan Arcidiacono], he’s a dog. Thad [Young], he’s a dog. Coby [White], he’s a dog. I could go on and on. We try to come in and bring great energy and try to maintain the lead or, if we’re down, try to get it back.”

But Dunn’s biggest area of growth has been his role acceptance. It’s not easy losing a starting job, particularly when it comes on the heels of executive vice president John Paxson publicly challenging Dunn. And then the Bulls acquired Tomas Satoransky in a sign-and-trade transaction, drafted White and re-signed Arcidiacono.

Multiple outlets reported over the offseason that Dunn and his representatives wanted a change of scenery. The Bulls, league sources said in July, held trade talks with several teams, including the Grizzlies, regarding a sign-and-trade transaction for Justin Holiday.

Instead, Dunn returned. And since the first day of voluntary September workouts, he has maintained a positive attitude.

“It’s a good team we have. I just wanted to be a part of it. We have a lot of talented players, a good group of guys. I wanted to buy into what Coach is preaching, buy into the system,” Dunn said. “All in all, I feel my game can go anywhere — starting, coming off the bench. Wherever you put me at, I’m a hooper.”

This example hasn’t been lost on young players like the rookie White.

“That’s my dog,” White told NBC Sports Chicago. “We’re part of the bench mob. Ain’t that right, KD? I love playing with KD. I know he’s going to compete at both ends. If things aren’t going well, he can turn the game around with his energy. He’s passionate. You love to play with people who play hard and want to win.

“Our relationship has grown on and off the court. He has instilled confidence in me. I haven’t been shooting it well before [Tuesday night]. KD told me to keep being aggressive and keep shooting. He’s always encouraging his teammates. When one of us does something good, he’s the first to hype us up.”

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Wendell Carter Jr. is on his way to doubling his double-doubles from a season ago.

It’s something the Bulls’ second-year center is well aware of — and a number he is looking to build upon as a scorer and rebounder.

“I take a lot of pride in that,” Carter said. “The more versatile you are as a player, being able to affect both ends of the court, the more valuable you are in this league. So I take that as a challenge and try to stick to it every day.”

Carter has 12 double-doubles in 22 starts after scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds Wednesday in the Bulls’ 106-99 victory against the Grizzlies. He had seven double-doubles in 44 starts last season.

The statistic is reflective of Carter’s continued improvement, coach Jim Boylen said. He is tied for ninth in the league in double-doubles.

“Health, consistent play, conditioning, he’s in unbelievable shape,” Boylen said. “He’s an intelligent player, so when you’re healthy and you feel good and you can get up and down, I think you have a tendency to thrive, and he’s doing that, and he embraces the dirty-work parts of the game, which we need.

“He anchors our defense, which he takes pride in, and he’s a developing young offensive player. We’ve tried to give him the ball more. We’ve made a conscious effort to run a few things for him, and he’s responded.”

Carter squared up against Jaren Jackson Jr., whom the Grizzlies drafted three spots ahead of him at No. 4 overall in 2018. Both players are the same age, but Carter said he had no hard feelings about getting bypassed by Memphis and falling to No. 7 overall, where the Bulls took him.

“I try not to pay too much attention to that,” Carter said.

“Teams require different personnel, so I’m not worried about that.”

Injury updates

Forwards Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison remain sidelined with no timetable for their returns, Boylen said.

Porter underwent an MRI exam on his left foot, but results were not available before the game.

“Maybe that will tell us it’s healing, maybe it won’t,” Boylen said. “But, yeah, it’s frustrating.”

Meanwhile, a follow-up examination showed that Hutchison has a soft-tissue bruise on his right shoulder.

The Bulls have been without Porter since his last game Nov. 6. Hutchison has missed five of the last seven games.

Guard Kris Dunn made his third start in a row with both players out of the mix.

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Critics will condemn a team for missing with a draft choice even in the bottom third of the draft. But there’s really few “worst” drafts at No. 22 because it’s so much hit and miss at No. 22 in the draft. It’s rare a team will get an All-Star since there only have been three from the No. 22 slot in almost the last half century. There have been many productive players selected, like Scott Skiles, Kenny Thomas, Jerry Reynolds, Randy Wittman, Chris Mills, Jarrett Jack, Johnny Davis and Courtney Lee. They became starters and often double figure scorers, though not at the All-Star level. The only All-Stars since 1970 selected from No. 22 were Reggie Lewis, Truck Robinson and Norm Nixon. George McGinnis was selected there, but more as a future since he went to the ABA.

Here’s a look at the best and worst No. 22 selections:
Best:
Norm Nixon – 1977
Norm Nixon, 1977

Nixon came out of modest Duquesne and went on to be the lead guard for two Lakers championship teams while making an All-Star appearance. He was exceedingly popular, but traded to the then San Diego Clippers for Byron Scott so Magic Johnson could be the primary ball handler for the Lakers. He became an All-Star with the Clippers, but then was injured.
Leonard Robinson – 1974
2. Leonard “Truck” Robinson, 1974

He played for five teams, but twice was an All-Star as one of the most rugged rebounders in the league, leading the league one season with 15.7 rebounds per game while averaging 22.7 points. He followed that with a 24 and 13 season. He played 11 seasons and was all-NBA first team in 1978.
Reggie Lewis – 1987
3. Reggie Lewis, 1987

The high scoring guard from little Northeastern had back to back seasons averaging 20.8 points before his shocking death from heart failure practicing in the summer before the 1993-94 season. He’d had a heart episode in that season’s playoffs. He made one All-Star team and had been considered a Celtics star of the future.
Scott Skiles – 1986
4. Scott Skiles, 1986

The high scoring and rugged Michigan State guard wasn’t doing many redraft workouts since he was in jail. Skiles was on probation from a drug violation when he was arrested for drunk driving. Though Skiles never spoke about it, many at Michigan State say he accepted the drug charge to cover for a teammate. Skiles had a difficult start with the Bucks and Pacers before going to Orlando and becoming one of the league’s top distributing guards and still holds the all-time NBA one-game assists record. He led the NBA in assists in 1993 and was a league Most Improved Player. He went on to coach four teams, including the Bulls.
Johnny Davis – 1976
5. Johnny Davis, 1976

The rookie guard was coming off the bench for the Portland Trailblazers in the 1977 playoffs when Dave Twardzik was injured. Davis moved into the starting lineup and his speed invigorated Portland’s defense and fast break as a key factor in the run to the title. He then went on to a high scoring career after being traded to the Indiana Pacers and has been a longtime NBA coach and assistant.
Worst:
Jeryl Sasser – 2001
1. Jeryl Sasser, 2001

He played two seasons with Orlando and then overseas without much NBA impact. Later in that draft were four All-Stars with Gerald Wallace at 25, Tony Parker at 28, Gilbert Arenas at 31 and Mehmet Okur at 38. Plus, there were other contributing players like Bobby Simmons from DePaul, Jamaal Tinsley, the Bulls Trenton Hassell and, yes, Brian Scalabrine at No. 35.
Zoran Planinic – 2003
2. Zoran Planinic, 2003

He started overseas, played three unproductive seasons with the Nets and went back overseas. It was a rich harvest of long term rotation players and starters picked afterwards, including Travis Outlaw at 23, Carlos Delfino at 25, Kendrick Perkins at 27, Leandro Barbosa at 28, All-Star Josh Howard at 29, Luke Walton at 32, Zaza Pachulia at 42 and then All-Stars Mo Williams at 47 and Kyle Korver at 51.
Casey Jacobson – 2002
3. Casey Jacobson, 2002

He played four seasons in spot duty with three teams and then overseas. Detroit Pistons playoff star Tayshaun Prince was the next pick in that draft with high scoring John Salmons later in the first round and All-Star Carlos Boozer in the second round.
Marcus Williams – 2006
4. Marcus Williams, 2006

He had a brief NBA run before going overseas for a long stretch. All-Star Kyle Lowry came two picks later and then All-Star Paul Millsap in the second round. Rugged defender P.J. Tucker also was a second round pick.
Clyde Mayes – 1975
5. Clyde Mayes, 1975

He rarely played in the NBA, but had a long career overseas. The next pick was famed scorer and All-Star Lloyd (World B) Free. Another All-Star, Dan Roundfield, went later in the first round. There also was Bobby Gross, a key role player for the Portland championship team and Wilbur Holland, who had a strong run for the Bulls late in the 1970s after being a fifth round pick. Another bad one was 2009 when the Trailblazers selected Victor Claver. Later came Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Omri Casspi, DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Jerebko, Marcus Thornton, Danny Green, Patty Mills and Patrick Beverley.

I looked at 10 mock drafts for the No. 22 pick, and six had the Bulls selecting Boise State senior small forward Chandler Hutchison. No other player was mentioned more than once. The rumor last month when Hutchison stopped working out for teams was that he received a promise to be picked in the first round. The speculation was that it was the Bulls and it seems most everyone believes that.

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Now that the Suns have the #1 pick in the 2018 draft locked up, it’s time to move on to more pressing issues.

Who will the Suns be picking at #16?

Realistically, the Suns might not even keep the pick. Now that they have secured the ultimate reward for multiple seasons of really bad basketball, it’s time for the Suns to finally win some games. The #16 pick could be used in a trade to bring a win now player into the fold.

In the current NBA landscape mid first round rookies don’t usually contribute much immediately.

It didn’t always used to be that way.

Ricky Sobers entered the NBA at a time when rookies were expected to make immediate contributions.

A time when first round picks weren’t given years of excuses for poor performances.

A time when the first round of the draft was only 18 picks.

Being picked at #16 actually made Sobers a late first round pick.

It would be the equivalent of the #27 overall pick with the current 30 pick per round system.

But for those of you who think that #27 might be a little late to produce quality talent, think about this… Four of the last five players taken at that spot are Kyle Kuzma, Larry Nance Jr., Bogdan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gobert. That’s arguably as good as the Suns have done picking in the lottery.

Being picked at #16, Sobers, an All-American from the UNLV Running Rebels, was ready to contribute right away.

He arrived in Phoenix for a very special year (1975-76) and managed to play a pivotal role.

The regular season wasn’t anything particularly foudroyant for Sobers. He played in 78 games coming off the bench and averaged 9.2 points and 2.8 assists per game. He did progress during the season, scoring in double figures in 19 of his last 26 games and pouring in a season high 27 points.

The postseason was where Sobers really shined.

Sobers upped his averages to 13 points and 4.2 assists per game in the playoffs and actually moved into the starting lineup during the Conference Finals against the defending champion Golden St. Warriors and for all six games of the NBA Finals series against the Celtics.

After a relatively quiet first round series, Sobers put his mark on the series against the Warriors.

By game six, Sobers was such a potent weapon for the Suns, with 21 points through three quarters, that the Warriors were actually switching defensive assignments to account for him. The Warriors moved future hall of famer Rick Barry off of Sobers to give Phil Smith a chance to try to contain him.

The move seemed to backfire though, because while Smith did in fact contain Sobers, Dick Van Arsdale managed to limit Barry to just two fourth quarter points after scoring 28 in the first three.

The Suns 105-104 home win tied the series up at 3-3 and forced a game seven on the road against the Warriors.

So what did the rookie Sobers do when facing the hostile environment of a playoff game seven?

He walked in and punched Ricky Barry in the face.

Literally.

The altercation took place with the score tied 2-2 just moments into the game and helped set the tone.

The Suns weren’t afraid of the Warriors.

And Ricky Sobers wasn’t intimated by a legend.

Of course, this was the old guard of NBA basketball so after the melee cleared everybody just kept on playing… bloody noses and all.

The Suns went on to win the game 94-86 and eliminate the defending champions, moving on to play the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

A great recap of the game six and seven occurrences can be found in the May 24, 1976 edition of Sports Illustrated entitled, “Have the Suns Risen in the West.”

Sobers didn’t have quite as much impact in the Finals against the Celtics.

Although he did pump in a team high 25 points in the Suns 128-126 game five loss, he was mostly quiet during the series.

I vaguely remember hearing about some guy named Gar Heard hitting a pretty big shot at some point in that series.

The Suns lost to the Celtic in six games and didn’t return to the Finals again until 1993.

The Suns are now 25 years and counting since that appearance.

Sobers would end up only playing one more year for the Suns. He improved his averages to 13.6 points and 3.0 assists per game in 79 appearances, but his career really took off the next year after a trade to the Indiana Pacers.

Sobers was traded to the Pacers for 26 year old Don Buse, who was coming off back-to-back All-Star seasons. Although that seems like a pretty solid move, trading for an All-Star in his prime, Buse would only average about 8 points and 4.5 assists per game for the Suns in three seasons before moving on.

Sobers, meanwhile, averaged 18.2 points and 7.4 assists per game the next year for Indiana.

Sobers only played two years for the Pacers though, before bouncing around to the Chicago Bulls, Washington Bullets and Seattle SuperSonics. He carved out respectable career averages of 13.3 points and 4.3 assists per game while shooting 45.9% from the field and 84.3% from the line.

A pretty solid, but not spectacular, career.

Interestingly enough, Sobers was involved in another trade to the Suns to start his NBA career.

Sobers was traded by the Buffalo Braves (as a future 1975 1st round draft pick) to the Suns for a 1976 1st round draft pick that became hall of famer Adrian Dantley.

Despite Sobers’ 1976 playoff heroics I’m still gonna put that trade in the loss column.

Still, if the Suns can take someone at #16 this year and he ends up having a huge impact in a Western Conference Finals victory in 2019… I’d take that.

I would also just suggest that maybe the Suns shouldn’t give up on him so soon.