Skip to content
K.C. Johnson on the Bulls
Since it looks like the Bulls are headed to their sixth straight lottery, is there anyone to get excited about in the draft like there was last year? --Jeff Reece, Jacksonville, Fla.
Just the Bulls' luck. It's considered by most to be a thin draft this season. Some predict that two of the first three picks will be high school players, and the Bulls aren't going that route again should they finish that high in the lottery. Even UConn's Emeka Okafor, as good as he is, projects out as another young, raw power forward, a concept with which the Bulls are far too familiar. I would think that if the Bulls finish high in the draft lottery, John Paxson will certainly entertain any and all offers for the pick, coupled in various ways with current players.
Is it me, or does the NBA lack toughness in the paint? I might be bias because I'm old-school, but I remember "The Bad Boys" of Detroit and the Knicks of the 90s when they used to slam anyone who would try to dunk on them. What happened? --Carlo, Chicago
Players started coming into the league at a younger age. You should see pregame meetings at the jump ball circle: It's like a makeout festival. In this age of young players and technology, everyone seems to be friends. Opponents two-way page each other all the time, having played in All-Star camps together in college or in AAU ball. It is, indeed, a different era.
K.C., I know you get a lot of questions on this but I am infuriated by how Eddy Curry has responded to the challenge to improve his conditioning by coach Skiles. Does he truly believe that he is working hard enough to be a solid player in this league? Why can't anyone get through to him? --Lee Bass, St Louis Mo.
Because the only person who can get through to Eddy is Eddy himself. Curry is a good person. He is an extremely nice guy with a great sense of humor. But Skiles and Paxson can tell Curry one million times that he has to get in better shape and until Curry completely believes it, it won't happen. I think, eventually, the light will go on for Curry. He was raised well and wants to succeed and I think this summer, he will learn the meaning of hard work. If you're infuriated with his attitude, think how Bulls management feels.
K.C., how is Kirk Hinrich handling the losing? He has been a winner his whole life, here in Sioux City as well as at Kansas. Do you see him getting frustrated with the poor play of his teammates and lack of effort he gets from some of them on a nightly basis? --Jeremy Foster, Sioux City, Iowa
I don't see that aspect, although it may be happening privately. Like anyone else associated with the team, Kirk is frustrated by all the losing. The guy is a complete competitor. But I've covered enough losing basketball to see this happen to many other successful college players. Elton Brand comes to mind most prominently. The losing affects them badly at first and then, midway through the first season, they begin to understand it as part of the NBA life. That's not to say that Kirk accepts losing or likes it. It's just all he knows on this level to this point. That's the culture that the Bulls are trying to change.
Do you think Scott Skiles' offense puts Eddy Curry in the best position to succeed? When he gets good position on the block, he doesn't get the ball. He's still the best offensive player the Bulls have because he is the only player on the team that commands a double team. I think other coaches love to watch Jamal jack up jumpers and I think the Bulls would have a better and more efficient offense if Curry, and not Crawford, was getting 20 shots. What do you think? --Richard Lipford, Memphis, Tenn.
I think Curry isn't playing enough minutes right now to assess this fairly. I do think that Cartwright worked the ball inside-out more than Skiles. But the fact of the matter is that Curry hasn't responded well to increased defensive attention this season, struggling to beat double teams with either a move or a pass. As a result, he has had a lot of turnovers. Thus, he has been getting fewer touches, as well as fewer minutes. So more scoring and shots have come from the perimeter.
I don't know why Jamal Crawford doesn't go to the basket. Is it because of the strategy Scott Skiles is using that limits Jamal? Or does Jamal not have a strong body and enough confidence to go to the hoop? --Marc Hall, Chicago
I think more the latter. Jamal has shown an increased ability of penetrating, but he still dislikes finishing strong at the rim and seems to shy away from contact. He shoots more floaters than instigating contact like an Allen Iverson or a Stephon Marbury. I think part of this comes from Crawford's background. Having played so little organized basketball, he's used to playing pick-up ball, where fouls aren't called much and when they are, they don't result in free throws. Thus, he has learned to squeeze off circus shots, which he has the talent and ability to make. But they won't get him to the line often.
Hey, K.C., how accurate are NBA players' heights? I know that Michael Jordan was always listed as 6-foot-6, but I also remember a Chicago reporter saying that he was 6-foot-4 and that MJ wasn't any taller than he was. Does every team cheat by an inch or two, and if they all do it, what's the point? --Brad Clark, Madison, Wis.
This Chicago reporter is 6-foot-4 as well and Jordan certainly is two inches taller than I am. Charles Barkley on the other hand........Most teams pad heights. I'm not sure why. What the Bulls need to pad is their victory total.
I heard on TV recently that Eddy Curry had a strong finish last season because the opposing teams didn't play as hard because they were either in the playoffs already or had no chance to make the playoffs. Do you think this is true? After all, Curry was dominant at the end of last season. --Joe Crain, Orlando, Fla.
Scott Skiles has addressed this dynamic directly, saying that Curry's late-season dominance came in "meaningless games." That may be true, but it's not like the other teams were letting Curry score. Did his strong finish come at a time when the Bulls were out of it? Certainly. But it still happened. And the Bulls need to see more of that.
Since the trade with Toronto, the Bulls have gone from the worst (29th in points allowed at over 99 per game) to 18th at 94.8 points allowed. Although I have not checked, I'm sure rebounding is better too, despite the absent of Chandler who was rebounding well before his injury. Do you think this defensive effort is enough to win games down the stretch or does it just make the games respectable? --David Rogers, Hinsdale, Ill.
That's an easy one. It's the latter. The Bulls no longer get blown out of games. But it's not like they are winning at a much higher rate since these defensive and rebounding improvements have occurred. Those improvements have as much to do with personnel as coaching, although Skiles is known for preaching these tenants. But I'd give more credit to Antonio Davis and Jerome Williams, and I think Skiles would too.
Hey K.C., I am a Chicago transplant living in New Hampshire. Right now, the biggest news here is the Democratic Presidential Primary. I am wondering if the Bulls ever talk about politics. Do they vote? Which candidate would win in a straw poll? Thanks. --Dan Gorenstein, Concord, N.H.
I'm guessing players think the State of the Union address is when the players association negotiates how much meal money they get. I can say that in seven seasons of being around NBA basketball, I've talked politics once and that was with Greg Anthony. That's not to say that other players aren't interested in them. I'm just saying that's my experience. Greg Anthony, by the way, used to chair the Young Republicans Committee at UNLV, so we would argue most of the time.
Thanks for your questions. Talk to you next week, K.C.