Forget about Nikola Vucevic for a second (Aw, do we have to?). With his big-time acquisition at Thursday’s trade deadline, it’s easy to forget the Bulls added several other players who could have an immediate impact on the team. In fact, the Bulls swapped out a total of five players, saying goodbye to Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter, Daniel Gafford, Chandler Hutchison, and Luke Kornet.
We briefly talked about each of those five players departures earlier, so feel free to check that out here. Now, however, it’s time to focus on the new guys, some of which I believe Bulls fans should be very hyped about.
Previous Team: Celtics
Season stats: MPG 24.5, 9.5 ppg (55.2 FG%, 34.7 3PT%), 5.2 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.0 blk
Daniel Theis may have been the front office’s most savvy pick-up of the deadline. The 28-year-old big man played overseas before joining the Boston Celtics four seasons ago. He really burst onto the scene, however, during the 2019-20 season when he started every game but one as he helped the Celtics battle their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Theis checks in at only six-foot-eight, but he has a knack for playing far bigger than his size suggests. Last season, for instance, he averaged practically 2.0 blocks per 36 minutes, and he finished with a 104 defensive rating, which ranked 6th among centers who appeared in 60 or more games. With that being the case, it’s no surprise the Celtics finished with the league’s 4th-ranked defense. Theis may be struggling this season to find the same success (so are the Celtics as a whole), but he has still started 37 of 42 games for Boston and has posted some impressive all-around performances.
Theis also gives Chicago the option to slide him into the four spot. I don’t expect to see them take this approach too often with Young and Markkanen on the roster, but he has the jump shot and athleticism to play the position adequately. All in all, he makes great sense as Nikola Vucevic’s backup option, filling in when the defensive matchup gets exhausting while also not completely sacrificing Billy Donovan’s ability to have his big man space the floor on the offensive end.
How good was this pick-up?
“Theis immediately becomes one of if not the best backup center in the league, turning it into a position of real strength for the Bulls,” Seth Partnow wrote over at The Athletic.
Troy Brown Jr.
Previous Team: Wizards
Season stats: MPG 13.7, 4.3 ppg (37.2 FG%, 30.4 3PT%), 2.9 reb
Don’t sleep on this man, got it?
Theis may be the new player to have the second-greatest immediate impact, but Brown has some legitimately intriguing long-term upside. He came into the league as one of the youngest players in the draft in 2018, and he put together a breakout season of sorts one year ago. In 2019-20, he averaged 10.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals in 69 games played. He flashed the kind of all-around play that made him an intriguing draft pick in the first place, and it looked like the Wizards might have themselves a building block. Then … they drafted Deni Avdija with the 9th pick in the 2020 draft.
There might be a world where both could co-exist, but they do carry very similar skillsets. Both are do-everything players that offer great size at the wing. But there is no questioning that Avdija’s ceiling is just higher, so it wasn’t that shocking to see Brown struggle to stay in the picture. With that said, he still didn’t help himself this season with a poor start on the offensive end. He has shot a disappointing 37.1 percent from the field and only 30.0 percent from downtown.
Regardless of his recent woes, I think the Bulls taking a flier on him is pretty genius. He should be able to help immediately with perimeter defense, and Chicago’s motion offense could really help him get back in a groove.
Previous Team: Magic
Season stats: MPG 21.6, 5.5 ppg (40.4 FG%, 22.6 3PT%), 5.4 reb, 1.7 ast, 1.0 stl
Otto Porter’s cheaper replacement. Aminu has faced injury trouble recently and missed almost the entirety of the 2019-20 season with a torn meniscus. We don’t entirely know what to expect from him, as he’s only played 17 games back from injury, but he is yet another versatile veteran forward for Billy Donovan to mess with. He doesn’t shoot the 3-ball nearly as well as someone like Porter, but Aminu can offer a somewhat similar reliance on the defensive end. We’ll have to wait and see exactly what kind of role Aminu can carve out for himself.
Previous Team: Celtics
Season stats: MPG 13.8, 4.2 ppg (54.9 FG%, 31.8 3PT%), 2.1 reb
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know much about Green. He played overseas before joining the Celtics two seasons ago, and he hasn’t really found a consistent role in their rotation. The guy seems like a hell of a hard worker, though.