When I first heard that Adam Sandler would play an NBA scout in a film where Juancho Hernangomez was his co-star … let’s just say I was skeptical.
Not only have Sandler’s films been hit-or-miss in the later stages of his career, but why the heck was a borderline NBA rotation player cast in a big Netflix movie? The whole thing just felt like a laughable project waiting to happen. But, by golly, those suckers made one heck of a movie!
Even with my suspicion, the NBA obsessor in me had to sit down ASAP to give it a watch. I can’t believe how fast it surpassed all my expectations, and a big reason why was Hernangomez’s legitimately impressive acting performance. The seemingly endless NBA cameos were also impossible not to love, and the story itself kept moving in a way that made the two-hour film feel like a quick watch. Was it a bit silly and sensationalized? Absolutely! But every sports movie needs some of that, right?
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Anthony Edwards’ Oscar-worthy performance (not really, but also kinda really).
Anthony Edwards is great in #HustleNetflix
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 8, 2022
I initially doubted whether Edwards was worthy of a No. 1-overall selection, but he’s completely proven me wrong. His on-court skill has been on full display over his first two seasons in the league, and his ability to help guide Minnesota back to the playoffs this season should be commended. And, while that all matters way more than 10 minutes in a movie, there is also a level of off-the-court star power that every great player should have. Edwards undoubtedly has it.
• The only problem with Hustle is that it doesn’t feature a Bulls cameo, which had me thinking: Which current Bull would be the best actor? Zach LaVine might have the most experience thanks to all his recent ads (#ThanksKlutch), but I’m not going to pretend his performance in any commercial knocks my socks off. Ayo Dosunmu has done a solid job alongside Howard Akin. Solid enough for the big screen, though? Lonzo Ball could be a darkhorse candidate. As emotionless as he seems at times, he was born to be under the spotlight. But, the more I sat and thought about this, the more I kept coming back to one video.
• Remember that sketch of Drake and Will Ferrell teaching players handshakes? If not, I got it right here, and the most clutch player in basketball kills this performance:
• DeMar DeRozan might not say much, but he doesn’t need to. Every great actor can portray emotion with a mere look, and DeRozan has that down pat.
• NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson took a minute to remind us of Arturas Karnisovas’ words at his end-of-year press conference. The front office leader underscored the notion that giving this current core time to grow would help dictate how this offseason is handled. The fact Johnson is writing this now amid plenty of Bulls rumors feels a bit noteworthy. I actually gave some more thoughts on the topic of continuity in Thursday’s bullets, so feel free to check that out here.
The Bulls are in the NBA rumor mill. Artūras Karnišovas has not once but twice talked about keeping the team's core intact.
What to believe?
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) June 10, 2022
• Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry recently published a jam-packed mailbag, and I encourage you to go give it a read. There was one answer he gave that I wanted to discuss a bit further, and it’s in relation to the ongoing Nikola Vucevic chatter. Take a look:
But as clunky of a fit as he was at times — and as inconsistent as he played in stretches this season — Vucevic still has supporters in high places in Chicago. The Bulls like Vooch. His professionalism and versatility. His experience and consistency. Even after his play slipped this season, Karnisovas praised Vucevic’s durability. In a bumpy season, Vucevic appeared in 73 contests, ranking third on the Bulls.
Chicago could move Vooch this summer. But the return will have to be an undeniable upgrade for the Bulls.
• All things considered, this kind of echoes the sentiment I’ve preached since the end of the season. While the big man struggled to find his footing this year, I don’t think that means the organization is ready to immediately replace him. The fact of the matter is they invested a lot of assets into him, and they still built this existing roster with his skillset in mind.
• Vucevic also continues to be one of the best big men in the East. One down season isn’t going to change that. He’s a double-double machine who is also one of the best screeners in the league. So we can debate all we want about his future trajectory, but few have the versatility and statistical resume that he possesses. With that in mind, I still think it’s more than likely he has a bounceback campaign next season. Does that mean he’ll play at an All-Star level again? Not necessarily, but he doesn’t need to reach that mark to be the guy this team needs. At the end of the day, I agree with Mayberry, the Bulls aren’t going to dump him unless it leads to an obvious upgrade at the position (and that will not be easy to find).
• Alex Caruso gushed about playing with the Bulls during a recent interview on The Pat McAfee Show, and we talked a lot more about that here. Another good snippet to checkout, though, is when the defensive stopper dives a bit deeper into his NBA journey. He tells McAfee that the only time he truly believed he could make the big leagues is when the pen was in his hand:
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) June 9, 2022
• Caruso also discussed his trash-talking antics. The guard said he used to be a menace back in high school, but all that chatter quickly came to a quick end when he reached the pros. Smart choice.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) June 9, 2022
• This SUCKS.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) June 9, 2022
• This doesn’t suck! What a cool moment for the Sky!
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 8, 2022
• Shaq on the Bulls would have been so unfair David Stern would have shut down the league.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) June 10, 2022
• Uh oh.
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) June 9, 2022