Bulls Player Outlooks: Paul Zipser

Jan 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Benny the Bull dunks during a timeout in a game between the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Benny the Bull dunks during a timeout in a game between the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls are just days away from the open of training camp and they sure could use it. The 2016-17 version of the Bulls is a bit of a mess so we’ll be bringing you Bulls player outlooks to help familiarize you with everyone from Dwyane Wade to Isaiah Canaan and everyone between.

The core of the Bulls will be comprised of established NBA talent. Jimmy Butler will lead a core group that now includes both Wade and fellow newcomer, Rajon Rondo. Chicago also has another faction of the team – the imports.

Next: Atlantic Division Outlook: Toronto Raptors

Dating back to Kukoc and then moving to the present day with Nikola Mirotic, Cristiano Felicio and Paul Zipser, the Bulls have had a pipeline of talent that his intensified in recent years. Mirotic and Felicio are becoming familiar faces to Chicago fans and will be relied on heavily for the upcoming season. Then there is Zipser, who you can read about from our draft night coverage, here.

Zipser is going to be a first-year NBA player. He was selected with the No. 48 pick in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft. He is a German international that played his professional basketball with FC Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga prior to moving to the Bulls. At 22 years old, Zipser is considerably younger and less polished than fellow Euroleague import Mirotic.

He stands 6’8” and features as a guard/forward combo. He has a lot of room for growth, but is promising. Not many players figure as a combo player with his size. Sure, LeBron James can play guard whenever he wants and Draymond Green can defend all positions, but there is still some really tantalizing intrigue in the size of Zipser. The young German flashed some range, solid defense and the ability to slam it home at the 2016 Adidas Eurocamp:

In the interview, he sounds like a young Dirk Nowitzki. Of course, that’s the obvious and lazy comparison to attempt to draw. Hey, a German. And he can shoot with 3-point range. Must be the next Dirk. Here’s the thing – there is no next Dirk. There is only one Dirk and all the wishing in the world won’t make a late pick in the draft with limited Bundesliga and Eurocup experience the next Hall of Fame power forward that is the centerpiece of an NBA championship-winning squad.

Part of the trepidation is probably due to another Bull, Mirotic. Nikola has played some marvelous basketball. He has also played some deplorable basketball. There has not been a great deal of consistency in his game. Even at that, Mirotic and Zipser – far from Dirk as they are – are not accurate comparison for each other.

Sure, they both have European 3-point range. That’s not the NBA. Fortunately, the expectations and hype will be lower with Zipser than Mirotic. If Nikola hadn’t performed quiet as well in Europe or had the misfortune as being touted the next combo-forward with all-time accuracy and scoring ability, fans might have been ready for his lengthened adjustment to the NBA. Zipser is a project and presumably a few years away from reaching the skill level of an NBA starter.

Or maybe he isn’t. Perhaps, Zipser is the real deal. It isn’t particularly likely. He’s going to struggle against NBA competition. If you watch the video above, you’ll notice that he hit a lot of open looks. Most players should be able to do that. If you think that is repeatable, you can catch the Draft Express video breakdown of his weaknesses, here. No lateral quickness, gets caught in the air, not particularly capable in the half-court offense. Lots of missed open looks from 3-point range when not playing at the Adidas camp.

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European players tend to be projects, not home runs. It would be unfair to put a great deal of pressure on a player like Zipser. He’s still at a young age and joining a Bulls team that is in flux. Likely, he’s the kind of player that Chicago fell in love with because of his strong outside shooting numbers during the 2015-16 season with Bayern. The numbers are terrible in the Euroleague, 27.8 percent from 3-point range in 10 games. However, that only accounts for a total of 18 shots taken. In 10 games in the Eurocup, he should 47.4 percent on 19 attempts and an impressive 43.6 percent on 78 attempts in 40 Bundesliga games.

Also, he did almost all of this coming off the bench. Zipser only started 14 of the 60 games he played in Europe last season and only averaged 18.1 minutes per game. He isn’t likely to match that playing time this season with the Bulls, but that isn’t necessarily bad news for team or player.

Since Zipser was drafted this year and is coming over right away, Chicago will have four years of control for the guard/forward. If he makes it the full four years, his salary in 2019-20 will top out at $1,126,120.

Excitement at the prospects of Zipser are encouraged, but the expectations shouldn’t be too high. If Zipser can work his way into the rotation as a rookie, there is always the potential for a breakout performance. However, the more likely result is that Zipser continues to work on his ball-handling and athleticism while developing into a future option for the Bulls who hold control of the combo wing until 2020.

The Bulls added some depth, while gambling on some high-upside shooting ability from the wing. Don’t expect to see immediate results, but do expect to see Zipser meaningfully contributing in some capacity over the next few years in Chicago.