Chicago Bulls: 3 Underrated X-factors to Watch in Showdown with Bucks

Coby White (Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports)
Coby White (Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Chicago Bulls
Derrick Jones Jr. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

2. Derrick Jones Jr

Derrick Jones Jr. is an athletic defender with ample playoff experience. He’s an athletic slasher who is somehow an elite rebounder as a guard and is a shot blocker. His capabilities on the wings are something that the Bulls needed during their late-season slip, but he was on the bench.

A head-scratcher to say the least.

In their series against the Bucks, Jone Jr. being inserted back into the team’s rotation can change the series.

Chicago’s perimeter defense has disappeared after the All-Star break. Opposing teams are able to get paint touches at will and the Bulls are not good at recovering in scrambles. Chicago is 17th in the league in 3-point defense and 17th in interior defense. Jones Jr. is a 6-foot-6 player who can move his feet.  As the game slows down, being able to defend in the halfcourt set will be the difference in the first round.

Jones Jr. has the length and lateral quickness to defend Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and even Giannis Antetokounmpo for stretches. While the key to stopping the Bucks is limiting the impact of Antetokounmpo, shutting down the other two stars helps too.

His length will give Holiday, an already unexplosive guard, problems. His athleticism gives him the ability to bother Middleton’s shot despite the height difference. He is also able to help the Bulls recover down low in scrambles since he is a shot-blocking guard.

Offensively, Jones Jr. isn’t going to be prime Ginobili off the bench. He averages five points on the season. In the final seven games in the month of March, Jones Jr. totaled six minutes. He’s been dealing with some knee issues, which may have impacted that, but still…. a head-scratcher on Donovan’s part.

If Jones Jr. isn’t in the rotation, the Bulls’ playoff run could end up being a rerun of their regular season series against Milwaukee… not ideal.