Bernstein: Bulls Make Another Good Move

The Bulls re-signed guard Shaquille Harrison on a one-year deal.

Dan Bernstein
July 18, 2019 - 2:19 pm
Categories: 

(670 The Score) ​​​As always seems to be the case, I'm compelled to take care of the perfunctory disclaimers before I compliment something the Bulls have done. We'll need to make a standard package of these at some point that can serve in this capacity hereinafter, saving precious time and effort.

First, I understand that this team exists in the non-contender universe of the NBA, and envisioning a path to joining those ranks takes a remarkable amount of largely unearned faith in the current administration to identify and develop talent and/or acquire viable superstars. Second, everything I've said or written about coach Jim Boylen still stands. I'm hopeful he can get better at this job while the vastly improved support system around him takes on greater responsibility, but his obvious deficiencies remain a countervailing force. Lastly, it is true that minor or incremental improvements may only serve to assure their continued status as an early and definite playoff loser, expending all this energy to build their own glass ceiling.

Yet, the Bulls have just done another thing I like and are stringing some solid moves together. They hired actual big-boy assistant coaches on both sides of the ball, made two draft picks that appear to be something other than head-scratching and re-signed a player Thursday whom I really like.

Shaquille Harrison, a 6-foot-4 guard, cleared waivers and returned to the team on a one-year deal. And while his offensive game is rough to nonexistent, the kid is already an elite NBA defender.

Seriously.

Harrison was nothing less than the NBA's fastest player on defense last season, with an average defensive speed tracked at 4.47 mph that made him tops among those playing at least 20 games. And it showed in the actual results too.

His 3.7 deflections per 36 minutes (minimum 50 games played) placed him in a group tied for fourth in 2018-'19, right alongside Draymond Green, Chris Paul, Marcus Smart and Paul George. Harrison tied for the NBA lead in loose balls recovered per 36 minutes (minimum 50 games) with George and Kent Bazemore. He and George also tied for third in steals per 36 minutes (min 50 games) at 2.2, trailing Thabo Sefolosha, DeAnthony Melton and Smart but ahead of Bazemore, DeAndre Bembry, Jimmy Butler, Larry Nance Jr. and James Harden.

This is an asset and one that ideally can be developed into a replacement-level offensive player deserving of enough minutes to be a valuable disruptor.

Quibble about the bigger picture as much as you like, because it's completely fair to do so. But in the micro, this makes the Bulls better.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.