Satoransky forces Chicago Bulls to take bad with the good

Second in a series

When the Bulls agreed to a deal with point guard Tomas Satoransky last summer, it was worth asking why his former team, the Washington Wizards, accepted two second-round draft picks in a sign-and-trade, rather than keep their own restricted free agent.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks made it clear during a visit to the United Center earlier this season. Asked why his team decided to move on from Satoransky, Brooks answered, "He got a great contract."

In other words, the Wizards liked Satoransky but didn't think he was worth the three-year, $30 million deal he got from the Bulls. In the third year of his contract, only half the $10 million salary is guaranteed.

Now, when assessing Satoransky's first season with the Bulls, it's worth pointing out that he has been one of the team's better players. He and Coby White are the only Bulls to play in all 65 games this season. Satoransky leads the team in assists at 5.4 per game and does well in assist-to-turnover ratio.

That said, is Satoransky a starting point guard on a good NBA team? Well, anyone can improve, but for now the answer appears to be a clear no.

The Czech Republic native isn't a great scorer (9.9 points), doesn't shoot the 3-pointer particularly well (32 percent). He does know how to run a team and has a pretty good point-guard mentality, someone who looks to set up teammates.

The biggest problem is the fit. At 6-feet-7, Satoransky cannot defend point guards. Opponents attack him off the dribble relentlessly, and there's probably not a point guard in the league Satoransky can stay in front of.

With opposing guards getting into the lane with regularity it forced center Wendell Carter Jr. to step up and try to shut off the lane. That's a reason Carter was often in foul trouble early in the season.

That's also why the Bulls functioned better when Kris Dunn or Shaquille Harrison was on the floor. Having someone who could take on the toughest defensive matchup made a big difference, because otherwise Satoransky or Zach LaVine would have to guard that player.

When Satoransky can guard small forwards, he fares much better. But that's not much of a long-term solution - a starting point guard who has to cross-match on defense and isn't an especially good scorer or 3-point shooter.

Essentially, Satoransky appears to be a very good backup but not a great starter - pretty much how the Wizards saw him.

This could all work out. In the last game before the NBA season was suspended, White got his first start and Satoransky came off the bench. The Bulls' rotation might stay that way into next season, with Satoransky getting some more favorable defensive matchups on the second unit.

In the final analysis, Satoransky, 28, isn't likely to develop into an NBA all-star. But he's on a short-term, reasonable contract and can help White transition into the Bulls' point guard of the future. All things considered, this wasn't a bad transaction.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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