Harrison getting chance to shine in depleted Chicago Bulls lineup
The home stretch for the Chicago Bulls hasn't been productive, but it has churned out some interesting individual stories.
Expect to see more of point guard Walt Lemon Jr. when the Bulls visit New York on Monday. Coach Jim Boylen said the Chicago native worked with the first team in Sunday's practice, so he likely will start against the Knicks.
Lemon had 19 points and 6 assists in his Bulls debut Saturday.
The Bulls added another Windy City Bulls player, signing 6-foot-8 forward JaKarr Sampson to a 10-day contract. The team was granted a hardship waiver due to all the injuries, allowing them to add an extra player. Sampson spent training camp with the Bulls and was Windy City's second-leading scorer, behind Lemon.
A player who probably has done the most to secure a future with the Bulls is guard Shaq Harrison. All season long, Harrison has been an impressive defender. He leads the NBA in steals per minute played, ahead of guys such as Marcus Smart, Paul George, Jimmy Butler and James Harden.
The knock on Harrison is obvious -- his offense needs work. He's shooting 25 percent from 3-point range this season. And while he has the speed to get to the hoop, he has a tendency to throw up some crazy, out of control shots at times.
"From my point of view, there's been a lot of people trying to change (his shot)," Harrison said Sunday at the Advocate Center. "I think I need to find something to stick with. It's always been a month here with somebody, a month here with somebody, a month here with someone else.
"So it's never been any consistency. I think we need to find something and stick to it and go from there."
That's the plan for the Bulls this summer. Surely, though, this won't be the first time a coaching staff has set out to improve Harrison's scoring.
"In high school, I really never did basketball workouts," Harrison said. "I just kind of played basketball games because I had other stuff like football and track, so I had a lot of other things going on in my spare time. So I didn't have the opportunity to really just get in and focus on one sport."
Harrison grew up in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. He went to Tulsa and started every game for four years. As a sophomore, he helped Tulsa go to the NCAA Tournament and lost to Zach LaVine's UCLA squad in the first round. Harrison played 30 minutes and didn't score in that game.
But his scoring average did increase every year. He averaged 15.1 points as a senior and scored 23 points in his second NCAA appearance, a play-in loss to Michigan.
In the last six games, when Harrison's playing time grew with the injuries, he has averaged 13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals.
"My plan is after the season, take a couple weeks off and get right back to it," Harrison said. "Get up consistent shots each and every day, and get up the right shots."
Boylen previewed the Bulls' summer plan Sunday before the team left for New York.
"He'll be in our gym all summer," Boylen said. "A lot of our guys we expect to be around. We talked about him, we talked about Walt. Those guys will be here and they'll be with us.
"Everybody's got things they work on, from the top guy to the bottom guy, but it's going to be a big development summer for a lot of guys, as well as a team-building summer."
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Bulls game dayBulls vs. New York Knicks, 6:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden
TV: NBCSCH; Radio: WIND 560-AM
Outlook: The Bulls haven't seen the Knicks since Nov. 5, when they won 116-115 in double overtime at MSG behind 41 points from Zach LaVine. … New York has changed most of its roster since then. The top scorer is currently PG Emmanuel Mudiay at 14.8 ppg. PG Dennis Smith Jr. (14.1 ppg) has returned after missing six games with a back injury. Rookies Kevin Knox (12.6) and Mitchell Robinson (2.5 blocks) are getting extended playing time late in the season. … The Knicks own the league's worst record at 14-62.
Next: Washington Wizards, 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Capital One Center
-- Mike McGraw