Donovan has no regrets about Markkanen's limited success with Bulls
Plenty of NBA players take several years and multiple teams to find a level of success, especially in this era of one-and-done college players dominating the draft.
Billy Donovan spent one year in 2020-21 coaching Lauri Markkanen, who has blossomed with Utah in his sixth NBA season. Donovan was asked before the game if he ever looks back and wishes he could have coaxed a better performance out of a player.
"No, because everybody's got their own growth period," Donovan said. "I'm sure there's things Lauri probably looks at and figures, 'If I would have known back then what I know now ...' Everybody grows differently, everybody goes through it differently."
Donovan pointed out there are players like Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum or Donovan Mitchell, who become impact players right away. Markkanen was 20 when he first joined the rebuilding Bulls in 2017 after one year at Arizona.
"I appreciated my time with him," Donovan said. "I liked him a lot as a team guy, I liked being around him quite a bit. He was kind of on his own path of growth, but I think one thing that's a little bit unfair to these guys in my opinion is if you're going to say a guy's prime is between the ages of 25 or 26 and 30, let's just say, and you're now evaluating a guy at 21 years old and you're not giving him a grace period of four years to get into his prime.
"Part of that period of growth is them going through a lot of difficulties and challenges to get where they are today. I think there's a lot of players that fall under that umbrella of where Lauri's at. They've just gotten to a place where they've played in a lot of games, they've been in a lot of situations and I think more than anything else, guys have a tendency to look inward of how they can be better."
Bradley in protocols:
Backup center Tony Bradley became the first Bulls player this season to be declared out due to health and safety protocols, though it's happened several times around the league.
Bradley missed the previous two games due to personal reasons and coach Billy Donovan said after Bradley returned to the team and reported he wasn't feeling well, the Bulls medical staff tested him for COVID out of an abundance of caution. Donovan said Bradley reported very mild symptoms.
"We're just not testing anymore, unless somebody feels like they're really, really sick," Donovan said before Saturday's game. "For somebody who just feels like, 'I have a headache and a runny nose, I'm not going to say anything, because I feel fine,' there's nothing you can do about that."
LaVine joins shortlist:
Zach LaVine joined some exclusive company by knocking down 11 3-point baskets Friday in Philadelphia. He's now one of six players in NBA history to have at least three games of 10 or more 3-pointers.
Steph Curry leads the way by a large margin with 22 games of 10 or more, teammate Klay Thompson has seven, Damian Lillard has four, while James Harden and J.R. Smith join LaVine with three each.