Remember me? The Bulls’ Chandler Hutchison is hoping to be in the mix
It has been a rough first two seasons for Hutchison since he was selected 22nd overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. Injuries and a lack of playing time have made him forgettable at times. Now healthy and with a new coach, he’s looking to change that.
It has been easy to forget that Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison was a first-round draft pick.
He was selected 22nd overall in the 2018 NBA draft. Google it.
At times, it has been easy to forget that Hutchison is even on the roster.
He is. He played in only 72 games in his first two seasons but is still on the depth chart in his third season.
Hutchison’s goal this season is to make everyone remember him. And if the preseason is any indication of what’s to come, he might be on his way to accomplishing that.
‘‘I think he has done — silently — a really, really good job,’’ coach Billy Donovan said of Hutchison’s preseason. ‘‘What I mean by ‘silently’ is maybe he hasn’t scored a lot of points.
‘‘One of the things I tried to talk to him about when we started practicing is he’s very athletic and dynamic when he drives. He’s had a couple of dunks that have been incredibly impressive. He has generated some really good shots for us.’’
And for himself.
Hutchison entered the Bulls’ preseason finale Friday against the Thunder in Oklahoma City averaging just more than eight points in exhibition play and ended the preseason with an 11-point, eight-rebound, four-steal effort in the Bulls’ come-from-behind 105-103 victory.
Then there were his two monstrous dunks Wednesday against the Thunder, with Hutchison insisting that finally being healthy is allowing him to show off his true athletic ability.
‘‘Really, it’s all just taking what the game has given me,’’ Hutchison said Friday. ‘‘That has been a focus of mine. For these past three games, I haven’t really had a ton of opportunities to put it up from the perimeter. That’s just how my opportunities have come. But I know when I’ve got a lane and that’s an opportunity for me to do that, I attack the rim with force.
‘‘I think that’s something that separates me from a lot of guys is just being able to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim or get to the foul line. That’s just something I know I’ve been able to thrive doing. So every opportunity I get to be aggressive, I attack the rim and hopefully get a couple of strong finishes.’’
So where does Hutchison fit once the games really matter next week? Rookie Patrick Williams has been starting at small forward, then Donovan has been using Otto Porter Jr. and Hutchison interchangeably off the bench for Williams and power forward Lauri Markkanen.
The logjam will come when Thad Young (infection in lower left leg) returns. At that point, it might be tough for Hutchison to stay in the rotation. Just don’t tell him that.
‘‘Right now, my body feels tremendous,’’ Hutchison said. ‘‘And that’s good for me, just being able to be healthy and running out there and being myself.’’
The Bulls were down six players on their two-game trip, with the main ones being Young, swingman Denzel Valentine (hamstring) and guard Tomas Satoransky (excused absence). Guard Garrett Temple is still in the COVID-19 protocol and has yet to practice with his new team.
Where does that leave the depth for the regular-season opener Wednesday against the Hawks?
‘‘I haven’t dived into that too much,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘[We] have a day off [Saturday], get back to practice and have three days. I’m hopeful those guys will be back, but I’m not 100 percent sure.’’