Player breakdowns: Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison needs to show up
Was Hutchison overvalued by the old regime coming out of Boise State? Maybe. None of that matters, however, if the forward can’t stay healthy and on the court. The ability that matters most in the NBA is availability, and that’s where Hutchison falls short.
Few players symbolize the old Bulls regime better than Chandler Hutchison.
As a matter of fact, the onetime Boise State standout could be the poster boy for the final days of the Gar Forman era, considering everything surrounding his draft selection had Forman’s fingerprints on it.
This was Forman’s baby all the way —from the underhanded business of Hutchison shutting down his draft workouts early because the Bulls promised they would take him in the first round and didn’t want other teams to get a better look to the idea that Forman was somehow outsmarting the system, much like he thought he was at first when he rushed to give Cristiano Felicio a four-year, $32 million extension after the Brazilian’s short spell at the NBA level.
Forman seemed to think he was somehow smarter than the average bear.
That’s not to say Hutchison is a bust as the No. 22 overall pick from the 2018 draft. The jury is still out on that. The problem was the Bulls once again fell in love with a prospect who had glaring weaknesses.
Another issue that has plagued Hutchison is his seemingly low pain tolerance.
Through his first two seasons, he has played in only 72 games and was sidelined the rest of the time with assorted injuries: a bad foot here, a hamstring issue there and the latest, a shoulder problem that required season-ending surgery.
When the 6-7 forward did play, there were signs that he could become a defensive-minded wing someday, but the outside-shooting issues that concerned scouts from his college days persisted.
Devonte’ Graham and Landry Shamet were still on the board after Hutchison was taken, as were point guards Jalen Brunson and Aaron Holiday.
And while Forman is gone — a casualty of the Arturas Karnisovas takeover — Hutchison remains. So what does the future hold?
For coach Jim Boylen, Hutchison seemed destined to become the starter at small forward next season, with Otto Porter Jr. coming off the bench. But any team that’s rolling out Hutchison to go up against Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Khris Middleton and DeMar DeRozan is in for a lot of trouble.
That’s why the Bulls were knee-deep in scouting Heat small forward Derrick Jones Jr. before the front-office restructuring became official.
The small forward spot is just too valuable to hand to a guy from an unproven college program who can’t be relied on to be available from game to game. Hutchison is an end-of-the-bench fixture on a good team and would have to experience a massive turnaround in his work ethic and toughness to start proving otherwise.
The Bulls have time to let him develop, but if this was the player whom Gar Forman went so far out of his way to hide leading up to the 2018 draft, it’s clear that the former GM was reaching again.
Because of Hutchison’s shoulder surgery and the uncertainty surrounding player access during the summer because of the coronavirus, it’s tough to see how much better he can get this offseason. The Bulls have no choice but to hope.
Hutchison will continue battling to stay healthy and no longer will be a Bull by the 2021-22 season.