Feb 25, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) and Chicago Bulls guard Cameron Payne (22) battle of the ball during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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Having traded away Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Oklahoma City Thunder last week, it is time to meet the three newest members of the Chicago Bulls.
Feb 1, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Cameron Payne (22) shoots the ball over Chicago Bulls forward Cristiano Felicio (6) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
A Tennessee native, 22-year-old Cameron Payne played two years at Murray State University. As a freshman, he averaged 16.8 points, 5.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals a game, earning both first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors and OVC Freshman of the Year.
He then went onto win OVC Player of the Year as a sophomore after averaging 20.2 points, 6.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per contest.
Payne then decided it was time to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft and was selected No. 14 overall by the Thunder in 2015.
Unfortunately, since then, his performance has been lackluster.
Having spent some time in the D-League with the Thunder’s affiliate team, the Oklahoma City Blue, Payne saw time in only 52 games last season and averaged just 5.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists a matchup.
He did close out the year on a high note though, totaling 17 points, three rebounds, seven assists and a steal against the San Antonio Spurs.
Payne had to undergo foot surgery for a fractured firth metatarsal the following summer, an injury that happened again at the start of 2016-17. He rejoined the team in January, leading him to compete in just 20 more games with the Thunder before being traded to Chicago.
During that time he averaged 5.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest, a slight improvement from his rookie year.
He also continued to show flashes of potential, recording 15 points, a rebound, two assists and a steal against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 9.
Therefore, it is way too early to write off the young buck just yet.
With the right coaching and teammates, in the proper system, Payne can certainly flourish into a talented point guard. The question is whether or not the Bulls are it for him.
Feb 1, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) drives to the basket in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Anthony Morrow (2) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
A veteran, 31-year-old Anthony Morrow has been in the league since the Golden State Warriors signed him in the summer of 2008. After going undrafted that year, Morrow played for the team during Summer League, obviously making a great first impression.
He had a solid rookie year too, averaging 10.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists a game, finishing the season as the first-ever rookie and the first Warrior to lead the league in three-point shooting, hitting 46.7 percent.
The guard remained with Golden State until he was traded to the New Jersey Nets in the summer of 2010, where he continued to blossom into one heck of a three-point shooter. Over his two years there, Morrow averaged 12.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per matchup.
Unfortunately, the North Carolina native then hit a rough patch in his career. Playing for the Atlanta Hawks, the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans between 2012-14, his minutes and numbers began to significantly decline.
It was not until he signed a three-year deal with Oklahoma City in the summer of 2014 that he began to find himself again.
For instance, he totaled 32 points, four rebounds and a steal against the Mavericks in April 2015.
But even still, Morrow only 5.8 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists a contest in 40 games with the Thunder this season.
On the one hand, Morrow’s age may indicate that his best days are behind him. After all, it has been a while since he averaged double-digit scoring. But on the other, three-point shooting does still seem to be his strong suit (a 41.7 percent career shooter).
That’s something Chicago desperately needs help with, especially considering they are now without McDermott.
Jan 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Joffrey Lauvergne (77) is defended by Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) during the first half of the game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps the most mysterious new Bull, 25-year-old Joffrey Lauvergne comes from France.
Having played overseas since 2009, with achievements including winning the French League in 2012, two French Cups in 2011 and 2012 and a Leaders Cup in 2012, he was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies No. 55 overall in 2013.
However, his rights were traded to the Denver Nuggets, a team he did not actually join until 2015.