Postseason Meeting: Paul Zipser

By Sam Smith

He was the 48th pick in last June’s draft, the next to last guy on the list of NBA players before only Ivica Zubac. He likely wasn’t considered much more significantly. Except perhaps to Bulls management and himself.

“If you look, those (draft) numbers don’t show anything,” Zipser said after his Saturday post season meeting with management. “I was saying that before the draft. It doesn’t matter which pick you are. It’s just about getting in the right situation. A lot of guys thought I wouldn’t do that good this year, my first season as a rookie. It’s just about looking at the future, looking at the summer. I have so much stuff I can get better at. So yeah, I can’t wait to practice again. I think I had a good start, like nobody expected a lot. Everybody was talking before, like this guy is trying to get a contract, this guy tries to get on the team. I was thinking about getting minutes on the court. I think I had the right mindset and I kept working until I get there.”

Perhaps he’s not all the way there, but the 6-8 forward was something of a revelation and even getting 18 starts in the regular season. He averaged 5.5 points and then 7.3 per game in the playoffs, including a vital 16 points in the Game 2 victory in Boston.

Zipser said he considers himself a part of the Bulls rotation moving forward as he embarks on a summer with perhaps the Bulls summer league or even playing with the German National team again. He opened some eyes and now has his eye on bigger things ahead with the Bulls.

“I love the city, I love the club,” Zipser said. “I just like it here, love the playing style, what we can do, how we play together. We’ll see what the next season is looking like. Before, I thought it’s going to be weird, a little harder for me. But I think I did pretty good in the first few games and then keep adjusting to it.

“First of all, ball handing,” said Zipser about his improvement plans. “When you feel better with the ball, everything is better. I will watch a lot of film. Defense, I will watch a few players from the NBA, how they defend some stuff, a lot of guys like Kawhi (Leonard), how he defends certain players, how he sees their strengths and tries to take it away. I just saw the whole season, what I could do better in the next few years. How I can get to my shots, how I can get shots for my teammates. Now I know the game better here in the NBA. So I just know how I can practice better.”

Zipser said the national team is asking him to participate again, but he’s trying to determine what will serve him best for next season with the Bulls. Zipser also said his learning was accelerated playing with Rajon Rondo.

“I learned a lot from Rondo,” Zipser said. “On the court, off the court, especially. How he behaved, especially in the playoffs. The talking, the communication, how important the communication is. I’m coming from a culture where the coach is doing everything, the talking and the players just follow. Here it’s different. The coach tells you a lot of stuff and, of course, he’s the coach. But the players have to communicate with each other more. I don’t know why it’s so different here. So it’s very important to talk with each other more. That’s what I learned from Rondo. He helped me on the court too. He had me so many open shots I wouldn’t have gotten without him.”

And like Rondo, Zipser is as serious as a bucket of cold water. Asked about making friends here in the U.S, Zipser said evenly, “I wasn’t looking for friends until now here. I have enough friends. I’m here to work and get better basketball wise.”

He is zipping right up that NBA ladder.

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