Moore Has 55 Reasons to Stay Hungry
E’Twaun Moore still wears jersey No. 55. Still needs reminding that he doesn’t have it made, even after game-winning heroics.
Moore scored a career-high 19 points and hit the game-winning three-pointer in Chicago’s two-point victory over Oklahoma City on Thursday, but that seemed a distant memory by the time he arrived at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to play the Pacers on Friday.
The Purdue graduate is in his fourth NBA season, but hasn’t forgotten the sick feeling he had on the NBA’s draft night in 2011, when he was the 55th overall selection. He’s worn that number ever since to remind him not to take anything for granted – even after games such as the one he had on Thursday, when he hit 9-of-10 shots on TNT and received, by his count, about 120 text messages afterward.
“Do you feel established in the league now?” he was asked before Friday’s game.
“Nah, not yet,” he said. “I just try to be productive. Just let people know anytime I come out on the court I’m going to try to make winning plays.”
Moore lives in the present tense. He won a state championship at The Fieldhouse in 2007, when he led East Chicago Central to the 4A title over Eric Gordon’s North Central, and was an all-Big Ten selection at Purdue, but he’s clearly not trying to live off past glories. He couldn’t even remember if he had used the same locker room in high school as the Bulls were using on Friday.
What he knows for sure is that he’s adapted well to the versatile role the Bulls are asking him to play. He played mostly point guard his first three seasons, but has been mostly an off-guard in Chicago.
“Where do you feel most comfortable?”
“Power forward,” he said, smiling.
“It doesn’t matter,” he added. “Any position, one or two, it doesn’t matter.”
It’s rare for someone to play off-guard in college and make a successful transition to point guard in the NBA, but Moore has done it fairly well. His coach at Purdue, Matt Painter, said the only time he’s ever promised a recruit anything was when he assured Moore he would be allowed to handle the ball in the Boilermakers’ offense. Moore didn’t do it as often as he would have liked, but understood the situation.
“That was best for our team at the time and it helped us win,” he said. “So it worked out.”
Moore is playing in the first of a two-year contract with the Bulls. They have an option on next season, but it’s hard to imagine they won’t exercise it if coach Tom Thibodeau has a say in the matter.
“He has the characteristics that will allow him to get better,” Thibodeau said, referring to Moore’s work ethic and IQ. “Those kind of guys always improve. I like the fact he can play two positions as well. He knows exactly what you’re trying to do. He’s not afraid. He can make big shots for you. Coach Painter did a great job with him. He’s a great pro.”