It’s better than last year. I’ll give the Bulls that. Unlike last year when the roster was built on an eclectic mix of young talent, the other Lopez brother (Robin Lopez), Rajon Rondo, and Dwyane Wade‘s homecoming. They really weren’t going all in on rebuilding or contending. It’s one of those rare instances were a team is legitimately playing for the 7 or 8 seed. This year the Bulls decided it’s time to rebuild, and this roster looks like it’ll give them a nice shot. This team is getting at least 150 balls in the draft lottery. The tank is on in Chicago. Let’s take a look at how the Bulls have adequately prepared themselves to lose as many games as possible.
The GarPax front office hasn’t always been great; that’s how the Bulls got to a position in which tanking became an option, but they did an excellent job this offseason of blowing this team up and making tough moves by letting Michael Carter-Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Dwyane Wade walk, and of course the biggest move of all, trading the face of the franchise Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. I like Zach Lavine, who appears to be on the verge of superstardom. I don’t like Kris Dunn as much. Dunn showed some flashes of potential in his college career at Providence, but he had a dreadful rookie season. Maybe a change of scenery, a year of experience under his belt, and being the number one point guard will help him reach that potential, but I really didn’t like what I saw from him last year.
On the same night of that trade, the Bulls picked up Lauri Markkanen with the 7th pick in the draft. Markkanen has ways to go before he’s the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki, but I think Markkanen is still a solid pick. He’s a project, which is welcomed in the rebuilding phase. It’ll be a couple years before his defense and rebounding are where it needs to be. I expect him to have his moments, both good and bad, this season, but in the long term, I see him paying off. Outside of the draft, Chicago re-signed two foreign assets in the Spanish, Nikola Mirotic and the Brazilian, Cristiano Felicio. In free agency, the only major acquisition was Justin Holiday, who expects to see some starting time in his second stint with the Bulls. The rest of free agency saw the acquisition of mainly role players, signing Antonio Blakeney and Ryan Arcidiacano to two-way contracts, Diamond Stone to a two-year deal, and picking up Kay Felder off of waivers.
I wholly expect Fred Hoidberg to trot out numerous different starting combinations because there’s not really five different players who separate themselves as the best. It appears that the opening day line up will feature Jerian Grant at the point, Justin Holliday at shooting guard, Paul Zipser at small forward, Bobby Portis at the four, and Robin Lopez down low. Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine will normally run with the ones but will be kept out opening night with an injury. Dunn expects to be back after a couple games, and Lavine is slated to return from a torn ACL in late November. This team is extremely young. Robin Lopez is the only veteran. Justin Holliday and Quincy Pondexter will likely assume veteran roles with 4 and 5 years under their belt respectively. Throughout the preseason Justin Holiday has been the leading scorer and I don’t see that changing until LaVine’s return. A good number of these guys are scoring threats, and with the lack of a star, they’ll all get opportunities for some great scoring outputs. They’ll be a lot of scoring actually because the Bulls are completely devoid of a defensive specialist. They have guys that can play defense, but none who can do it especially well.
The team is young. They’ll be fun to watch at times. They’ll be awful to watch at times. We’ll see the young guys flourish at times, and we’ll see them look like young players at times. As a Bulls fan, I’m rooting for the tank, and watching to see what these prospects can do. The East is bad, so they’ll luck into a few wins, but I think GarPax did a solid job of building possibly the worst team in the league. I see Chicago going 22-60, and getting a top 5 pick.