The Chicago Bulls had one of the busiest offseasons in the NBA. They did lose forward Lauri Markkanen in a trade to the Cavaliers, but they added in a great way. Guards Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso joined Nikola Vucevic and superstar Zach LaVine, and this Bulls team will be going all-in for a playoff spot, first since 2017. They are obviously still not ready to contend, but it is a good start for a squad that had almost no perspective a couple of years back.

Last season, even without this squad they have right now, they had a formidable season with 31 wins. Of course, that is formidable only in the context of the Bulls, a franchise that had an amazing amount of issues in the last couple of seasons. LaVine showed he is a complete stud and Vucevic, although he did not elevate the team to the point of making the playoffs, was still a good addition.

What if, however, the Bulls simply had the ability to bring two players from the 1990s and have them join the squad? They would, with these two, become a truly great team overnight and might even contend. Since adding the greatest Bull of all time, Michael Jordan, would be too easy, the two players that they should add, with Jordan excluded, are Karl Malone and Jamal Mashburn.

Karl Malone – toughness, interior scoring

The Mailman is the absolute perfect fit for this Bulls squad. Obviously, he is one of the best scorers of all time. Malone scored 36,928 points in his career, second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Overall, he played 19 seasons in the league, averaging a truly great 25.0 points per game. If he did not try to go for a ring with the Lakers in his last season, where he scored only 13.2 points per game, that average would be even better. He could score in all matter of ways, but running a pick and roll with John Stockton was his favorite way of getting to the bucket.

Of course, Stockton and Malone were a legendary pairing that cannot be explained with simple words. Even if a fraction of their success was mimicked, it would be true greatness on display. Thus, the addition of Ball, one of the more gifted passers in the league, is the main catalyst for the choice of 90’s superstar in this case. Malone and Ball would be able to run the pick and roll with the Bulls, giving Ball the chance to become an even better distributor.

Additionally, while LaVine is a great player, he is not the first option for a championship team. With Malone taking the scoring load, LaVine would be able to thrive off of Ball’s passes to the wings and from Malone’s kick-outs. He was never much of a passer, as he was a scorer his whole career, but he could pass it off to the wings.

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His leadership and the ability to score the ball would transform this squad. LaVine as a secondary threat, with his scoring ability, sounds like a dream, and with a capable passer in Ball to link it all together, these Bulls would be an offensive powerhouse. Defense, of course, would be an issue but this squad would have the potential to simply outscore opponents. When guys like DeRozan and Vucevic are added to the mix, it looks that much better.

Jamal Mashburn – third option, scoring from the wing

Having LaVine on one wing sounds great, but the other wing seems a bit empty. Thus, there is Jamal Mashburn to fulfill that role. The former Maverick and Heat player has been putting the ball in the bucket from his first day in the league. One can only imagine what could have been if the first few years of his career were not wasted by a Dallas Mavericks team that clearly did not have an idea how to use him.

In this context, however, Mashburn should be chosen due to his Heat career. After three years in Dallas, he was traded to Miami where he was the third option, behind Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway. Mashburn did not respond by forcing the issue and trying to butt heads with his teammates. Rather, he worked hard to adjust and became a capable third option in those great 1990s Heat teams that only lost a true title chance due to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

In these Bulls, Mashburn and LaVine would interchange between second and third scoring options. That would give Ball two wing options, one on the interior in Malone and Vucevic that could also be an option in the offense. In continuation, DeRozan would be moved to the bench and he could legitimately contend for Sixth Man of the Year honors. In theory, this team sounds like complete offensive machinery, from top to bottom. As mentioned, the defense would be an issue, but outscoring opponents would never be a problem.

This Bulls team, of course without Mashburn and Malone, will be a postseason squad, barring any injuries or drama in the locker room. It will be great to see Chicago back on the playoff map since that is where they belong.