The Chicago Bulls have been pretty bad the past two seasons. Last year, they ended the campaign with just 22 wins, which was good for 13th overall in the Eastern Conference. Only the Cleveleand Cavaliers and the New York Knicks performed worse than the Bulls last season, which speaks volumes of how disappointing the season was for Chicago.
The year before that, the Bulls notched 27 wins. While a bit of an improvement compared to the succeeding season, they were still a full 16 games outside the playoffs picture in a less competitive Eastern Conference.
Things are finally looking up for the Bulls this coming 2019-20 NBA season, though, with some even going as far as giving them an outside chance of making a run for a postseason spot. The hard reality is that this might still prove to be too big of an ask for a young and promising Chicago side, but surely, we should expect a much more memorable campaign this time around.
There are some narratives that we should keep an eye on for the coming season, and below, we present three that will likely make headlines throughout what should be a season filled with promise.
The Zach and Lauri Show
What’s next for Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in Chicago? Both guys have shown tremendous potential, but it’s getting very close to make or break territory for both guys at this point in their respective careers.
LaVine, 24, absolutely balled out for the Bulls last season in what was a relatively healthy second year for the team. The 6-foot-5 combo guard logged career-high marks in scoring (23.7), field goal percentage (46.7 percent), rebounds (4.7), assists (4.5), steals (1.0), and blocks (0.4). He played in 62 games for Chicago last season after suiting up for a combined 71 games over the previous two campaigns.
As for Markkanen, the incoming third-year 7-footer also stepped up his game for the Bulls last season as a sophomore, logging 18.7 points (on 43.0 percent shooting), 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks, while also knocking down 2.3 three-pointers on a 36.1-percent clip.
An outbreak season from either (or both) guys should instantly spell success for the Bulls, and with a very promising supporting cast in the likes of Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter, and veteran forward Thaddeus Young, to name a few, the Bulls definitely have a lot of promise, with LaVine and Markkanen at the helm.
Speaking of Otto Porter, his is another situation worth monitoring in the Windy City. The 6-foot-8 swingman arrived in Chicago in the middle of last season in a trade deal that sent Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis to the Washington Wizards. Porter was an instant hit, notching career-highs in points (17.5), three-pointers (2.6), and assists (2.7) in 15 games with the Bulls. The sample size is definitely small, but it is without question that the former third overall pick made a seamless transition to his new team.
Now what makes this situation interesting is the fact that Porter will have a player option on his deal next summer. He is definitely going to be one of the most important pieces for the Bulls this season, and it will be interesting to see how things play out for him. He will have a big decision to make in the next few months, and how the Bulls perform early in the season would surely have a significant impact on whether or not Porter decides to opt in on the final year of his current deal. If all goes according to plan, Chicago’s front office might even entice the 26-year-old to signing a lengthy (and lucrative) extension.
The Log Jam at the One
When he was healthy, Kris Dunn served as Chicago’s starting point guard last season. The oft-injured 25-year-old played in only 46 games, though, which prompted the Bulls to add some depth at the one spot. In came former Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky via free agency, and by paying him $30 million for a three-year deal, the Bulls definitely have some big plans for the 27-year-old.
In the draft, the Bulls then used their seventh overall pick to add on UNC freshman Coby White, who is another point guard. Let’s also not forget that LaVine also plays minutes at the one, so needless to say, there’s a bit of a log jam at the point guard position for head coach Jim Boylen.
There has been some whispers about the Bulls shopping out Dunn, but until anything is finalized, there’s definitely going to be a shortage of minutes at point guard spot this coming season. This is not an ideal situation for White, who will require a lot of playing time for his game to develop. It will be very interesting to monitor this situation in Chicago.
A return to the Michael Jordan era remains to be a pipe dream for Bulls fans. Maybe the Derrick Rose years might be a more achievable goal, but we still don’t see this happening in the immediate future. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting time to be a Bulls fan again, and hopefully, this coming season proves to be Chicago’s first step towards its long-awaited return to glory.