It is without question that the Chicago Bulls were one of the worst teams in the NBA last season. They finished with a 22-60 record, beating out only the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference, in what was another miserable run for Chicago.
It was yet another forgettable season for the Bulls, who appear to be stuck in basketball purgatory following back-to-back sub-par campaigns. Nevertheless, the Bulls are now looking to get out of their slump in the 2019-20 NBA season, and they have made strides in what was an eventful offseason for the franchise.
For starters, the Bulls selected University of North Carolina freshman Coby White with the seventh overall pick. The 6-foot-5 guard was tremendous for the Tar Heels last season, averaging 16.1 points (on 42.3 percent shooting), 3.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.1 steals, while also connecting on 2.3 three-pointers per contest on a 35.2-percent clip. White has a very high ceiling, and 19-year-old could easily establish himself as Chicago’s point guard of the future.
This was, however, an intriguing selection for the Bulls, who appear to have set themselves up for quite a headache at the one spot. Chicago also brought in former Washington Wizards point guard Tomas Satoransky in the summer via free agency (three years, $30 million), with the 27-year-old looking to lock in the starting spot for the Bulls this season. Interestingly, the team also signed incoming third-year man Ryan Arcidiacono to a three-year, $9 million extension, adding yet another point guard in their lineup.
Let’s not forget that former starting PG Kris Dunn is still in the picture, but it appears that his time in Chicago is all but done at this point. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how head coach Jim Boylen shuffles his point guards this term.
The addition of 31-year-old power forward Thaddeus Young via free agency (three years, $41 million) was a great move for the Bulls, as the 6-foot-8 veteran will look to fulfill a mentorship role for a young and inexperienced Bulls side.
Other offseason moves for the Bulls include the re-signing of incoming third-year guard (yup, another point guard) Shaquille Harrison to a one-year extension, and the addition of Arkansas sophomore forward Daniel Gafford as the 38th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft.
One to Watch
There’s much to be excited about for the Bulls in the 2019-20 NBA season. Zach LaVine will be entering his sixth season in the league (his third for the Bulls), and is hopeful to remain healthy throughout the campaign. Otto Porter, who arrived in Chicago via a mid-season trade from the Wizards, recorded career-high marks in his half a season with the Bulls last term, and more of the same is expected of the 26-year-old swingman. Chicago’s big man of the future, Wendell Carter Jr., also showed a ton of promise in his rookie year last season, and with his abdominal injury behind him, many expect him to have a breakout sophomore campaign.
However, the man to watch for the Bulls in 2019-20 has got to be 22-year-old power forward Lauri Markkanen. Last season, the 7-foot big man averaged 18.7 points (on 43.0 percent shooting), 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks, while also connecting on 2.3 three-pointers per game on an impressive 36.1-percent clip. The former seventh overall pick played only 52 games last season due to injury, and so long as he is able to stay healthy, Markkanen might just force his way into the All-Star conversation come February.
It is also worth noting that Markkanen only has two more years remaining on his rookie-scale deal, with the 2020-21 season a team option for Chicago. His performance this term will definitely play a huge role on the type of deal the Bulls will offer him once he becomes eligible to an extension.
Despite all the promise, though, the Bulls are not exactly expected to take a tremendous leap in the 2019-20 NBA season. They should be able to improve on their performances over the past couple of seasons, with a 35-win campaign looking like a realistic target for Boylen and his men.
However, there’s no denying that there is a lack of talent in the East, which might just give the Bulls an outside shot of making a push for the playoffs towards the tail end of the regular season. Teams like the Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, and the Detroit Pistons will likely be battling it out for the final few playoffs spots in the East, and the Bulls might just join in on the party. It isn’t likely that they will make it, though, but this should still be a very important campaign for Chicago’s young core, who hopes to take the first step into developing as contenders in the near future.