Preseason Preview #24: Chicago Bulls

Season Goal: Prove you won the Jimmy Butler trade

For some reason, there is a huge number of people that truly believe the Bulls are a playoff team. Obviously, anything is possible, but the Bulls in the playoffs is a long shot. For starters, they won’t have Mirotic for any of the season. Mirotic was one of their best players averaging almost 17 PPG on 58.8% eFG%. They were bad with him on the team, but even worse without him. Additionally, in the starting line up of Dunn, Lavine, Parker, Markkanen, and Carter Jr. who will play defense? Dunn is above average, Carter Jr is a promising yet unproven rookie. Lavine and Parker are sieves on the perimeter and the team as a whole will struggle to keep other teams under 110 PPG. It’s obvious the east is weak, but this team is simply too young and has too many problems to make the playoffs THIS year.

Story Lines:

Kris Dunn

An elite defender and great athlete Kris Dunn has shown flashes of brilliance but still has significant weaknesses. Currently, his biggest flaw is his efficiency and overall struggles on offense. Last year he averaged a respectable 13.4, but had only a 46.2% eFG%, shooting 43% from the field and 32% on threes. Additionally, he is far from an elite passer, last season he averages 6.0 APG but also had 2.9 turnovers per game. Offensively, Dunn will have to become a much better passer and shooter to become a competent starting point guard on a competitive team. But, there is still plenty of reason to be optimistic about his future, he’s only played 2 seasons and is only 23 years old, but this season he will have to prove he can improve his game and become a valuable member for the Bulls.

Young Bulls

With the acquisition of Jabari Parker and the resigning of Lavine, the Bulls managed to create possibly the worst defensive and best offensive young duo. It is an extremely important season for both of them after they came off of injuries last year and struggled while healthy. For Parker, his PPG average dropped off significantly going from 20.1 in the 2016-17 season to just 12.1 in the 2017-18 season. Missing 82 games in the last two seasons is also alarming, but he is only on a 1+1 contract with a team option, so it’s a very low-risk deal for the Bulls. It’s obvious that Parker is not an elite defender and may struggle to be even close to average, but his offensive game can be highly impressive. In his third season, he averaged over 20 points on 53% eFG, which is incredible. Last season, he shot 38.5% from three, giving signs of being unstoppable on offense. The big question for him is whether he can continue to improve or if injuries will derail his career.

Similarly, Lavine missed most of last season due to injury and his stats also dropped off in his return. He only dropped about 2 points in his PPG average (18.9 to 16.7), but his efficiency plummeted. After shooting 45.9% and 38.7% from three Lavine dropped to 38.3% from the field, 7.6% lower than last season. If he is unable to bounce back this season, Lavine will become almost useless because he is just a scorer and not much else. If they want to contribute to the team, they need to be able to score and score efficiently. I truly hope both of them stay healthy and continue to improve, but lots of questions surround both of them.

Depth Chart:

PG: Kris Dunn, Cameron Payne, Ryan Arcidiacono

SG: Zach Lavine, Justin Holiday, Antonio Blakeney

SF: Jabari Parker, Denzel Valentine, Chandler Hutchinson

PF: Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio

C: Robin Lopez, Wendell Carter Jr., Omer Asik

Salary Cap Situation:

~107M of ~101M cap committed

Expiring Deals: Cameron Payne, Ryan Arcidiacono, Justin Holiday, Bobby Portis, Robin Lopez

Bad Contracts: Omer Asik (2yrs, ~22M), Zach Lavine (4yr, 78M) (this one might end up being fine)

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