The Chicago Bulls decided to go into full rebuilding mode last year when they traded Jimmy Butler on draft night to the Minnesota Timberwolves. After that, they ended up going 27-55—the sixth-worst record in the NBA—but unfortunately hurt their draft stock by winning some useless December games (Thanks Niko). And then in very Bulls fashion, the lottery balls dropped them from sixth to seventh in the draft.
Last season wasn’t all doom and gloom though, partly due to Lauri Markkanen, who averaged 15.2 ppg and 7.5 rpg while shooting 36.2% from 3. Chicago seems to have a future star in the making in the ‘Finnisher’, who has put on 10 pounds of muscle already this offseason!
But, now they need to build off that if they want to contend anytime soon. In today’s NBA you need multiple STARS if you want to be a real title contender. The worst thing is to be stuck in basketball purgatory…the 5th-8th seed every year in the playoffs.
So where are the Bulls now? They go into this offseason with two picks (No. 7, No. 22 via the Mirotic trade), and cap space. Here are the steps GarPax need to follow to get back to the top, starting with tomorrow night’s NBA draft:
Hit a home run in the draft
I’ve written about this ad nauseum, but I want the Bulls to swing for the fences tomorrow night, and go for a guy with a high ceiling. It will all depend on how the pieces fall, but at No. 7 guys that come to mind are Michael Porter Jr. if they want to go wing, Mo Bamba and Jaren Jackson Jr. as bigs to pair with Markkanen, or a guard like Trae Young. I love MPJ, and if he is there at 7, the Bulls have to take him (unless they trade up). At 7, the reward is worth the risk.
While I would like to see them go best available at 7, I’d love for them to go for need at No. 22, but that all depends on what they do earlier. A guy like Chandler Hutchison would be a good fit, and supposedly has a promise from the Bulls. Let’s see if he falls that far.
The Bulls hit a home run last year with the selection of Markkanen, but they need to build on that by getting this draft right.
Solve the LaVine dilemma
The Bulls held Zach LaVine out until January, which was the right move with him recovering from an ACL surgery. Once back, LaVine showed flashes of a star, especially in a four-game stretch in late January/ early February. During that stretch, LaVine scored 23 points vs. the Portland Trailblazers, 21 vs. the Los Angeles Clippers, 27 against the Sacramento Kings, and 35 against his old team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. And, just in case you were wondering if his hops were back, he showed everyone he was fine:
But he also showed some rust, shooting just 38.3 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from three-point range. His defensive effort was also lacking in games towards the end of the season, but I give him the benefit of the doubt coming off such a major surgery.
Either way, LaVine was one of the biggest pieces in the Jimmy Butler trade, and word has it that the Bulls are willing to match anything to keep him. He’s one of the only guys on the team that can create his own shot, so they view him as a building block for the future. If the Bulls can get him in the $15-20 million range, it will be a huge win for them. The real dilemma for the front office comes if anyone does offer him a max deal. While I am a fan of LaVine and his game, that would be a tough pill to swallow.