Areas Of Strength
The Chicago Bulls, in unabashed rebuilding mode, discovered their core for the future pretty quickly. Knowing that Zach LaVine would be returning from post-knee surgery rehab as a key piece, they quickly saw how rookie Lauri Markkanen and second-year guard Kris Dunn -- like LaVine, acquired from Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade -- fit together nicely. But a 10-6 December spooked the front office that too much winning too soon might torpedo the organization’s goal of a high draft pick. So judicious player usage after that, combined with injuries, limited the Markkanen-Dunn-LaVine core to just 12 games together. Chicago has about $61 million committed in salaries before any free agency decisions or activity, so there is cap space available. But signs point to the Bulls -- with their two first-rounders -- sticking with the less expensive build-from-within approach for now.
The Bulls could use more depth overall and particularly on the wings. LaVine is going to need to find a way to mesh with Dunn and Markkanen, as far as ball-sharing, assuming Chicago pre-empts or matches any offers he gets from the outside this summer. The team could use another player or two who can create his own offense.
Two Stats That Matter
2 -- The Bulls saw both the second biggest drop in OffRtg (-3.3 points scored per 100 possessions) and the second biggest increase in DefRtg (+4.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) from 2016-17 to '17-18.
69 percent -- The Bulls allowed their opponents to take 69 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range. That was the highest opponent rate in the league.
-- John Schuhmann
The Way To Go
The Bulls were bummed when they didn’t get any luck from the lottery gods this time and, in fact, slipped a spot to No. 7. They’d perk up if somehow Mohamed Bamba and his 7-foot-10 wingspan still were on the board. If not, a big such as Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. might get the call with Chicago’s lottery pick. At No. 22, a wing such as Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison would make sense for need.
2016-17 Team Stats (points per 100 possessions, with NBA rank)
Offensive: 101.3 (28th)
Defensive: 109.1 (28th)
G: Kris Dunn
G: Jerian Grant
G: Cameron Payne
G: Justin Holiday
F: Denzel Valentine
F: Paul Zipser
F: Bobby Portis
F: Lauri Markkanen
C/F: Cristiano Felicio
C: Omer Asik
C: Robin Lopez
G: Ryan Arcidiacono (restricted)
G: Sean Kilpatrick (unrestricted)
G: Zach LaVine (restricted)
F: David Nwaba (restricted)
F: Noah Vonleh (restricted)
Recent Draft History
2017: Justin Patton (16); Jordan Bell (38)
2016: Denzel Valentine (14); Paul Zipser (48)
2015: Bobby Portis (22)
2014: Jusuf Nurkic (16), traded to Denver; Gary Harris (19), traded to Denver; Cameron Bairstow (49)
2013: Tony Snell (20); Erik Murphy (49)
-- Steve Aschburner