UA-59049186-1 NBA Team Preview: Chicago Bulls - Good if it Goes

NBA Team Preview: Chicago Bulls

Offseason

Draft Picks: 14. SF. Denzel Valentine, 48. SF. Paul Zipser

Key Acquisitions: PG. Rajon Rondo, SG. Dwyane Wade, C. Robin Lopez

Key Losses: PG. Derrick Rose, PF. Pau Gasol, C. Joakim Noah, SG. E’Twun Moore,

Player Profiles

Projected Lineup

PG. Rajon Rondo: 6’1, 186

  • Pass first PG with limited range.
  • Had the best shooting season of his career, but was it a fluke? He’s a ball dominant PG that loves to pass and set teammates up for assist.
  • Declining defensive player whose effort and focus just isn’t what it used to be.

SG. Dwyane Wade: 6’4, 220

  • Declining Hall-of-Fame SG that plays inside the arc.
  • Offensively, he’s a mid-range and in guy who can’t shoot the 3. But he is excellent scoring from 2-point range. He can post up and play with his back to the basket or operate at the elbows from triple threat and do damage.
  • Injuries to his knees have slowed him the most on defense.

SF. Jimmy Butler: 6’7, 220

  • 2-way wing with a lot of size and an all-around game.
  • Ball dominant wing that can score or pass it. Averaged nearly 5 assists per game a year ago and proved he could run the offense. Needs to be a more consistent 3-point shooter.
  • Overall defensive play has declined since he’s been asked to do more offensively 2 years ago, but when it’s time he can lock down on the ball.

PF. Taj Gibson: 6’9, 225

  • Undersized but effective defensive-minded power forward.
  • Can contribute offensively as a catch and post move scorer. Can knock down mid-range shots and attack close outs from that area.
  • Not the tallest guy, but has succeeded on the defensive end due to his long arms. He plays very smart on the defensive end and is a good PnR defensive big man.

C. Robin Lopez: 7’0, 255

  • High-energy, big-bodied center that plays hard at all times.
  • Key cog in any offense due to his high IQ, screen setting, and finishing around the basket.
  • Physical defensive player that has some mobility and protects the rim.

Bench

PF. Nikola Mirotic: 6’10, 220

  • Uniquely skilled offensive combo forward.
  • Has the skill set to play as a stretch 4 or on the wing. Handles the ball well for a guy his size and can make tough shots off the dribble. He’s a major pick n pop threat because of his skill set. Not only capable of popping out and knocking down shots all the way out to 3 point range but can put the ball on the floor and create for himself if the defense closes out.
  • Decent defensive player that is active and engaged on that end and is usually in a good position.

SF. Doug McDermott: 6’8, 220

  • Huge offensive minded SF that can really shoot it.
  • Thrives off the ball as a shooting specialist on offense.
  • Immobile wing with little to no lateral quickness who struggles to defend on the perimeter.

SG. Denzel Valentine: 6’6, 212

  • All-around perimeter player that can pass, shoot, and score.
  • Offensively he can really shoot the ball both spotting up and off the dribble. Has a nice handle for a wing player and can handle primary ball handling and playmaking duties.
  • Wasn’t a good defensive player in college and was often hid. Doesn’t project to be good at the NBA level.

C. Bobby Portis: 6’11, 250

  • 2nd-year big with a lot of promise and potential to be a contributor on both ends.
  • Portis can shoot the ball and contribute as a stretch big man.
  • Has potential to be a quality defensive player and wasn’t very bad as a rookie.

PG. Jerian Grant: 6’4, 198

  • Huge PG entering his 2nd season with all the physical tools to be better in year 2 than he was as a rookie.
  • Offensively right now he’s at his best penetrating and dishing to others. Right now he’s a bad 3-point shooter and won’t be able to maximize his best skill set.
  • Has the tools to be a really good defender but struggled some as a rookie which is to be expected but he should be a plus defender.

PG. Isiah Canaan: 6’0, 201

  • Undersized PG with limited athletic ability and doesn’t do much besides shoot.
  • Offensively his best and only trait of real value is 3 point shooting. He’s not a good passer and playmaker and though he can shoot the ball defenders can crowd him because they know he can’t get to the rim and the rare times he does he struggles to finish.
  • Has no value on the defensive end at all.

SF. Tony Snell: 6’7, 200

  • Mediocre back up wing that struggles on both ends.
  • Offensively he really isn’t effective shooting inside the arc. Only made 38% of his 2s . Decent 3-point shooter.
  • Hasn’t lived up to pre-draft expectations at all on defense.

Breakdown

The Bulls on paper have some names in the starting lineup, but this group could struggle because it really doesn’t seem to be a good fit. They have 3 ball dominant perimeter players, none of which are reliable from 3 point range. They have the worst 3-point shooting backcourt in the NBA in starting PG Rajon Rondo and SG Dwyane Wade. At this point in his career, Wade doesn’t even look to shoot 3s anymore, often opting to play with the ball in his hands from about 18 feet and in. Rondo prefers to play with the ball in his hands as he dribble dribble dribbles with or without a ball screen until he can find away to breakdown the defense and find a teammate for a potential assist. And then there’s Jimmy Butler at SF, who also likes to play with the ball and create his own offense. I think his offensive game could suffer the most surrounded by 2 guards who no defense will respect if they’re behind the 3 point line. There is some hope for this lineup in terms of shooting and his name is Nikola Mirotic the starting PF. He’s the best shooter in the lineup and most likely will find himself playing on the perimiter a ton while they allow either Wade or Rondo to roam off the ball and slash to negate their lack of shooting. Lopez, the starting center, will serve as the primary PnR partner for their 3 ball handlers.

The bench has some good pieces, but a huge hole at the backup PG spot. The backup PG position is really my only major concern about the Bulls. Grant figures to be the favorite to get the job after a good summer league performance but his 3 point shooting is also terrible which may open the door for Canaan, who’s 1 and only quality skill is shooting 3s. Both are highly flawed players and that may even open the door for rookie Denzel Valentine to get minutes as the backup PG if those 2 aren’t cutting it. The top contributors off the bench figure to be Taj Gibson and McDermott. Expect Portis to build on a quality rookie season last year and be an even bigger contributor this season.

Expectations

I’m sorry, but I can’t see the Bulls making the playoffs. Despite all these “names” they brought in the Bulls had a better team on paper last year and didn’t make the playoffs. The fact of the matter is the Bulls’ lineup just doesn’t project to mesh well at all. I could be wrong, but we’ll see. The direction the Bulls went in went completely against what they said they wanted to do and it seems they were just grasping at names to try and keep the team relevant. I didn’t think head coach Fred Hoiberg did a good job at all last season and now with less talent that doesn’t even go together, people expect the Bulls to be better? I can’t see it happening. The Bulls are going in the wrong direction.

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