Losses: Robin Lopez, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Wayne Selden.
Additions: Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky, Luke Kornet, Coby White, Daniel Gafford.
Likely Starters Guard: Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine Wing: Otto Porter Big: Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr.
Predicted Record: 30–52 | 24th in NBA | 11th in East
The 2018-19 Bulls were a tough watch. They were terrible on offense (29th); they played slow; they tried to limit transition points (they were last in offensive rebound rate). They seemed sort of joyless. They formed a leadership committee. I’ll be honest here: I did not watch a ton of Bulls games in 2018-19.
Even so, I’m intrigued by what’s here. Zach LaVine—a longtime favorite of mine—and Otto Porter make a potentially devastating wing tandem. The two only got to play 13 games together, but in them they shared the court for 29 minutes on average. During those minutes, the Bulls had an offensive rating of 116.6, which would have led the league by a good margin. Even their defensive rating of 112.1 was better than the Bulls’ season-long rating of 112.8. They also bumped their pace up in those minutes from 99.3 (20th) to 102.4 (would have been ninth over the full season).
LaVine and Porter are a clean fit. LaVine wants to have the ball, use possessions, get to the line, set guys up; Porter wants to stretch the floor and play off the ball. Porter, at least in theory, can cover for LaVine’s inattentive defense. LaVine is 24 and Porter is 26. They should be better this season.
Around them is a roster that is beginning to come into focus. The Bulls signed Thaddeus Young, who will be an excellent fit alongside either Wendell Carter or Lauri Markkanen in the frontcourt. They picked up Luke Kornet, who can stretch the floor as a 5, and drafted Daniel Gafford, who has a ton of talent and looked good in summer league. In the backcourt, they picked up Tomas Satoransky from the Wizards, they get back Denzel Valentine from a year lost to injury, they brought back Ryan Arcidiacono, and they used their lottery pick on Coby White. Kris Dunn is still here. Shaq Harrison is a decent fourth guard.
What the Bulls have is lots of shooting, lots of positional versatility, lots of possible lineup combinations. I don’t know if Jim Boylen is the coach to take this team to whatever their next level is, but for the first time in a while, I like the Bulls’ roster. They aren’t special yet—nobody on this roster leaps out at you as a potential star—but it isn’t going to be easy to play against the 2019-20 Chicago Bulls, and in comparison to recent seasons, that’s a victory.