Absent from the Playoffs for the past four years, the Chicago Bulls have given themselves the means to fulfill their ambitions. With a hyperactive Karnisovas at its head, Chicago has a workforce capable of fighting for a direct place in the postseason.
However, it was not easy as the franchise seemed unable to find the right path since the successive departures of Thibodeau and Butler. Despite the arrival of interesting young players through the draft – consecutively Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr and Coby White – the Bulls’ project remained unclear. Too strong to totally tank and have a very high choice, but too weak to hope to hang the Playoffs, Chicago was in an uncomfortable situation. Especially since these talents did not exploit their full potential. Blame it on questionable coaching choices. Neither Fred Hoiberg nor Jim Boylen could make the most of the bull roster.
Competitiveness as a watchword
Arturas Karnisovas arrived and repeated his ambition to remake the Bulls into a competitive franchise. And actions followed words from the very beginning of free agency. A few minutes after the opening, Lonzo Ball landed in Illinois to take the position of point guard. Author of a good season in Louisiana with 14 points (38% behind the arc), 5 rebounds and 6 assists, Ball could well be an ideal complement to Lavine. When the latter takes charge of offensive creation, the eldest of the Ball family will move smartly and be able to find open spots to punish the opponent.
On the other hand, if he goes up the ball and orchestrates the attack of the Bulls, thanks to his vision and his quality of pass, the partner who will be at the reception will be in a good position. Especially Vucevic, via pick and roll or pick and pop, it’s not a problem for the pivot. Or a wide open outside shooter because the defense will be disorganized and Lonzo will find the perfect angle to drop the leather. Finally, defensively, Ball is one of the best in his position. His defensive IQ and arm length make him a nightmare for some forwards, and he will help make the franchise more effective in this part of the field.
Strong and smart choices
Especially since he is not the only reinforcement of weight to strengthen the defense. Indeed, Alex Caruso leaves Los Angeles to find Lonzo Ball, whom he has known for two years. The guard had become one of the darlings of the Staples Center thanks to his qualities, his heart and his dedication to the team. His statistics are not glorious but they cannot measure his real impact on the Lakers. If the Californians were among the best defenders in the league over the last two seasons, Caruso was not there for nothing.
Then, he is an extremely intelligent player, who does not need the ball to shine and he is capable of punishing from afar. It’s not for nothing either if LeBron really liked playing with the guard since his arrival in California. These two recruits already brought a lot to allow the franchise to take a step forward. But for its leaders, this seemed insufficient. That’s why Demar DeRozan joined the bulls. Rather expected from a contender for a lower salary, the former Spurs player finally gave in to the attractive offer from the Bulls. Less scorer and more creative under Popovich, we will see which version of DeRozan will be on the United Center floors.
In the departures department, Markkanen finally left, he who was no longer in the odor of holiness in Illinois. The beginning of the adventure was nevertheless attractive for the young player. Arrived as part of the transfer of Jimmy Butler, he was to be one of the fundamental stones of the revival of the Bulls. But injuries and his sometimes soft game (especially on the rebound), led Chicago to separate from the inside. In a three-way trade sending the Finn to the Cavs, Derrick Jones Jr goes the opposite way. After a promising start to his career with the Heat, the explosive winger struggled to land on a team to become useful in a tight rotation. The adventure of Daniel Theis also stops. Arrived in March, the player took the direction of Houston to supervise the young people of the Texas franchise.
An osmosis to find
One of the keys to making the Bulls work will be to find chemistry quickly. Ball, Lavine, DeRozan and Vucevic like to have the ball to create or score. Billy Donovan will have to define everyone’s roles for the team to work well. Before the start of the season, we can imagine the Bulls will start with Ball and Lavine on the back lines. Williams and DeRozan will share positions 3 and 4 and Vucevic will be pivot. This five is able to create and vary a lot offensively. Apart from DeRozan, the other four players can shoot 3 points with respectable percentages. This will space the field and open gaps to allow cuts and scoring easily under the basket. Defensively, Chicago shouldn’t be an elite defense in the league but strong enough that it won’t be a burden to carry all season.
Now a question arises: how far can this team go? A priori, this team will be able to make the Playoffs, unless there is a cataclysm. However, it’s hard to imagine the Bulls reaching the top of the league. This squad is talented but not enough to beat the Bucks or the Nets in a seven-game series. To see them make a journey such as the Hawks during the last Playoffs, and reach a conference final as a ceiling, is, on the other hand, not unimaginable.