With Dwayne Wade officially moving on from the team (1yr./2.3mil deal with the Cavs), the 2016-2017 Chicago Bulls roster has been almost completely wiped out. The “Big 3” of Butler, Wade, and Rondo have all found new homes, and the Bulls are left in full-on rebuild mode. Here is what we are left with:
No that’s not a D-League team, that’s really what Gar Forman and John Paxson plan on rolling out there this year.
Even the most casual basketball fan can tell that is a garbage team destined for a top lottery pick in the upcoming draft. The Bulls couldn’t possibly find a way to mess that up, right? If the Bulls were in the Western Conference, I would have zero doubt that they would be in last place; however, the reality is that the East, outside of the Cavs, Celtics, Wizards, Raptors and maybe the Bucks, are almost as sorry as the Bulls are. ESPN’s analytics predict that the Bulls will go 26-56 this upcoming season, which would be the worst record in the league, but would anyone be that surprised if the Bulls over performed and found themselves in the eighth playoff spot yet again? Let’s hope not.
The Bulls will likely have a rotation of:
1: Kris Dunn
2: Zach LaVine
3: Denzel Valentine
4: Nikola Mirotic
5: Robin Lopez
Bench: Cristiano Felicio
Bench: Antonio Blakeney
Bench: Paul Zipser
Bench: Quincy Pondexter
Bench: Lauri Markkanen
Bench: Bobby Portis
Bench: Jerian Grant
Bench: Justin Holiday
Inactive: Cameron Payne (still praying he gets waived any day now)
A lot of names there have real high upside in the future (ie. Dunn, LaVine, Valentine, Markkanen, maybe even Blakeney), but the reality is fans should be prepared to watch this team struggle to take leads night-in and night-out. The best case scenario would be that Zach LaVine leaves his knee issues behind him (reportedly has a higher vertical now than pre-injury), Kris Dunn lives up to his potential (scouts described him as “Chris Paul, but more athletic”), Markkanen turns out to be like Dirk, Valentine gets more confident, and Blakeney develops into a Jamal Crawford-esque perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate. Pair that with a #1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and the Bulls may just have something in a few years.
Hopefully LeBron either starts to slow down soon or pulls a classic Bron-move by ditching Cleveland for a stronger team in the West, and the Bulls can use their young, talented core to take advantage of a wide-open Eastern Conference. The 2018 NBA Draft is going to feature at least two future superstars in Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr. Both are above 6’10” and are athletic freaks (Bagley draws Anthony Davis comparisons and Porter Jr. draws Kevin Durant comparisons). I’ll gladly take either one.
Expectations for the team are incredibly low this year, so it is almost impossible for the Bulls to “let us down”, but the hope is that the young talent develops and the Bulls get a top pick in the draft. By some miracle, maybe one/both of Forman and Paxson get fired FINALLY this year, and either Bagley or Porter fall into our lap at the draft.