The Runner Sports

The Chicago Bulls’ Rebuilding Project

When the Chicago Bulls finally pulled the trigger on trading Jimmy Butler after years of rumors, it immediately signaled that the organization decided to rebuild their roster.  A lot of fans around the league thought that the Minnesota Timberwolves got an absolute steal for a rising star in Jimmy Butler, while the Bulls were left with a lot of question marks and uncertainties.

Zach LaVine was having his best season so far before his ACL injury.  Chicago is no stranger to this type of injury, and the potential anguish that comes along with it, but assuming he comes back healthy, LaVine is in a better situation to thrive more in Chicago than in Minnesota.  Fred Hoiberg’s system is designed around player movement and spacing for his players to operate.

LaVine will have more freedom and space to display more of his shot making ability, as well as use his gliding athleticism and quickness to make plays for himself and teammates.  With a young, two-time dunk champion as a potential centerpiece for a rebuilding team, Chicago could have more highlights and hope than ever before.

The other player came over in the trade is Kris Dunn.  Under Tom Thibodeau, Dunn struggled the majority of his rookie season, and that leaves many Bulls fans under the impression that he won’t become a good player in this league, but I disagree.  Coming into the league last year, the scouting report on Kris Dunn was that he was a fierce defender, he had good athleticism, and could make plays for others.  Being 6’4 and playing the point guard position was another noticeable quality about Dunn as a prospect.  That with his size, combined with his athleticism and speed, he could be a potential game changer somewhere down the road being a two-way point guard.

Just as I mentioned with Zach LaVine, I do believe Dunn has a much greater chance to flourish with the Bulls than he ever would have under Tom Thibodeau, who doesn’t really trust rookies. Hoiberg will continue to encourage Kris Dunn to push the ball as much as possible after opponents’ missed shots and turnovers, and Dunn will be free to learn, grow as a player, and make mistakes to learn from to improve even more as a player.  He will shoot the three-point shot with more confidence this year, because he is free to just go out there and play his game with very little pressure to be good right away because of the rebuilding situation.  Kris Dunn has the potential to be the two-way point guard the Bulls have been needing for a couple of years now, and that’s a good place start when starting over as a franchise.

The last piece to the beginning of this rebuilding process is the #7 overall pick from Arizona, freshman Lauri Markkanen.  The Bulls swapped picks with the T-Wolves, and this was the only thing I was completely against doing.  The Bulls were in a situation where they could get the #7 pick from Minnesota and keep their own pick at #16 to add more, young talent to a organization that just hit the reset button.  For some reason, however, the most the Bulls got out of this drafting situation was a simple trade of picks, meaning only choosing one potentially good player instead of two.

Other than that random act of confused action, I really do like the player they chose to get at #7 as a building block.  Markkanen mentions in a brief interview that he had no idea that the Chicago Bulls were going to draft him, as he did not work out with the team one time and just didn’t believe that they were going to pick him whatsoever.  This is what probably makes this pick even more interesting, considering that they actually drafted a young player that has the potential to be something pretty remarkable.  Lauri Markkanen is a 7-footer with an unbelievable jump shot, as he shot 42% from three in his one and only season at Arizona.  He is a very mobile big man that is able to take is the defender off the dribble, and he can post up his defender because of his size.  The knock on him is that he will need to get stronger, but other than the eventual body change, this 19-year-old will undoubtedly undergo, he has the size, skill and natural ability to be a top 3 player on the Bulls in a couple of years.  He could possibly be in the running to win Rookie of the Year if he plays enough, and he most likely will.  He was arguably not only the best shooting big man in his draft class, but has a legit chance to be the best shooter in the draft overall, top 5 for sure.

This was one of the better picks the Bulls have had in years, because they drafted a young player with huge upside, and the Bulls haven’t been that accurate as of late when it comes to drafting based off those two criteria (youth/upside).  So this pick was definitely a step in the right direction, as Markkanen can turn out to be a bigger, better, more versatile version of what the Bulls hoped Nikola Mirotic would have been by now.

So the official rebuilding process has started in Chicago. With the Warriors dominating the league, and LeBron still residing in the Eastern Conference, these next couple of years of drafting high and developing talent will be absolutely crucial for the Bulls to get back to their winning ways again.  Until that time, however, let’s hope fans can see a young core with talent grow as players and most importantly, as a team.

Derrick Hicks

Hello, my name is Derrick Hicks from Chicago, and I just speak/write my mind on these crazy Bulls adventures.Please Enjoy!

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