2016-17 in review: 41-41, 8th in the East. Lost to the Boston Celtics 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs.
Projected Starting Lineup: PG Kris Dunn, SG Dwyane Wade, SF Zach LaVine, PF Bobby Portis, C Robin Lopez
2017-18 Season Outlook: The Chicago Bulls are going to have a miserable year and there’s no way around that. However, it may not be a bad thing. It appears the front office is ready to begin the tanking process, gathering up young players and future draft picks. It all began on draft night, when Chicago sent budding superstar Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the number 7 overall pick, which became Lauri Markkanen. It’s obviously difficult for a team to dish out their star player, especially when he is also emerging as a top-10 player in the NBA, but it was necessary for the Bulls moving forward.
Looking a little deeper into the trade, Minnesota knows exactly what they’re getting: a terrific wing player that can score and defend with the best of them, as well as an intriguing big-man prospect in Justin Patton, taken with Chicago’s 16th overall pick. However, on Chicago’s side, it seems to be pretty “boom-or-bust.” Dunn made almost no progress during his rookie campaign last year, but still has the potential to be a decent floor general with great defense. LaVine is the opposite; the 22 year-old was in the midst of a breakout season before tearing his ACL and began showing signs of future stardom. If he can regain his ridiculous explosiveness and dead-eye shooting form, Chicago may have their new franchise savior.
As for Markkanen, he gives the Bulls something they desperately needed: versatility and three-point shooting. The former Arizona Wildcat has the potential to be yet another “unicorn”. Standing seven-feet tall, Markkanen can shoot like most guards, while also possessing the ability to be a solid rebounder and ball-handler. While some viewed him as simply another big-man spot-up shooter, he’s spent all summer dispelling that notion:
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) September 7, 2017
As for the rest of the roster, there’s not much that’s noteworthy. It’s hard to really predict or project what Dwyane Wade’s season will look like with the everlasting rumors of his impending buyout. As of now, it would appear that his days in Chicago are limited. Robin Lopez will be a reliable body down low, but doesn’t offer much beyond that. He’s played at least 80 games in four of the last five years, but posted very lackluster numbers in his first season with the Bulls (10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 49.3 percent shooting). Denzel Valentine had a forgettable rookie season, appearing in 57 games, averaging just 17 minutes, and shooting roughly 35 percent from the field. However, if Wade is gone in the near future, Valentine would likely see a sizable increase in his role.
Projected Strengths: Athleticism, defense, youth
Projected Weaknesses: Shallow roster, poor three-point shooting
Projected win total: 22-26 wins