Should Lebron bolt for the west coast, the Eastern Conference will still have formidable opponents for the Bulls to math-up against. These playoffs have shown just how bright the future of the Pacers, 76ers, and Celtics are. And they’ll be strong for years to come.
Hope. For the longest of times it seems that word has been what defines this Bulls organization. Hope that Derrick Rose and his knees would return him to the explosive, graceful, and explosive player he once was. Hope that Jimmy Butler could return the Bulls back to Eastern Conference dominance. Hope that Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen are true foundational pieces that will bring the team back to contention.
But that hope can easily turn to doubt the longer the East playoffs continue to showcase the talent laden conference. The rise of the Pacers, 76ers, and Celtics proves that returning this team to relevance won’t be an easy process.
The Cavs aren’t mentioned in this list because at some point 33 year old Lebron James will become human and show his decline. Or for that matter simply leave the Eastern Conference and take his talents out west.
But for the foreseeable future the aforementioned teams will provide plenty of competition for returning to prominence. Their young core pieces have already been legitimately established that could pose a problem as the Bulls rebuild.
Can the Bulls match the intensity that these young teams have shown?
The Indiana Pacers fell short in seven games to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the organization appears to have bright future. The trade of Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis was was considered laughable. However the playoffs show-cased hidden talent that could attract potential free agents. And their toughness against the Cavs was no mere fluke as they gave them all they could handle throughout the year.
The 76ers with a young core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Dario Saric turned into one of the most fearsome teams in the league over the last couple of months. Embiid proved healthy enough to have his name listed as a DPOY candidate. Simmons lacks a consistent jump shot, and was still quite effective throughout the playoffs. And Saric is becoming the European talent that the team envisioned him becoming. All three play exceptionally well off of each other as shown below:
Then there’s the Boston Celtics whose acquisition of talent is making most front offices look just plain stupid. Despite missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward for the majority of the year, the Celtics have continued to shine. They’ll give Cleveland all they can handle with the defensive tactics that Brad Stevens will throw at Lebron. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown look like potential All-Stars and are both younger than 25.
And Terry Rozier’s play could either make Irving expendable or bring back even more draft picks in a packaged trade.
This isn’t to say that the Bulls can’t return to their rightful position of being in the forefront of the East. There’s not a team listed that can’t be overthrown with some hits in the lottery and some key free agent signings. As was listed in my last article, Michael Porter Jr. would be a huge get for this team.
But the Bulls had better hit on their own foundational pieces. Because “Hope” just ain’t enough.
photos from basket-infos.com and dawindycity.com