There is much that can be learned from the limited exposure these young Bulls have been given
Critics will argue that the preseason for the Chicago Bulls is meaningless. But then again, they might feel this way about preseason games in general. After all, established playoff bound teams usually have two set goals. Establish continuity and survive without any of your core players getting hurt and mission accomplished.
The same isn’t necessarily true for young teams who are looking to establish an identity. The Chicago Bulls have a lot of potential untapped talent on this team. Here are some of my thoughts about how the preseason has gone thus far.
Zach Lavine has his explosion back and is set up to have great year
The once thought of center piece of the Jimmy Butler trade had a tremendous preseason. Yes, its only been a few games, but the numbers don’t lie as to the type of player that Lavine can, and more than likely will become. For the preseason he scored 17.8 points in knocking down 51.7 percent of his shots, including 43.8 percent from 3-point range. More than anything, Lavine showed the explosion and ability to get to the free throw line. The ladder of which had been a sore point for critics of Lavine’s game throughout the years.
Bobby Portis is the real deal
Ever since the Bulls lost the services of Joakim Noah they have lacked a point man to direct the defense. Portis seems to be excelling in the role whether it be with the starting group or being the leader of the second unit. But Portis’ 17 points per game this preseason has proven that last year was no fluke as we watched his numbers spike in efficiency. His energy and willingness to play whatever role the Bulls thrust upon him is infectious.
Fred Hoiberg is finding his voice as a head coach
Hoiberg was right in his assessment of the starting play of newly signed Jabari Parker. He just wasn’t getting the job done and needed to be benched. Parker wasn’t lighting things up offensively and his transition defense (well any defense) was atrocious.
Continuing to put Parker out there with the first unit would have sent the wrong message to these young Bulls players. Namely that starting based off of your contract despite poor play and effort could negatively impact the harmony of the team.
Hoiberg openly preached that there was an open competition for playing time at each position. And Parker was being thoroughly outplayed by Portis. That’s not to say that Hoiberg won’t make the move to switch Parker back to the starting small forward position. Before you know it Lauri Markkanen will come back from his injury. But at least Hoiberg has established credibility with the team in standing to his word.
Wendell Carter will be the Bulls opening starting center
And because Hoiberg has stuck to his guns regarding the Parker situation, it makes sense that he would address the other elephant in the room. Robin Lopez has been thoroughly outplayed by Carter, who has adjusted nicely to the speed of the NBA.
Carter has shown an innate defensive awareness and runs the floor like a gazelle. His rim protection and ability to switch onto smaller defenders has been a nice change from the plodding likes of Lopez.
He will need to continue to show maturity on the defensive side as his early foul trouble has overshadowed at times his impact on the game. However, there’s no reason to think that with Lopez’s guidance, he won’t reach his full potential.