555. That’s the number of days that have passed since the last time the Chicago Bulls played regular season basketball.
There has been so much that has happened since then that last season feels like an eternity ago. It’s crazy to think that we’re only a year removed from Bobby Portis literally punching Nikola Mirotic so hard and far that he wound up in New Orleans. It’s even crazier to think that Jimmy Butler (the same Jimmy Butler who is currently starring in the NBA’s hit drama: The Minnesota Timberwolves) was on the team just a year and a half ago. And crazier than that is the fact that Thibs still thinks it’s 2012. So yeah, a lot can change in just a little bit of time.
After finishing last year with a record of 27-55, the Bulls reloaded in the offseason by selecting Mr. Wendell Carter, Jr. with the 7th overall pick, Chandler Hutchison, aka the man with the Perfect Hairline with the 22nd overall pick, signing the hometown kid Jabari Parker, and resigning Zach LaVine to a 4-Year/$78M deal.
And yet, with all of these moves, there seems to be more questions than answers heading into the season. This is especially true with Coach Fred Hoiberg announcing on Wednesday that Jabari Parker will be coming off the bench for the season opener. With Lauri Markkanen currently estimated to be out six-to-eight weeks with an elbow strain (sad), Bobby “Crazy Eyes” Portis will slide into the starting lineup.
I’ve been a Bulls fan all of my life and no joke, since the start of this decade, there are always more questions than answers heading into the season. But it’s fun because this team is NEVER dull.
Let’s ask a series of the important questions surrounding this team for the 2018-19 NBA season.
What to expect from Jabari Parker? If you like to pay your 6th man $20M a year than boy do I have a player for you! But in all seriousness, it’s a bit worrisome to hear that Parker will start the season on the bench instead of starting. The Bulls mentioned that they wanted to play Jabari at the 3 but a less than stellar preseason seems to have tabled that idea, for now at least. You would think that with Lauri out, they would want to play Jabari at the 3 to get him used to that role once he’s back, but maybe Hoiberg thinks that starting Portis would lead to better bench play with Parker as the main guy. Either way, it’s been a questionable start to an already questionable decision to bring Parker in for that price. I’m rooting for him to be successful obviously, but his play will make or the break the season, in my opinion.
How much will Bobby Portis end up re-signing for? So the deadline came and went without an extension deal being struck for Bobby Portis. Both sides agreed to revisit the talks after the season. The big man out of Arkansas is poised to have a break out year and the fans of Chicago absolutely love him. He’s really been doing and saying all the right things.
2019 nba 6th man of the year. Speak everything into existence https://t.co/XStDVZw7ui
— Bobby BP Portis (@BPortistime) June 2, 2018
Bobby Portis even stronger on wanting to stay in Chicago: "I couldn’t see myself in any other jersey. Obviously, I got Bulls DNA. Me and the city have a love connection somewhere. I just enjoy playing for the Bulls."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 16, 2018
.@nikebasketball y’all gotta bring the St. Patty’s jerseys back this year for us.
— Bobby BP Portis (@BPortistime) July 17, 2018
It’s easy to see why he’s a fan favorite and there’s no doubt in my mind that the Bulls should and will re-sign him. It’s just a matter of how much. With LaVine being signed to the big deal, and Jabari potentially on the books for another $20M next year, how much will that leave for Portis? This will definitely be something to keep an EYE on all year, especially if Bobby has the big season that he’s ENVISIONING (Shoutout to Zenni Optical.)
Speaking of Zenni, what are the thoughts on the new sponsorship? The Bulls announced on Tuesday that they had an official jersey sponsor now. They were one of a handful of teams in the NBA that didn’t have one. I saw some fans on Twitter upset because the Bulls jersey is “sacred” and “we’re better than that”. Blah, blah, blah, blah. I don’t really care. The logo is hardly visible and if two franchises arguably more iconic than the Bulls in the Lakers and Celtics have Wish and GE on their jerseys, then I think it’s fine. Although, I will say that Portillo’s, Harold’s Chicken, or 773-202-LUNA would have all been better choices.
Is Zach LaVine making the “leap” this year? It’s always been said that the year after coming back from an ACL tear is when you’re back BACK. This year will be that year for Zach LaVine, fresh off a big money extension with the Chicago Bulls. The front office obviously has a ton of faith in Zach, and believe he could develop into a star. He’s been impressive this preseason, as he’s looked explosive, and has been scoring fairly efficiently. Obviously, the big thing with him is defense, but it’s encouraging to see someone like Kris Dunn working out with Zach and helping him turn into a better player. I believe this year Zach LaVine is going to turn some heads.
What is Kris Dunn’s ceiling? It’s year two for Kris Dunn as a member of the Chicago Bulls and one that comes with lofty expectations. He made significant progress from his first year in the league and showed some real flashes last year. The main question with him is if he’ll be able to develop a consistent jumpshot. I’d like to see him become into a smarter decision maker on offense as well. His ability to play elite defense gives him a solid floor as an NBA player, but him reaching a new level on the offensive end could really turn him into one of the better two-way players in the whole league.
Could Wendell Carter win Rookie of the Year? Eh, maybe not. BUT, he’s going to be in the running all year long as people get to see him play night in and night out. He just does everything extremely well and impacts the game in so many different ways. He won’t be as flashy as some of the other rookies, but he’ll become more and more important to this team as the season goes on, especially as the last line of defense on that end of that court. I’m so excited to watch him play and even more so to see the frontcourt of the future when Markkanen returns. It’s nice to see two potential home run picks in back to back years at #7 overall.
Is this the year the Bulls officially become Lauri Markkanen’s team? I was extremely bummed out to hear about Markkanen’s injury to start the year. Now Bulls fans will have to wait another six-to-eight weeks before seeing the potential future of the franchise play again. He’s been a gym rat all summer long and the flashes he showed last year as a rookie are enough to get the whole city buzzing about The Finnisher. Ultimately, I think this year is the year that the Bulls front office officially commits to Lauri being the man and start building around him, which I think they did a great job of by drafting the aforementioned Wendell Carter. I’m ready for Lauri and it wouldn’t shock me to see him become an All-Star as early as next year.
The Chicago Bulls open the season on the road in Philadelphia versus the 76ers.
Wanna talk Bulls? Tweet me @jdez_xo.