Well, things got ugly real quick. In the first game of the season, the Bulls came away with a 19 point loss. I knew things were off to a bad start before the game even started. The Bulls announced Kris Dunn would miss the game for personal reasons (which happened to be the birth of his son, congrats Kris!) and Cameron Payne would be the starting point guard. My prediction was that either Zach Lavine would put up 50 points or the Bulls would lose badly. The latter was the outcome. Here are my takeaways from what I saw last night:
The offense has the potential to be really really good. So good in fact, that the Bulls scored 41 points in the 1st quarter, which set a franchise record for most points in a 1st quarter. This broke the previous record of 34 which was set on 10/26/1984 (aka Michael Jordan’s very first game). The offense is going to have to click like this as much as possible this season for the Bulls to rack up some wins. Largely because the defense is just plain bad. If the offense begins to slow, which happened in the 2nd half of the game, this team does not have the defensive presence to claw their way to victory on that end of the floor. It didn’t help that our best defensive player in Dunn was not available. The Bulls are going to have to do a better job of communicating and getting back to the basket to guard, to at least play respectable defense.
Zach Lavine is showing how determined he is to prove that he can be the Bulls next superstar. Zach has impressed all preseason with his shooting and explosive athletic ability, while even showing some improvement on defense. While Zach didn’t put up the 50 I said he would, he did score 30 points on 11/19 shots, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished 3 assists, but surprisingly had 3 blocks. Zach has the athleticism and explosiveness, to go along with one of the prettiest jumpers in the game, to be that go-to scorer the Bulls will need. It will be interesting to see the production of Lavine and Lauri Markkanen, once he returns from injury. One of these men will have to accept the role as 2nd option to the other’s 1st option. Lavine and Markkanen or Markkanen and Lavine? Only time will tell.
Bobby Portis is the real deal. Last season he was the Bulls most consistent player, and so far throughout the preseason and last nights game, he’s picking right back up where he left off. Bobby had made it known he has a goal to win the 6th man of the year award. However, with Markkanen on the sidelines, along with the less than stellar play of Jabari Parker, Bobby has found himself in the starting line up. He came away last night with a double-double to the tune of 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulls weren’t able to negotiate an extension of his rookie deal by the deadline, so Bobby will become a restricted free agent, and the Bulls should be prepared to match any offer that Bobby receives.
I’m beginning to think the Bulls signing Jabari Parker was a mistake. He was brought on to be the starting small forward, which failed so terribly, that the idea was shelved during the preseason. With Markkanen out, he was to slide to power forward and become the starter. Only that failed , and he was moved to the bench in favor of starting Portis. His defense has been bad and making matters worse, his offense hasn’t been good either.
When Markkanen returns and Portis moves back to the bench, where does Parker fit? In no way should he play over Portis, and the Bulls didn’t give him $20 million to rack up DNP-CD’s( Did Not Play Coach’s Decision). What would you do with Parker? Play him off the bench at the 4 and move Portis to the center position? Try him at the 3 again with Markkanen on the floor? Use his expiring contract as trade bait at the trade deadline and send him packing? Let me know in the comment section.
Wendell Carter Jr. had a tough assignment for his first career NBA game. He had to guard Joel Embid, who ate him up for breakfast in the paint. The kid is a rookie and only 19 years old. He was understandably nervous playing his first game as a Bull that counts. I’ll think he’ll be just fine and give solid production as the starting center as the season rolls on.
The Bulls definitely missed Kris Dunn, but one thing became clear, Ryan Arcidiacono should be Dunn’s back up. Cameron Payne is the absolute worst player in the entire NBA and the Bulls should not extend a qualifying offer to him this offseason and just let him go. He’s just terrible at everything.
He is without a doubt in my book the worst player to ever put on a Bulls uniform, yes even worse than G League Teague (Marquis Teague). If Dunn is not back for the next game, Ryan needs to start at the point and one of our 2-way players should be his back up. Payne just doesn’t need to see the court period.
The Bulls are back in action on Saturday, for their home opener at the United Center, against Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons. We’ll see if the Bulls can grab their first win of the season.