Say what you want about last year’s Bulls squad, this is an entirely different team. DeRozan, Lonzo, and Caruso are the statement additions from this offseason. This team is looking to build themselves up from last year and become a playoff team.
The most essential subject encompassing Chicago’s season is Lonzo Ball. Why? LaVine will give you ample minutes, DeRozan will always be himself and help the team, and Vucevic is good for a double-double nearly every night. Whether Lonzo is on or off jeopardizes the value of this team. Take a look at the Bulls’ starting point guards throughout the years. Last year, it was Coby White (later Satoransky), the previous year, it was Ryan Arcidiacono, before him, it was Jerian Grant. The point is, Chicago hasn’t had a competent point guard since Derrick Rose after his injury (2015-16). I believe that Lonzo can resurrect this team and bring it all together. Ball doesn’t need to score or drive into the paint, which are two things that the Bulls’ starting lineup executes soundly. He is a pass-first point guard and can mold this roster together. His three-point shot has taken a significant jump from his first two seasons in LA. He shot 37.8% from three last season and having a point guard that can shoot when they are open (and even when they are contested, in Lonzo’s case) is a bonus because such attention will be paid to DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic, it will be tough to guard all three without leaving Ball somewhat open. Being able to knock down threes is a wonderful skill that will benefit the team tremendously. Having a point guard that is a prolific passer and can shoot accommodates the shape of the team and what they’ve lacked in their offense for numerous years.
The second point surrounding the Bulls’ improvement is the (continued) improvement and development of Patrick Williams and Coby White. Let’s start with White. His improvement is evident on the stat sheet, let alone watching him in real life. White was more aggressive this year and not as timid to approach the basket. He shot a better percentage from every spot on the court last season than he did the year before, (0-3, 3-10, 10-16, 16-3P, 3P) including an 11% increase in free throw percentage to 90.1%. He also averaged two more assists than he did the season before. Meanwhile, Patrick Williams has already shown improvement in Summer League. He averaged a dominating 21 PPG and 9.7 RPG on 43.8% shooting from three. He truly controlled the game from all areas of the court. Whether it was scoring in the paint, the mid-range, or shooting with confidence from deep, Williams was getting it done. His scoring will almost certainly decrease this season with all of the scoring options on the roster, but his defense will remain an integral component of this team. Zach LaVine isn’t exactly a plus defender, nor is DeRozan or Vucevic. This means that Ball and Williams will be the majority of the starting lineup’s defense arsenal and we can assume the 6’7 versatile forward will be defending the opposing team’s best players similar to his rookie season.
Despite the obvious defensive limitations that linger within the roster, this team will score an absolute boatload of points. The only question is whether their defense can hold up to a point so the opponent can’t score as much as them. The concerns surrounding the DeRozan, LaVine, and Ball fit are not much to worry about. These are three professional basketball players and although it may look rough the first few games, it won’t take them long to make it all fit. With Vucevic, you now have three options to run your pick-and-roll with. The non-screener will most often be DeRozan or Ball, leaving LaVine in the corner for an open shot or a cut to the basket.
With all that being said, don’t expect the Bulls to contest with the East division juggernauts, but this team will prove to be extremely competitive and will have a genuine possibility to repeat what the New York Knicks of last season achieved.