The NBA’s 2018-19 season is just around the corner and as early as now, players are already starting to put work in the gym to get ready for training camp, then preseason and, finally, the real deal itself.
The Bulls started the 2017-18 season slow but they still managed to win 27 wins last season. This despite the fact that Zach LaVine only played 24 games last season for the Bulls. After a 3-20 start, the Bulls finished the season with a 24-35 record and the relatively decent finish proved that this team is better than at 27 win team.
The Bulls didn’t have a really busy offseason but they made three moves which I think should give them a fairly good chance at competing for a playoff spot rather than vying for a lottery pick in the next NBA Draft.
Here they are:
Drafting Wendell Carter Jr.
At the 2018 NBA Draft, The Bulls selected Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. with the 7th overall pick. Draft Express thinks that Carter is a perfect compliment to incoming second year man Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen was the Bulls’ prized newcomer last season who displayed great ability to score, especially from the outside. With Carter providing the muscle and Markkanen the finesse, Chicago’s frontline has definitely gotten much better.
According to oddsmakers, Carter has the 9th best odds to win Rookie of the Year next season (+1400 per Betway odds as of 8/19/18) but based on what we saw in the Summer League, this kid is much better than that. Carter averaged 14.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game in five games played at the Summer League. He’s gonna surprise a lot of people this season.
Keeping Zach LaVine
Chicago matched the Sacramento Kings’ offer sheet to guard Zach LaVine at the start of the free agency period and retained the services of the high flying guard. LaVine was the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade and he came to the Bulls while still rehabbing an ACL injury.
He played just 24 games last season and averaged 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. LaVine led the Bulls in scoring eight times and had 11 20 point games last season. LaVine is projected to be Chicago’s top scorer and the new leader of this young Bulls team.
Adding Jabari Parker
To further strengthen their core, the Bulls signed Jabari Parker to a two year deal. Parker was the #2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. Like LaVine though, he is coming off an ACL injury and even worse than Zach, Jabari is coming off a second ACL injury
Chicago is making a huge gamble on a native son but if Parker returns to 100% strength, he is going to be a force to reckon with as well. The 23 year old Parker averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 51 games during the 2016-17 season before getting hurt.
A Playoff Team?
By getting these three key players on board for the 2018-19 season, the Chicago Bulls can now have a starting line-up of Chris Dunn at PG, Zach LaVine at SG, Jabari Parker at SF, Lauri Markkanen at PF and Robin Lopez at C. Of course, coming off the bench will be Wendell Carter Jr., Bobby Portis, Justin Holiday and Cameron Payne.
If you take a look at the team, only Omer Asik (32) and Robin Lopez (30) are aged 30 and above. The rest of the team is in their 20’s including Carter who is the youngest at 19. The knack on this team would be experience as only three players in the roster has at least 5 years experience in the NBA and that’s perhaps the reason why experts aren’t giving this team much chance next season.
Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Indiana, Milwaukee and Washington are almost locks to make the playoffs in the East next season. But the last two slots are likely going to be an open race. The Heat and the Cavs are considered the top choices to get the last two tickets to the big dance. But don’t count the Bulls out yet, not with this talented line-up.