Behind closed doors at the Bulls Advocate Center in Chicago, you will find plenty of fresh faces next season: Coby White, Daniel Gafford, Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young, and Luke Kornet all joined the Bulls roster over the summer. And today, I want to talk about that last guy, because he absolutely destroyed the Bulls last year.
Indeed, Kornet has played only two games against the Chicago Bulls lifetime, but those games were two of the best in his young career: posting a 112.4 offensive rating, with a total of 36 points scored.
In his first game played against the Bulls alone, he scored a career-high 24 points with three blocks.
If you want to watch him make the Bulls look silly, here are the highlights.
Funny enough, Kornet didn’t own the Bulls in the paint. He actually managed to go 5-7 from downtown, a great example of how streaky he can be from behind the arc. In any case, it appears as though the Bulls saw what he had to offer on the court and wanted him to stop doing it to them, and against other teams instead.
He does check off boxes in two areas of need for the Bulls: shooting and front court depth. He is large enough to fill the void of Robin Lopez at the center position but also versatile enough to complement this more modern Bulls squad. He isn’t necessarily the most physical player inside, but being able to have him in practices to challenge the 19-year-old Wendell Carter Jr. and the rookie Daniel Gafford should be a nice benefit in their development.
The second game Kornet played against Chicago he earned himself a double-double (12/13). This time, his valuable size and frontcourt help were on full display. While the guy is, right now, more known for his shooting capability, it always helps to have a seven-footer underneath the basket. If we know one thing, the Bulls need help on the defensive end of the ball. Carter Jr. has proven to have some nice blocking chops, but he isn’t the stronger big man on the floor and plays much more crafty than he does “big.”
Kornet adds a defensive option off the bench to counter bigger lineups. The Bulls were 25th in defensive rating last season at 112 and 26th in blocked shots. The presence of Robin Lopez inside helped keep Chicago decent on defense inside but the team still ranked 17th-overall in opponents points in the paint. In general, a healthy Carter Jr. and Kornet allow for a different look underneath the basket that, at the same time, shouldn’t be sacrificing too much defensive integrity.
Carter Jr. is going to be providing a better match-up for those more speedy and lengthier big men; not to mention, he can switch onto guys way better than Kornet can. However, Kornet should be able to handle those more traditional post-scoring big man that come off the bench.
When taking all of this into consideration, Kornet could be one of the more under-the-radar value signings of this offseason. I don’t necessarily see him having the opportunity to “go off” this season in any games with a healthy Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen on the court, but he could provide some extremely valuable minutes night-in and night-out off the bench. Five Thirty-Eight did an article earlier this offseason (which we wrote about previously), using what they like to call the CARMELO Model to quantify how much a player is actually worth over their given contract.
The Bulls got Kornet for two-years $4.5 million, and the CARMELO Model puts Kornet as a player that can provide $23 million worth of value over that time frame. Yeah, not bad.
With so many new toys on the Bulls roster, I’m not quite sure how much focus will be put on Kornet in the early part of this season. But with the backup options to Carter Jr. limited, there is no doubt he will get a chance to really make an impact in certain games.
I discussed more on Kornet’s fit a few weeks ago, so you can check that out here.