LaVine’s Next Step, Markkanen’s Consistency, Some Joakim Noah Love, and Other Bulls Bullets

Note to self: Stop waiting so long to get a haircut that, once you finally do, you startle myself in the bathroom mirror. Sorry, I needed to write that down somewhere.

Now, let’s talk about that bouncy orange ball!

•   If it didn’t feel like Bulls basketball was back before, it certainly does now. The first day of training camp tipped-off yesterday with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Billy Donovan, and Arturas Karnisovas all sitting down for extended interviews. While each sold their own brand of optimism for the 2020-21 season, they all expressed similar excitement in the franchise’s new era that began this offseason. All things considered, Donovan and Karnisovas were the most valuable listens of the day. Both were refreshingly boring in their remarks (ya know, instead of totally enraging), and for more info on what each had to say, you can click here (Donovan) or here (Karisovas).

•   I’ll say this, Zach LaVine certainly sounds like a superstar. The way he has carried himself in interviews over the past year or so has been admirable. He is easily the best interview on the team right now, and he never fails to show the right mix of confidence and candor. With that said, it’s one thing to talk like a superstar, and it’s another to be a superstar. LaVine hasn’t even reached the “All-Star” level yet, and he’ll have to continue his steady improvement yet again this season to hope he reaches it. What would that next step look like? Well, added effort on the defensive end and more help in the playmaking department would help. LaVine mentioned both areas in his conversation with reporters on Tuesday, so let’s hope he can turn those words into actions.

•   What you’re about to read is what the kids call “shade:”

•   In several ways, this offseason, the Bulls truly became the exact opposite of who they used to be. Whether or not it will remain that way with this same ownership group at the helm is a question that can only be answered at a later date. The Bulls were an organization that relied on the same infrastructure for roughly 20 years. In other words, they were stuck in their ways, and they became the epitome of predictable (when [insert player here] got hurt … ). All signs point to this new front office working in a rather unpredictable manner as well as an ever-changing one. Donovan is known for his ability to adapt to differing line-ups, and Karnisovas demonstrated plenty of times in his previous organization that he isn’t afraid to move roster pieces around. The change thus far may be coming in waves, but it should be far more consistent than in years past.

•   Lauri Markkanen is like my old dog Jack, he just won’t let me love him. The lack of any real consistency has made the ride with Markkanen a queasy one. Many NBA analysts around the league agree that the 23-year-old has an All-Star-caliber skillset, but every time we’ve seen the big man tap into it … BOOM … he has 7 points and 4 rebounds. Fortunately, Markkanen seems to know that consistency has been arguably his greatest weakness, which means hopefully it’s something he will confront head-on over the next few weeks.

•   In other BIG Markkanen news …

•   At the end of the day, I just hope the Bulls can approach the start of this new season the same way one would approach a mini-golf date with their crush: Just don’t embarrass yourself. The plan isn’t necessarily to look way better than your competition, but it also isn’t to smack the ball of the gnome’s nose and into a baby stroller (which, thankful, doesn’t contain a baby at the time). The real goal is to simply look competent and leave your date believing there is something there.

•   While it’s not yet official, it appears that Bulls legend Joakim Noah is headed toward retirement. The man was truly a one of a kind NBA personality, and the response to his potential retirement over Twitter demonstrated the kind of impact he had on this league. Let’s wrap up these bullets with some Joakim love:

https://twitter.com/johnhollinger/status/1334116736455618560?s=20

 

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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