Those ESPN Rankings ... Yikes, How LaVine Can Improve, Williams' Usage, I-L-L, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Those ESPN Rankings … Yikes, How LaVine Can Improve, Williams’ Usage, I-L-L, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I realized this morning that I have a shirt and winter hat with the phrase “Fa La La La Llama” written on them. My gut tells me this is one too many holiday-themed llama products to own.

•   The guys over at ESPN were pounding Malort and throwing darts at a board to make the ESPN Top-100 rankings, and I refuse to believe otherwise. Not only did we get the blasphemous ranking of Lonzo Ball ahead of Zach LaVine, but the Top-50 released on Wednesday feels all kinds of whack. Check it out for yourself:

https://twitter.com/espn/status/1336679785477656576?s=20

•   I said I wasn’t going to waste any more of my time picking this list apart after a brief rant yesterday. However, I do want to make one more generalized point on player rankings. What the hell do we value? Is it scoring? Is it fame? Is it potential? Being transparent about that question is key when making any kind of organization list, especially one of this magnitude. For me, I think about these rankings in terms of past and present. The future is what will ultimately move someone up or down. In other words, I don’t think Zion Williamson should be considered a top-20 player right now. Can he get there by the end of the season? Absolutely. Additionally, I don’t think Trae Young should be ranked ahead of a 2019-20 All-NBA player in Russell Westbrook. Donovan Mitchell outside of teh top-15 also doesn’t sit well with me (but I am known to be quite the Mitchell stan). Whatever. At the end of the day, these kind of rankings are all arbitrary and best suited to stir the pot. So, in that case, ESPN did a fantastic job. Congrats.

•   Do you think the Bulls saw the list?

•   I’m very curious to see what LaVine’s stat-line is at the end of the season. I think too many are expecting him to continue his upward momentum in the points per game category, but I’m honestly not sure that will happen. The only way I see LaVine improving his 25 points per game mark is if he vastly improves his free-throw shooting numbers. Running the show alongside Coby White, as well as involved someone like Wendell Carter Jr. more on the offensive end, will likely cut into his shot attempts. I don’t think we will see any kind of massive drop-off, but Donovan will likely be far more proactive about feeding other mouths.

•   And how about Patrick Williams? With such a fast turnaround between the draft and season, the expectation is that most rookies will be slowly sprinkled into the picture. However, the Bulls rookie has garnered a lot of praise from his teammates, and Donovan has also been rather kind to rookie playing time in the past. The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry talks more about William’s immediate role and playing time, check it out. The popular belief seems to be that Williams’ best contribution will come on the defensive end, thanks to his ability to guard multiple positions. Although, I don’t think he’ll necessarily be some kind of afterthought on offense, especially if the rotation ends up how many of us imagine. With White moving to the starting spot, that leaves the second unit with an obvious lack of impact scoring. I foresee a bump in Tomas Satoransky’s aggressiveness, but that unit will have to find offense elsewhere, as well. Williams has flashed better ball-handling and shooting than expected in workout/practice footage (which, of course, is WAY different than an actual game), so I’ll be watching closely to see how fast this can translate into the Bulls’ gameplan.

•   Get ready for some casual coaching!

•   I know the NBA’s new rules call for business casual, but if they’re willing to drop from suits to polos, who’s to say the next step isn’t khakis to joggers!? I want to see Billy Donovan on the bench in a tank top and Christmas pajama pants by the time we’re said and done.

•   Speaking of Christmas … lol.

•   No part of me wants to relieve 2020 … but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t going to be in my DVR on the 24th.

•   I-L-L

https://twitter.com/IlliniMBB/status/1336550749703196672?s=20



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.