Beating an "It's Only ..." Team, Playing Selfless Basketball, Williams' Starting Debut, Frontcourt Issues, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Beating an “It’s Only …” Team, Playing Selfless Basketball, Williams’ Starting Debut, Frontcourt Issues, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

*sips coffee*

Time to write words.

•   Last season, the Chicago Bulls were one of the “it’s only …” teams. It’s when one team beats another team so bad that a fan base gets super excited, thus provoking a handful of people to kindly (#sarcasm) tweet out, “it’s only the Bulls.” Last night, Chicago pummelled Oklahoma City into a 124-103 loss. While it may be the preseason, many would agree that the Bulls team on the court last night played some of its best-looking basketball in years. But, thanks to a full-blown rebuild, the Thunder are expected to take a major step backward this season in terms of their competitiveness, so out came the, “it’s only the Thunder” tweets. Look, I get it, but I don’t think when you were one of the “it’s only” teams one season ago, that the “it’s only” phrase should necessarily be used against you. In other words, the Bulls showed us last night that they might (still preseason, obviously) be able to do something they could not do last season – beat the teams they are supposed to beat.

•   Remember how the Bulls started last season with losses to the Hornets, Cavaliers, and Knicks? In fact, they lost to the Hornets and Knicks twice, as well as the Golden State Warriors. And remember how you wanted to punch a hole through the TV before laying in the fetal position and moaning? Yeah, well, many around the NBA believed the Bulls could beat those teams last season … until they didn’t. Heading into the 2020-21 campaign, the Oklahoma City Thunder will be one of those teams, and if the Bulls can do what they did last night against them in the regular season, that’s certainly demonstrating some improvement. In general, I just do not think Bulls fans are currently in a position to degrade any win, even those that come in the preseason.

•   Also, seriously, just look how well they played!

•   Even though Zach LaVine and Coby White each scored 20+ last night, that game felt like some of the most unselfish basketball we’ve seen this team play. These young players are clearly starting to become a bit more confident in Billy Donovan’s motion offense. Finishing out the regular season against this less-than-stellar Thunder team should only help because, while it’s nice to practice against tougher opponents, games like this can also give the team an opportunity to see their offense work. What that does is then help with buy-in and comfort level.

•   The Bulls frontcourt duo of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. are still trying to find their way on the offensive end. Carter Jr.’s shot struggled to fall yet again, but he did dish out 3 assists and finish with a +15 on the night. Markkanen also made up for another poor shooting performance (4-15 FG, 2-9 3PT) by hauling in 9 rebounds and picking up two assists of his own. Don’t get me wrong, the Bulls obviously prefer that these two begin to carry a larger share of the scoring load, but on the nights when the backcourt is embarrassing the defense (like last night), the Bulls can settle for Markkanen and Carter Jr. doing the little things.

•   Also, it doesn’t hurt when the 19-year-old rookie is helping out! Williams may not have put together any kind of breakout performance in his first preseason start, but he continued to look like me in my Elf onesie – comfortable.

•   Even better, Donovan’s decision to move Otto Porter to the bench in favor of Williams paid off for the second unit. The veteran presence hauled in 12 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, and scored 8 points. I’d be very curious to see what that second group would look like with Satoransky back in the mix. Porter’s assists numbers would surely go down, but perhaps he would find some easier shots. Considering Satoransky isn’t likely to join the team until the regular season, though, I’m not sure when we will get a chance to see this in action. Unless Donovan really starts the 19-year-old rookie at the beginning of the season?

•   The preseason caveat is an important one here, but this is still a very good point.

•   Look, the Bulls will hopefully be way more fun teams this season, but more fun to watch doesn’t necessarily equate to more wins. As of now, most would be that Chicago finishes with another lottery pick next season, so it is worth keeping an eye on the current 2021 class. The draft is set to be far more stacked than in 2020, and Bleacher Report has already provided us with a Big Board to chew on. Check it out.

•   Good for the Gaff Attack!

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Author: Elias Schuster

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