The annual NBA GM Survey may not mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but it does give us at least some kind of idea about where an organization stands within the industry and various league circles. Even we can all admit that the Bulls are a confusing team at the beginning of an organizational restructuring (from the front office to the coaching staff to the roster), and I think that point is only reinforced by the 2020-21 edition of the survey.
To jump right into thing, here is how the franchise was represented …
Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2020-21?
1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (15% of votes)
2. Michael Porter Jr. (15%)
3. De’Aaron Fox (12%)
4. Devin Booker (8%)
5. Zion Williams (8%)
Received votes: Lauri Markkanen (as well as 10 other players)
Thoughts: Markkanen finished tied for the 4th-most votes in last season’s survey, so this would be yet another step back backward for The Finnisher. And yet … it’s still somewhat reassuring to his name in the conversation, right? Hell, after a career-worst season, a “breakout” classification may have even become a bit easier to achieve. I think this just demonstrates that the Bulls are not alone in believing there is still a very high ceiling for the versatile seven-footer. How much they truly believe he can break through that ceiling, though, will be tested over the next few days. The deadline for the team to extend Markkanen is December 21st. If they choose to wait until next season, where he can become a restricted free agent, maybe that GM who gave Markkanen some love will make things hard on the Bulls *eyeball emojis.*
Which rookie will be the best player in five years?
1. James Wiseman (36%)
2. LaMelo Ball (25%)
3. Anthony Edwards (14%)
4. Patrick Williams (11%)
5. Isaac Okoro (7%)
Thoughts: Finally, some damn respect! Williams did not receive a single vote for most likely to win Rookie of the Year in the survey, but I guess that does not mean others around the league do not have high expectations for the 19-year-old. In a lot of ways, this is the section that’s far more valuable than the ROY conversation because it tells us that other big NBA minds would not be surprised Williams became the best player in this class, and isn’t that ultimately the goal of any draft? Also, this probably reaffirms the fact that several other teams around the league expected Williams to go as high as he did on draft night. If GM’s have this much faith in the rookie, the talk that several were reportedly interested in trading up for him was probably valid. In other words, we should probably avoid calling this pick a “reach” for Chicago.
Which new or relocated head coach will make the biggest impact on his new team?
1. Steve Nash (28%)
2. Doc Rivers (24%)
3. Tyronn Lue (16%)
4. Stan Van Gundy (16%)
t-5. Billy Donovan (8%)
t-5. Tom Thibodeau
Thoughts: Considering all other teams listed ahead of Donovan are thought to make the playoffs, I’d consider this a win. To be sure, that is not me saying we should expect the same from the Bulls, but rather that people view Donovan as a playoff-caliber coach. The organization’s hire is clearly a respected one around the league, and that’s great news for a franchise in desperate need of a facelift on the court and in the public eye.
Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people?
1. Erik Spoelstra (32%)
2. Gregg Popovich (21%)
3. Steve Kerr (18%)
4. Doc Rivers (11%)
5. Michael Malone (7%)
Received Votes: Billy Donovan, Tom Thibodeau, Frank Vogel
Thoughts: Look, this basically says Donovan is considered a top-8 player-coach in the league, and I’m elated to hear that. The most successful teams in today’s league are run by a coach with strong player relationships. The Bulls decision to go out of their way to get Donovan further demonstrates that they’re finally fitting with the times. And, as pointed out above, this should only improve their overall image around the league. I know the Bulls have never been a free agent destination, but things like this can play a vital role in finally changing that.
Which active player will make the best head coach someday?
1. Chris Paul (36%)
2. Rajon Rondo (29%)
t-3. Udonis Haslem (7%)
t-3. Garrett Temple (7%)
Thoughts: The Chicago Bulls signed Garrett Temple exactly for this reason. He is a highly-respect veteran around the league, and adds another coach-like presence to this young roster.
Where did the Bulls miss the mark?
The most glaring absence for Chicago came under the “most promising young cores” category. In the 2019-20 addition, the group at least received votes, but another underwhelming season removed their name from the hat entirely. Perhaps Billy Donovan can make some GM’s eat their votes, but I also think we all know the Bulls are on the verge of changing up this roster anyway. Why? Most likely because this young core just isn’t what we once thought it was. Bummer.