The Bulls preseason is over. Er, well, it will be over once the final buzzer sounds in tonight’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While I’m sure head coach Billy Donovan will use this last contest as a means to get some much-needed answers (like a good head coach … boring), part of me hopes he just says, “screw it, let’s get weird!” I mean, come on, this is the final game that will not impact the win-loss column. Why not throw Patrick Williams in at point guard and let him drop 40? What about signing Benny the Bull to a one-day contract to have him distract the opposing defense with his dance moves? Or just let Zach LaVine try to dunk over every living soul in the game! Hell, have Donovan suit up and channel his Providence days!
GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT.
• I’ll still happily settle for another dominant performance over the Thunder, though. Tonight’s game – again, albeit the preseason – can give us some idea of his disciplined this new squad can be in the regular season. The Bulls have not been good about building off W’s in the past, so another dominant victory could already signify the influence of Donovan’s new culture. More importantly, though, ending the preseason with another big win could give this team the confidence they need to start a relatively difficult early-season schedule. The Hawks, Pacers, Warriors, and Wizards make up the team’s first five matchups (Wizards twice). Then, the Bulls start a ridiculous gauntlet against some of the best teams in the league. Reality will most likely slap them in the face during that brutal stretch, but they can make that slap burn a little less by picking up a couple of quick wins (and rubbing some cortisone on it). In my opinion, none of those first four teams are unbeatable. The Warriors will be the hardest matchup, but the absence of Klay Thompson could give them some growing pains early on. I don’t think the Bulls will start 5-0, but would I be shocked if they came out of the first five games with, say, 3 wins? Nope.
• The Bulls starting lineup felt like a lock for months (Coby White, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr.). However, that all changed on Wednesday when Donovan decided to start 19-year-old Patrick Williams over Porter. One preseason start doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it does tell us that the Bulls coaching staff is thinking about what it might look like to have that group in the regular season. As of now, I still don’t think this is what we’ll see come December 23rd, but only time will tell. Anyway, if Williams can sneak his way into the starting lineup, something tells me his chances at winning Rookie of the Year will go way up.
Can Patrick Williams Sneak Into the Rookie of the Year Conversation?https://t.co/ovV7HN9xP4
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 17, 2020
• I saw some folks surprised that we used “sneak” in the headline above. Look, I’d love to feel like he was a lock to be in the conversation, but it’s just a fact that Williams isn’t currently being considered as a real threat to win the award. I’ve seen several rankings and predictions that do not put the top-5 draft pick in the top-5 most likely to win the trophy. My guess is people do not think he’ll receive enough playing time, let alone enough of a role, to make a real push. To that I say, a lot of what Donovan has done in the preseason might tell us otherwise.
• Darnell Mayberry asked a good question in his latest at The Athletic: Will Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. let it fly in the preseason finale? First of all, give it a read. Second of all (and no one asked for my answer, but I’m going to give it anyway), they absolutely should. I’ve been frustrated with each player’s poor efficiency thus far, however, I can’t deny that they have had some great looks. Donovan clearly prefers that these guys shoot the 3-ball in his new system, and I think that means he has to use this last game to try to get them into a better groove. The beginning of the regular season can also have its fair share of big-man shooting, but if either one can not starting converting at a high clip, the coaching staff is going to have to adjust.
• Another good read …
My assorted notes from Bulls preseason. I lead with the thing that's been on my mind the most: Can Coby White play point guard for the Bulls?
Other short notes on PatWill (obligatory), Donovan, Carter.https://t.co/fTEdbGGQkZ
— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) December 17, 2020
• MORE OF THIS.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 17, 2020
• Blake Griffin is savage.
Blake Griffin smiles at Thomas Bryant after they get into it. pic.twitter.com/bxpbS5tucc
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 18, 2020