*Takes massive deep breath:* THE NBA SEASON STARTS TOMORROW!!!!
• The Warriors-Nets and Lakers-Clippers matchups will tip-off the regular season tomorrow night on TNT. Then, one day later, the Chicago Bulls will battle the Atlanta Hawks in what is the most highly-anticipated NBA game in two decades (this claim has been disputed). The Bulls finished the preseason on a rocky note, as their starting crew fell behind big to a rather underwhelming Thunder group. However, I feel comfortable saying there were still plenty of promising signs sprinkled in throughout the team’s first four games. Finding the best rotation and avoiding turnovers in a new system will likely lead to a relatively bumpy start, but when this team is in the flow of their new scheme – particularly on offense – they look like one of the more fun-to-watch rotations in the Eastern Conference.
Two. More. Days. pic.twitter.com/gK1DBXzDzj
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 21, 2020
• With that said, “fun to watch” doesn’t necessarily mean “more likely to win games.” I’m still not exactly sure where this Bulls team will land in the standings this season, but my guess would be somewhere around the last play-in tournament spot (the 10-seed). I mean, feel comfortable saying this squad is better than the Pistons, Cavaliers, and Knicks, but then things get pretty complicated. The Hornets, Wizards, Hawks, and Magic are all confusing teams. I could honestly see the Bulls near the top of that bunch just as easily as I could see them at the bottom. Only time will tell.
• I will say this, the team tips-off their season against the Atlanta Hawks, and I wasn’t too impressed with what I saw from that revamped group this preseason. The talent-boost is undeniable, but it will likely take some time for them to build the right chemistry. Could the Bulls take advantage of that and walk away with a win Wednesday night? Maybe.
• Today is the day. If the Bulls want to lock-up Lauri Markkanen for the long-haul, a deal must be signed in the next handful of hours. At this rate, it certainly feels like Markkanen will head into the season with an unclear future. I just hope that can give him the “chip on his shoulder” mentality rather than the “I guess I’m not worth it” mentality.
Reminder: Today is the Deadline for the Bulls to Sign Lauri Markkanen to an Extensionhttps://t.co/OjLewyWtrL
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 21, 2020
• Bulls will have their free-agent signing for the Wednesday night’s game. Whether or not he cracks the rotation, though, is anyone’s guess.
Garrett Temple said he plans to be available for opener as long as no setbacks. Said he watched film during quarantine to stay up to speed with Donovan’s system and terminology.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 20, 2020
• My ideal 9-man rotation for the season-opener would probably look something like this: Coby White (Tomas Satoransky), Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams (Otto Porter/Chandler Hutchison), Lauri Markkanen (Thad Young), Wendell Carter Jr.
• Young will likely not be ready to hoop (and it’s unclear when he will return), so in that case, I’d throw Gafford into the mix next. Markkanen clocked plenty of minutes at center during the preseason, though, which tells us we should expect to see plenty more of this to start the year. Meanwhile, I threw Hutchison into the mix because I truly think he works really well in Donovan’s new system. We saw it a bit in the preseason, and while Denzel Valentine and Garrett Temple probably deserve a chance to prove their worth, neither will offer the Bulls the same kind of athleticism Hutchison does. And in Donovan’s motion-based offense, that extra athleticism is huge. The 3-point stroke is still a concern, but he does look like one of the team’s better cutters, which is a skillset this offense desperately needs. Plus, this team is bound to struggle on defense, and Hutchison has always had the length to guard both forward positions. Again, I’m fine with other guys getting a chance, but I’ve thought for a while now that a Donovan-Hutchison marriage could work pretty well.
• The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry gave 23 bold predictions for the upcoming season, and I have no doubt all of them will come true (jk), especially this one about Patrick Williams: “Williams will finish third in voting for Rookie of the Year but earn All-Rookie First Team honors.” Ohhhh baby, I’m all-aboard this hype train! We outlined why Williams’ ROY chances aren’t the best last week, but that doesn’t mean he can not be viewed as a top-3 guy first-year player this season. With Otto Porter in the mix, I initially expected the Bulls to ease Williams into things, but all preseason signs point to him playing some big minutes right off the bat. LET THE ROOKE COOK!
• Awesome stuff!
We are partnering with @BMOHarrisBank to launch a program supporting Chicago Black owned businesses.
Our December spotlight: Rachel & Kelley Williams, a mother daughter duo, created @PaigeAndPaxton as a way to fill a gap in STEM education.
More ➡️ https://t.co/mVb6QWSPmS
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 21, 2020