Hmm, I can’t help but feel like there is something important about today.
It’s Christmas Eve Eve? No. That’s not it.
We are officially nine days away from 2020 being over? Eh, nope.
It’s the anniversary of that time you first tried New England Clam Chowder? Close, but no cigar.
OH WAIT – THERE WE GO!
𝐀𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰 𝐮𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 23, 2020
WAKE UP THE BULLS SEASON STARTS TODAY!https://t.co/Fz43zHD263
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 23, 2020
• Yes, it’s largely the same team as last season. And, sure, the projected win column isn’t all that inspiring. But Chicago Bulls basketball is back, and in a year that can be described only as perfectly awful, I’ll happily welcome this team back in my life with open arms. It also does not hurt that for the first time in nearly 20 years, the organization decided to go in an entirely new direction. New front office leaders Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have a lot of work to do before we can feel confident that consistent winning days are ahead, but, boy, do I feel far more confident about their ability to do that work than the previous regime.
• Tonight is truly the beginning of this process. While this new brain trust has made organizational changes and coaching staff adjustments, we all know what matters most is the product on the court. Karnisovas has said he plans to evaluate the current talent in place before deciding how to proceed. In my opinion, that’s more than fair, especially when we consider the fact that the Bulls have several intriguing talents under the age of 25. These guys deserve a chance to prove their worth under a more sound infrastructure. I mean, how would we feel if Kanrisovas just sold low on Wendell Carter Jr. for the sake of change only to see him thrive in his new home? Probably not so good.
• At the same time, I want to continue to see signs of change as the season goes on. The last thing we want is to end up in another situation where below-average results are normalized year in and year out. I might expect below-average results again this season, but that’s simply because this season is meant to be used to ensure seasons like it don’t happen again. If that makes sense? Now is the time to finally learn what works and doesn’t work about the team that’s in place. Then, once those decisions are made, this front office must be proactive about fixing things (i.e. if they decide a certain player ain’t it … try to trade him).
• Ok, let’s talk about the here and now. The Chicago Bulls will battle the Atlanta Hawks in their first regular-season contest since March 10th later tonight. All things considered, you could ask for a much tougher opponent to tip-off the season, especially when we consider some of the injury trouble this Atlanta team is currently dealing with.
An @emoryhealthcare injury report for tomorrow’s game (2/2):
K. Dunn (cartilage disruption, right knee): Out
O. Okongwu (inflammation, sesamoid bone, left foot): Out
R. Rondo (health and safety protocols): Out
T. Snell (inflammation, cuboid bone, right foot): Out pic.twitter.com/C4n5CL22h6
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) December 22, 2020
• Not only will the Bulls not have to deal with Kris Dunn’s perimeter defense, but pesky veteran Rajon Rondo is also now a scratch from the contest. The fact that Clint Capela is also listed as doubtful certainly does not hurt the Bulls chances of giving this improved Hawks team a run for their money on opening night.
• And while the Hawks get a little more banged-up, the Bulls have only gotten healthier. Denzel Valentine and Garrett Temple should be ready to go after missing all of the preseason. Even more importantly, Tomas Satoransky has rejoined the team after being sent home before the previous two preseason contests due to NBA COVID-19 Protocols. He has some catching up to do, but NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson shared that the Bulls back-up point guard will not rule out playing for the team on a limited basis tonight. Good. Not only is Satoransky a solid security blanket in case Coby White struggles to lead the offense, but he’s also arguably the second unit’s best assists. With that in mind, I would not be surprised if head coach Billy Donovan does opt to have Otto Porter come off the bench in hope that he can be the other grounding force that the second squad needs (after all, veteran big man Thaddeus Young is also out indefinitely).
• Johnson agrees in his latest mailbag that Patrick Williams will likely see the start tonight over Porter. Considering the man was drafted on November 18th, had zero summer league preparation, and has only been able to practice with his entire team since December 6th, that would be quite the statement. Not only would it tell us how much this organization believes in the youngest NCAA prospect drafted, but also how impressive he has been behind the scenes.
• The Rockets situation is messier than a Ricobene’s breaded steak sandwich.
Source: Rockets are working with NBA office to review video of James Harden at a strip club. If the video circulating on social media is verified to be recent, it is a violation of league's COVID protocols, which would put Harden's availability for tonight's opener in jeopardy.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 23, 2020
• Gotta ask better questions, Chuck.
Chuck's face after KD's short answer 😭
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 23, 2020