The NBA officially announced plans for a 2020-21 NBA G-League season on Friday afternoon, and the games are slated to take place in a very familiar venue: ESPN’s Wide World of Sports located at Disney World Resorts in Orlando will become yet another bubble site.
At the beginning of February, the G-League plans to run a 15-game season that will result in the top eight teams participating in a single-elimination playoff tournament. Only 18 teams are listed to play this season, and an important name not on that list is the Windy City Bulls.
t-minus 1 month pic.twitter.com/aZ2wRzabF3
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) January 8, 2021
The Bulls organization will be joined by the Celtics, Bucks, Hawks, Heat, Wizards, Pistons, Suns, Lakers, Mavericks, Trail Blazers, Kings, and Thunder as having no representation inside the bubble (Note: the Nuggets and Blazers do not have their own G-League affiliate).
Is it just me, or does this feel like an odd (and bad) choice by the Bulls brass? While they have not had the best pool of G-League talent to evaluate over the past couple of seasons, this new front office has preached nothing but player development since taking over. So, why wouldn’t participating in this bubble be a priority? The season is also only 15 games (plus playoffs), so the Bulls could look to further evaluate two-way talent Adam Mokoka and Devon Dotson while also still giving them a good chunk of time with the big league roster this season.
Now, for what it’s worth, the NBA’s press release does indicate that the Bulls can still send these players into the bubble by assigning them to a different team’s roster, so there is that.
NBA teams without an NBA G League affiliate participating in Orlando will have the opportunity to assign roster players and transfer Two-Way players using the league’s flexible assignment and Two-Way rules. The full list of the 17 participating NBA G League teams is below.
Still, I don’t understand why they just wouldn’t send a full squad to Orlando. The Bulls now can not use this time to further develop or evaluate standard G-League talent, and that truly feels weird considering everything this new franchise has discussed. The only understandable reason I could think to skip is that they don’t feel prepared internally. Damian Cotter – 2019-20 Windy City Bulls head coach – joined Billy Donovan’s coaching staff this offseason. Perhaps there were other moves made inside the G-League walls as well, and therefore the organization feels as if the infrastructure is not sound enough to pull off this extended bubble stay.
The other reason for not participating would be that ownership did not want to pay for it, and if that is the case, it would be all kinds of frustrating.
Anyway, if you still want a rooting interest, I’ll recommend team “Ignite.” They are not a specific affiliate, but rather a new G-League team created to foster elite, draft-eligible NBA prospects. Some of the best players of the 2021 draft class will be on full display and considering the Bulls could very well finish with another lottery pick this season, it might be worth our while to scout the talent.