Since I write about the Chicago Bulls for a living, I think I’m obligated to type the following line: Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley put the Labor in Labor Day yesterday!
While we were all lazy and enjoying the long weekend, the Bulls front office made calls.
More thoughts to come, but get caught up on the new faces:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) September 7, 2021
• Matt Thomas, Stanley Johnson, and Alize Johnson all reportedly joined this revamped roster on Monday afternoon. Alize is the only player for whom we immediately received contract information, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting a two-year $3.6 million deal for the 25-year-old. For Stanley, it is assumed he will also be a mainstay on this roster over the course of the season, as NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson confirmed his addition as the 14th roster member (prior to Alize taking the 15th spot). The real question now is where does Matt Thomas stand in all of this?
• While Thomas provides a shooting ability this team could use off the bench, the Bulls are a bit stuffed in the frontcourt, and a fully guaranteed contract for Thomas would leave Chicago with 16 names. To get that down to the necessary 15, I am assuming Thomas is either the second two-way contract alongside Devon Dotson or currently a non-guaranteed training camp invite that the front office can further evaluate (before potentially handing the second two-way contract). Either way, I don’t hate the flyer. The Bulls need shooting, and Thomas has at least sat on winning benches the past two seasons in Toronto and Utah. With that said, Stanley and Alize are the two players we should expect to make a more immediate impact on this Bulls team, with our eyes specifically locked on Alize.
On my way to Chicago. MOOD! Let’s work! pic.twitter.com/agwfxXt64H
— Alize Johnson (@AlizeJohnson) September 6, 2021
• Behind Patrick Williams, the Bulls’ big bodies are slim. So although Alize is just on the brink of 6’8″ with an underwhelming wingspan, he can provide a level of physicality, verticality, and rebounding this reinvented roster desperately needs. Of course, never appearing in more than 18 games over his three seasons in the league, our expectations can not be too high for the former undrafted free agent. In fact, this is why I expect the Bulls will still stagger DeRozan at power forward as their first option with the second unit. I also think we will still see plenty of Derrick Jones Jr., as he was a player this front office was rumored to be interested in since their arrival (and he is also a player who has succeeded most in this position over his career).
• We know from last season that head coach Billy Donovan is not afraid to try different combinations until he finds something he feels comfortable with (remember SF Lauri Markkanen? *shivers*), so I expect this backup power forward position to be pretty by-committee to start the year. However, Alize is a low-cost, high-upside role player who has the best shot at stealing the job due to his size and natural aggressiveness. He will get his chance to prove himself, and I’m excited to see what he does with that opportunity.
• Stanley is a defensive-minded forward who stands 6’6″ with a nifty 7’0″ wingspan. Instead of reiterating the basics, I’ll just direct you to our initial post on the signing here. Considering the options left in the open market, and the team’s need for multi-positional defenders, they could have done worse than Stanley. He gives Donovan another versatile option who has appeared in at least 61 games in five of his six seasons in the league. Exactly how much upside is still there for the former No. 8-overall pick is up for debate, but he does seem to possess enough skill on the defensive end to be a rotation player. But the offensive side of the ball is a different story.
• Fortunately, the Bulls will likely ask for much of anything from Johnson on that end of the court. He has shot an underwhelming 37.5 percent from the field and 29.8 behind the arc over his career thus far. Now, if we do want to look for a silver lining, we can point to his final three games over the 2020-21 season. Johnson got plenty of opportunities to simply play his game on the tanking Raptors, and he easily had the best three-game stretch of his career. It all started with a performance – funny enough – against Chicago where he dropped a career-high 35 points on a career-high six makes from downtown. The performance was also Stanley’s first double-double since the 2017-18 season, and he followed that up with another against the Mavericks (15/10). In his final game of the year, Stanley had 24 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.
• Should this be any indication of what he can do in Chicago? No, not at all. Stanley ate 40 minutes per game and shot the ball an average of 18.7 times per game over the span. But it’s still encouraging to see him drain a couple of shots from deep and gain a little more confidence driving to the rim.
• With both Johnsons not expected to add much on the offensive end, it leaves me believing this front office is still high on Coby White’s potential as a lethal sparkplug sixth man. Again, I expect someone in the starting lineup to see minutes with the second unit (probably DeRozan), but White remains the only “shooter” off the bench for this team (sans Matt Thomas, I guess). And, if the front office was to put a bulk of the second unit offense on White, it worries me a bit. I think he will be more than capable in the future, but we still have no idea how quickly he will return to his former self coming off this shoulder injury.
• Fun Fact Alert:
Bulls with the same surname to appear in the same game at least once:
Brandon & JaKarr Sampson 2018-19
Tim & Tyrus Thomas – 2008-09
Corey & Scott Williams – 1992-93
Charles & Caldwell Jones* – 1984-85
Mickey & Ollie Johnson – 1978-79
* – brothers
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) September 6, 2021
• Don’t forget to follow our Bears coverage with the season starting up this week!
Happy Game Week! Let’s Sort Through the First 2021 Chicago Bears Depth Chart of the Regular Seasonhttps://t.co/clpAB3Pb2U
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) September 7, 2021