A Great Blend of Athleticism and IQ, Lonzo and LaVine, and Other Bulls Bullets

Last night, the significant other and I threw a little October 1st get-together. A couple of friends came over to bring in Spooky Season with a viewing of the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus.

For a 90s kid, the film offers two things: (1) A much-needed dose of nostalgia and (2) a pretty superb drinking game!

If you need the rules, hit me up. I gotchu.

•   In between my sips of Oktoberfest beer last night, I found myself thinking about how ridiculously athletic Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have made this Bulls roster. Zach LaVine is a human highlight reel; Patrick Williams is a superhuman at the age of 20; Lonzo Ball possesses an elite mixture of size and speed, and DeMar DeRozan has a beautiful blend of craftiness and aggressiveness. Then, let’s think about what this team did around the margins. Reserves like Otto Porter, Denzel Valentine, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Chandler Hutchison have been replaced with Alex Caruso (crazy POA defense and sneaky hops), Derrick Jones Jr. (one of the highest flyers in the league), Troy Brown Jr. (a high-upside renaissance man), and Javonte Green (versatile defender). If the goal was to add multi-positional players that can run up and down the floor, it has been accomplished.

•   What makes this roster truly intriguing, however, is the combination of athleticism and basketball IQ. While some of the reserves may still rely heavily on their gifted build, players like Ball, DeRozan, LaVine, and Caruso add much-needed “court smarts.” Not to mention, Nikola Vucevic might be one of the wisest players in the league at his position. The expert playmaking these guys possess on the offensive end (with the exception of Caruso, who does his work on the opposite side of the ball) coupled with years of experience makes this whole thing so fascinating. It’s also what makes me feel even more confident they can make things fit.

•   Ball (still just 23 years old, by the way) might just be the smartest player on this roster. In fact, at times, it feels as if he should be capable of even more with his strong positional size and ball-handling capabilities. But this high-IQ is why the signing felt so damn perfect this offseason. He is a player who recognizes his teammate’s strengths, pushes the pace, and keeps the offense in motion (taking a ton of pressure of LaVine). This court vision and playmaking is something he prides himself on, and he said as much when speaking with NBC Sports Chicago on Media Day.

Every year it gets easier to play for me. I think just coming into the league you want to do, but sometimes I think it’s better to work smarter not harder. For me, just taking what the defense gives me and get the guys the best shot possible.

•   I still don’t think Ball will play as traditional of a point guard role as some seem to believe, but I also don’t find that to be a bad thing. He is capable of wearing several different hats and filling almost whatever role best suits the team, and that is part of what makes him such an intriguing talent.

•   I also love what Ball told NBC Sports Chicago about playing alongside LaVine.

“I’ve been talking to Zach for a while. I’ve known him since UCLA. He has been getting better every year as you can see. He is an All-Star, one of the best perimeter players in the league. For him, I think he just wanted someone to come here and get him a little bit easier shots. He takes a lot of tough shots – not to say he doesn’t make them or not – but it would be nice for him to spread the lane and get an open shot here and there.”

•   How much would Ben Simmons pay to leave Philly? $8.25 million … and counting.

•   We talked about how big of a test this will be for head coach Billy Donovan the other day, but the quotes he shared with K.C. Johnson yesterday make me feel all the more confident he will pass with flying colors.

•   I mean this in the nicest way possible: Sometimes Donovan says a whole lot of nothing. He is really good a dragging out answers to the point where it sounds like he is giving us a ton of great information, but he is really just repeating one thought in ten different ways. With that said, I did not find the story above to be one of those times. The head coach said a lot of interesting things about how he builds relationships, and it helped me understand even more why he has built such a strong reputation in that department.

•   Me and Chance of something in common. We’re both millionaire rappers, duh. 

https://twitter.com/ESPNNBA/status/1444095325396996100?s=20

•   Vooch is such a nerd … and I love it.

•   Uh, that sounds painful.

•   The latter.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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