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Chicago Bulls

Did you wake up with an extra pep in their step this morning? Me neither, Tuesdays suck. 

But I am still extremely excited to see Chicago Bulls basketball return at 7:00 p.m. CT tonight! The new starting lineup (minus the injured Patrick Williams) should eat plenty of minutes over these next couple of preseason games as they try to build chemistry ahead of an October 20th matchup with the Detroit Pistons. Likewise, the more this group plays the more we will start to understand exactly how Billy Donovan plans to run things on both sides of the ball this season.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are plenty of reasons to watch, and we talked about a handful of those reasons in our preseason preview on Monday.

•   Our eyes will be on the lookout for Lonzo lobs and DeRozan dunks, but it will be hard not to get distracted by the seven-foot sharpshooting elephant in the room. While it appears to be utter coincidence, the Bulls’ first “game” of this new era will be against failed-cornerstone Lauri Markkanen (that sounds harsher than I meant it, sorry). The 24-year-old finally reached a four-year, $67 million deal with the Cavaliers via sign-and-trade after several weeks stuck in free agency limbo. Everything publicly shared between the Bulls and Markkanen about the departure has been nothing short of professional, but we all know this guy has to have a chip on his shoulder. I’ll be very curious to see how aggressive he looks back at the United Center tonight.

•   Also, I’ll be honest, I’m a tiny bit concerned about this season’s matchup with the Cavaliers. I know that feels odd to say after the significant offseason this team had, but Cleveland is arguably strongest in the area where Chicago is weakest. Between Markkanen, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Kevin Love, and Tacko Fall, the Cavaliers are dripping with frontcourt size. Allen and Mobely, specifically, projected to be quite the gifted rim-protectors. The Bulls might have the best big man in Nikola Vucevic, but with Tony Bradley and an unproven Marko Simonovic as the only players above 6’10” on the roster, they are going to have hope small-ball throws this Cavs team for a loop. With that said, I guess it’s actually a good thing the Bulls play this Cavaliers team twice in the preseason. They will get two opportunities to see how they stack up against elite size before any results go up on the board. It should be a great learning experience.

•   Speaking of former Bulls big men … OH NO, WENDELL!

•   I don’t think there is any individual I’m more interested in watching tonight than Lonzo Ball. As the new long-term lead guard for this offense, the weight will be on his shoulders to efficiently jumpstart this “faster” offense the Chicago Bulls clearly want to run. Not to mention, he told reporters during Media Day that he expects to play a more traditional point guard role, so I will be fascinated to see just how much halfcourt work he really does with a more ball-dominant, pick-and-roll playmaker next to him in DeMar DeRozan.

•   The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry did a preseason Q&A that is worth your read.

•   One thing I couldn’t help but think about while reading Mayberry’s post is just how wide the seeding spectrum is for this Bulls team. Some optimistic Bulls fans want to throw this squad as high as 4th in the Eastern Conference (THE  KNICKS DID IT!), while some pessimistic analysts have dropped them outside the play-in tournament. All things considered, the Bulls have to be one of the more polarizing teams in the league. And I get it. The organization added a lot of big-name talent, but this talent also is not the most proven winning talent. The question about whether or not three former No. 1 scorers can co-exist on offense and not be an absolute disaster on defense is also fair. But, again, maybe this preseason can help give us some of the answers we need and help tighten the national perception of this team.

•   Vucevic going after Certified Radier Fan Zach LaVine.

•   It’s about damn time.

•   Uh, I have a feeling the Suns should just pay the man.

•   butwhy.gif

•   That’s what training camp is for!

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.