Bulls Weekly Preview: Thunder, Raptors, Spurs, and Trail Blazers — January 24-30, 2022

It can only go up from here. I hope.

Meet the Opponents:

•  1/24 @ Thunder (14-32): Josh Giddey looks like he’s on his way to a third Western Conference Rookie of the Month award.
•  1/26 vs. Raptors (22-22): Scottie Barnes is a pretty good rookie, too; he’s averaging 15-8-4 this season.
•  1/28 @ Spurs (17-30):  Old friend alert! Doug McDermott will be in town with the Spurs.
•  1/30 vs. Trail Blazers (20-26)Robert Covington could really help the Bulls right now…

Bulls Projected Lineup

1. Ayo Dosunmu
2. Coby White
3. DeMar DeRozan
4. Tyler Cook
5. Nikola Vučević

Opponent Projected Lineup

Thunder:

1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
2. Josh Giddey
3. Darius Bazley
4. Luguentz Dort
5. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

Raptors:

1. Fred Van Fleet
2. Gary Trent Jr.
3. OG Anunoby
4. Scottie Barnes
5. Pascal Siakam

Spurs:

1. Dejounte Murray
2. Derrick White
3. Doug McDermott
4. Keldon Johnson
5. Jakob Poeltl

Trail Blazers:

1. Anfernee Simmons
2. C.J. McCollum
3. Nassir Little
4. Robert Covington
5. Jusuf Nurkic

Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week):

Bulls: Patrick Williams OUT (Wrist), Lonzo Ball OUT (knee), Alex Caruso OUT (wrist), Zach LaVine QST (knee), Derrick Jones Jr. OUT (knee), Javonte Green QST (groin)

Thunder: Vit Krejci OUT (ankle), Derrick Favors OUT (back)

Raptors: Goran Dragic OUT (personal), Khem Birch OUT (nose), David Johnson OUT (calf)

Spurs: NONE

Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard OUT (abdominal), Cody Zeller OUT (knee), Larry Nance Jr. OUT (knee), Norman Powell OUT (personal)

Injury updates via ESPN

Four Factors

•   Bulls: 53.8 EFG% (6th), 13.4 TOV% (7th), 24.5 OREB% (29th), .241 FTA RATE (15th)

•   Thunder: 48.1 EFG% (30th), 13.6 TOV% (11th), 25.6 OREB% (26th), .215 FTA RATE (28th)

•   Raptors: 50.1 EFG% (27th), 13.1 TOV% (5th), 33.2 OREB% (1st), .223 FTA RATE (24th)

•   Spurs: 51.9 EFG% (21st), 12.6 TOV% (2nd), 28.1 OREB% (9th), .200 FTA RATE (30th)

•   Trail Blazers: 52.6 EFG% (14th), 14.2 TOV% (16th), 27.0 OREB% (15th), .257 FTA RATE (3rd)

What to Watch For …

Bulls: Things can’t get much worse than they’ve been the last two weeks, right? First, it was the ESPN laughers against Brooklyn and Golden State two weeks ago that featured a scare for Zach LaVine. Then, the Bulls went 1-3 last week and learned that Lonzo Ball would undergo knee surgery and Alex Caruso would have wrist surgery, severely depleting the Bulls backcourt depth. Fortunately, Zach LaVine and Javonte Green are on the mend to lend some help to a shell of the Bulls’ former self that looked about as lifeless as humanly possible in a stinker against Orlando last night.

Thunder: It’s Billy Donovan’s old squad to open the week with the Bulls desperate for a victory after a miserable two-week stretch. Oklahoma City seems like the perfect bounce-back game for the Bulls. But, then again, so did Orlando. The Bulls have a bad habit of playing down to teams that they should mop the gym with, even when they were healthy. Let’s hope the Bulls can shake that tendency and take advantage of the Thunder to start the week on a positive note.

Raptors: The Toronto Raptors lead the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage (33.2%), and that’s not great for the Bulls, who have been getting killed on the glass and in the paint. Keep an eye on Scottie Barnes in this one. The six-foot-nine rookie power forward averages 15 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per contest this season for Toronto. Barnes and Pascal Siakam can give the Bulls fits down low, and Fred Van Fleet is always a threat to score 30.

Spurs: This isn’t the type of team that we’re used to seeing when we think about the San Antonio Spurs of the past two decades, but it’s still a Greg Popovich coached team, so they’re going to do the little things right despite the void of star-power on the roster. San Antonio’s 12.6% turnover rate is the second-best mark in the league, and they check in at No. 9 in the offensive rebounding department. The Spurs take care of the ball, and they rebound well.

Trail Blazers: No Damian Lillard for the Blazers this time around, but Anfernee Simmons has been averaging 19 points per game since the beginning of December, and Jusuf Nurkic gave the Bulls a tough time when they last met in Portland in November. Remember when the Bulls traded Nurkic on draft night for Doug McDermott? Fun times.

Question of the week …

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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