Starting the Season With a Challenge, Zach LaVine's Rank, a Star-Studded Pro-AM, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Starting the Season With a Challenge, Zach LaVine’s Rank, a Star-Studded Pro-AM, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Well, it sure looks like the Chicago Sky came out craving some revenge.

  • The Chicago Bulls were handed the toughest schedule of any playoff team from last season, and we need to look no further than the first 12 games of the year to see just that. Six of those contests will come against previous top-5 finishers in the East, while two others will come against the pesky Cavaliers and possible Durant-led Nets. So … yeah … I think it’s fair to say an 8-4 start might be a little bit more difficult this time around.
  • Don’t get me wrong, I certainly think there are advantages to starting off with a challenging slate. Not only will this group become battle-tested early on, but we’ll know immediately whether or not they learned something from their struggles against playoff-caliber teams last season. With that said, building early-season momentum seemed to have its own benefits for the Bulls last year. They used that hot start against a light schedule to build plenty of on-court confidence and chemistry. And I’d much rather have this group work out kinks against the Pistons than the Heat.
  • It’s also possible the injury excuse will still be around. I’d much rather have the Bulls face this kind of stretch with their starting point guard on the floor, and whether or not Lonzo Ball will be ready for the start of the season remains unclear. The hope was that this team could come into a new year asking far fewer “what if” questions. If Ball isn’t ready to go, however, the process of learning what this team is truly capable of will be further delayed.
  • Where would you rank Zach LaVine heading into this season?
  • HoopsHype ranked the top shooting guards for 2022-23 earlier this offseason, and they put LaVine at No. 4 behind Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, and Jaylen Brown. While I can understand Mitchell coming in ahead of him due to more proven playoff success, I think the two are pretty close when it comes to their offensive gifts (and LaVine has the athletic edge). As for Brown, the mix of his recent Finals trip and defensive capabilities is a justifiable reason to put him near the top of the list. Having said that, I think this top-4 is subject to change almost every month.
  • Would I be shocked if a fully healthy LaVine ended up as easily a top-2 shooting guard in the league this season? Absolutely not. When fully healthy, LaVine is as good as any three-level scorer in the league. If he can even begin to play average on the defensive end – which he’s shown glimpses of in the past – we’re talking about someone who is undoubtedly an All-NBA player. Heck, he was already on the trajectory while still playing relatively poor defense before his knee injury. At the end of the day, this is why the Bulls didn’t hesitate to hand him that max deal this summer. We’re talking about someone who looks prime to become a top-2 player at his position, and we all know that’s a talent worth paying in this league.
  • One of the best Pro-Am’s in quite some time will take place tonight.
  • Again, I want to give a shoutout to DeMar DeRozan for helping put the Pro-Am circuit back on the NBA’s radar. I know players participate every year but rarely do we see players that are this famous take the court multiple times over the summer. I think DeRozan – an All-NBA Second Team member – helped remind everyone how fun and important participating in these events can be.
  • The Bulls check in with the ninth-highest winning percentage in NBA history. Let’s please keep that number trending up!
  • I forgot about this commercial!
  • I lost my mind about one second after this photo was taken.
  • Are you kidding me!?
  • Rain rain, go away …

Author: Elias Schuster

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