The Chicago Bulls made a splash on the first day of free agency by signing Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. The team has two dependable point guards for the next four years, an area that has been lacking the previous seasons. For the first time in three years, fans in the Chicago area have something to be excited about once the 2021-2022 season arrives.
However, the team could have a move or two up their sleeve. For the time being, we aren’t going to worry about future contract extensions or the depth that fills up the bench. Instead, let’s take a look at the potential starting lineup for the Chicago Bulls.
Point Guard - Lonzo Ball
The Bulls finally found their point guard. Ball had his best offensive season, shooting a career-high in points (14.6), and three-point percentage (37.8%). Ball also brings strong rebounding and playmaking, while he is an elite on-the-ball defender. In the last few years, the Bulls have tried using players like Kris Dunn, Coby White, and Tomas Satoransky. It hasn’t worked and it has forced Zach LaVine to be in more isolation scenarios.
White and Satoransky were turnover-prone, while Ball averaged a turnover percentage of just 14% while being utilized in the offense 20% of the time. This will take a burden off LaVine and allow him to be open. Not to mention, his shooting has legitimately improved over time. The price tag of $85 million is steep, but the Bulls can finally have an offense led by a proven point guard for the first time since Rajon Rondo.
Shooting Guard - Zach LaVine
LaVine enters the final season of his contract ($19.5 million) with hopes of being someone paid well over $30 million per season. After securing his first All-Star nod in a season where he averaged 27.4 points and shot 50.7% from the field. LaVine has been the heart and soul of the team’s offense the last three years. Now, he finally will get some help.
Even with Ball and Vucevic in the mix, LaVine could still be someone that averages 30.0 points per game. He has the potential. Not to mention, this 41% shooting from outside was a first, so one has to believe he will only get better in a contract year. Outside of shooting, LaVine averaged a career-high 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
Small Forward - DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan is the one player that is not a part of the Bulls just yet, but very well could be. Everything pends on the situation with Lauri Markkanen. For the Bulls to make this move, the team would need to complete a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs. It would likely have to include the salary of Thaddeus Young as well.
If this move is made, DeRozan brings yet another great passer to the team. Last year, DeRozan averaged 21.6 points per game and a career-high 6.9 assists per game. Imagine having Ball (5.7 assists), LaVine (4.9 assists), and Derozan all maneuvering the ball on offense. It would certainly be a change for the Bulls, who have been used to giving the Ball to LaVine and making something happen.
Power Forward - Patrick Williams
The move for Ball will greatly impact the game of Patrick Williams the most. At times, Williams was shoved off to the corner on offense. Despite shooting 48.3% from the field and 39.1% from three, he never truly got into a groove on offense. Now, Williams can slide back to his natural position of power forward if DeRozan plays small forward. This not only helps the offense but the defense as well.
Williams was considered one of the best defenders in college at Florida State. He had a successful season this past year by making the All-Rookie Second Team, but there is more potential there. At 19 years old, he was one of the youngest players to play in the league. With real NBA talent that can succeed at their natural positions, maybe Williams can as well.
Center - Nikola Vucevic
When the Bulls acquired Vucevic, it came with a high price tag. It cost Wendell Carter Jr. and two first-round picks. Vucevic is a unique center that can shoot from outside and brings a strong passing game. In 26 games, Vucevic averaged 21.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists.
There were times that Vucevic looked out of sync, but maybe with a true point guard, we could see development. Either way, Vucevic and LaVine both made the All-Star team last year. With an offseason to work on their chemistry, this could be one of the best partnerships in the East.
Coby White, Alex Caruso, Ryan Arcidiacono, Javonte Green, Devon Dotson, Adam Mokoka, Ayo Dosunmu, Troy Brown Jr., Lauri Markkanen, Marko Simonovic, Tony Bradley
Due to their trades to bolster the starting lineup, the Bulls lost Thaddeus Young, Garrett Temple, and Tomas Satoransky. The bench will look a lot younger this season.
Starting with Coby White, moving him to the bench could be huge for the 21-year old’s career. White averaged 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. White and LaVine on the floor didn’t always boast the best results, but when White was in the lineup without LaVine, he played better. If White can give the Bulls a player like Lou Willams off the bench, then the second unit will be fine offensively. That would allow Alex Caruso to play point guard with White at the two.
After his 26-point effort in Summer League, Ayo Dosunmu is showing that he could be a steal of the draft. The former Chicago and Illinois product was a First-Team All-American last year. Another young player to watch is Troy Brown Jr. The 22-year old played 13 games last year and shot 52.7% from the field.
For now, Markkanen is on the team and has not been dealt with. He could return on a one-year qualifying offer. Markkanen fell out of the starting rotation last year but shot over 40% from the three-point range. As for center, Tony Bradley replaces Daniel Thies, who accepted a deal in Houston. In 22 games in OKC, Bradley averaged 8.7 points and 6.1 rebounds. He figures to be the team’s main rim protector.
The Bulls Are Competitive Again
The team has an All-Star in LaVine, a two-time All-Star in Vucevic, and a four-time All-Star in DeRozan. Ball is the former No. 2 overall pick in 2017, while Williams is a former No. 4 overall pick in 2020 as both have made significant progress in their development. This starting lineup has real potential even if the team is not a title contender right away.
Would this team get past the Nets, 76ers, or Bucks this year? That’s highly questionable. It’s even fair to debate if this team could be the Hawks, Knicks, or Heat. In the end, if the Bulls make the playoffs, it would finally give superstars a reason to think about coming to Chicago in free agency. After that, it could be time to start talking about Chicago more often when it comes to the league’s superstars.