Chicago Bulls Young Core Provides Hope for Bright Future


Chicago Bulls fans are used to being entertained by winning teams every season.

Of course, the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen led Bulls’ teams were the class of the NBA in the 1990s. But Chicago continued its winning tradition after that era ended.

After six-straight losing seasons from 1998-99, the Bulls have only one losing seasons since and a 41-41 record in 2016-17.

What Bulls fans are not used to is a team with a 3-16 record in the early stages of a long rebuild.

Chicago Bulls Young Core Provides Hope for Bright Future

There is no doubt Chicago is a hard team to watch right now. But if Bulls fans stay patient and glean some positives from what vice president of basketball operations John Paxson is trying to build.

Of course, had Derrick Rose stayed healthy and remained in Chicago, the Bulls might still be near the top of the Eastern Conference and in contention for a high playoff seed. But while the what if game is not reality, that does not mean everything is and will be all doom and gloom.

The Bulls decision to trade three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen singled the beginning of a complete tear down in the Windy City.

Unexpected Trade Winner?

When the Bulls and Timberwolves made the deal on draft night, most people did not know what Chicago was doing. Many thought Minnesota had the makings of a super team.

It has not quite developed yet, but paring Butler with Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins could easily create the league’s next big three.

This may change, but Butler has struggled to be the primary scorer in Minneapolis. After averaging 20 or more points in each of the last four seasons, the 28-year-old has averaged 17.4 points in his first 19 games with the Timberwolves.

Meanwhile, all the Bulls supposedly got were two players in Dunn and LaVine that had yet to prove themselves at the professional level and only the second player to play in the NBA in Markkanen.

But Dunn has progressed this season, Markkanen has shined and once LaVine gets on the floor, excitement will return to the United Center.

Building the Next Core

Markkanen has been one of the best rookies in the league. He is a seven-footer with a sweet touch from beyond the arc and great footwork on catch-and-shoot opportunities. He is currently fifth among rookies in scoring (14.3 per game) and he is second only to Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers among rookies in rebounding (8.2 per game). He leads the Bulls in both categories.

After only averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 assists in his first season in Minnesota, Dunn’s minutes have increased with Chicago and his play has improved with more time on the court. The 23-year-old out of Providence has averaged 11.5 points per game and 4.1 assists per game and has been a tad better in both departments over his last 10 games, averaging 12.9 points and 4.5 assists per game to go along with 4.7 rebounds and some steals mixed in.

Everybody is itching to see what LaVine will bring to the table.

It may take three or four years for the Bulls to build a winner, but head coach Fred Hoiberg‘s team can gel around these three players and that gives them a chance to win the trade in the long run.

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