Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls with the ball during the Toronto Raptors vs Chicago Bulls NBA regular season game at Scotiabank Arena on December 30, 2018 in Toronto, Canada (Toronto Raptors won 95-89) (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls fans were always spoiled through the Michael Jordan years. And it wasn’t that long ago that the Bulls were right in the thick of the Eastern Conference race. However, after two very disappointing seasons, it’s getting very restless in the Windy City. The Chicago Bulls season preview shows there is a glimmer of hope this is the year the Bulls begin to turn it around.

Chicago Bulls 2019-20 Season Preview

Recapping the 2018-19 season

Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Bulls had limited expectations. Considering they finished with a 27-55 record the previous season and hardly adding any players of impact in the offseason, most Bulls’ fans knew what they were in for.

Predictably, the season went according to script and the Bulls again had a disappointing record (22-60). Contributing to the issue was a sluggish start which got head coach Fred Hoiberg fired after only 24 games.

New coach Jim Boylen didn’t do much better but he was nonetheless retained after the offseason.

Regardless of the coaching instability, the season was meant to be one where the team built some chemistry around a young core that includes Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and 2018 first-round draft pick Wendell Carter.

However, significant injuries really sidetracked Chicago from the get-go.

Injuries to Dunn, Markkanen, and Carter (the trio together missed a combined 104 games) played a major role in the season going off the rails. Not to mention, additional injuries to Jabari Parker (who was traded along with Bobby Portis to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter at the deadline) and by also trading Justin Holiday (to the Memphis Grizzlies) didn’t help matters.

In all, it was a season to forget in Chicago.

Off-Season Moves

It was a relatively quiet offseason for the Bulls.

They did draft an exciting point guard prospect in Coby White out of North Carolina with the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft. White is a shifty, head-strong lead guard who has a ton of upside. He could challenge to supplant Dunn as the Bulls’ starting point guard.

The Bulls also signed one the league’s most underrated and consistent veterans in Thaddeus Young. By no means is Young a sexy acquisition, but he is good for the clubhouse and he comes with great dependability. He has played in at least 63 games in 11 of his 13 years in the NBA.

Chicago also made a couple of non-descript moves. They re-signed point guard Ryan Arcidiacono while also signing Daniel Gafford, Shaquille Harrison, and Luke Kornet. These are moves that are not going to move the needle.

Season Expectations

With still such a young core and a roster with no high-impact veterans (although the addition of Young and a full year with Porter will help), another year of hard knocks appears to be all but certain.

The battle at point guard will be one to watch. Maybe the Bulls move Dunn— who’s been a mild disappointment to date— and let White run with the job. How this plays out will be of utmost importance to the Bulls rebuilding plans.

LaVine is certainly an exciting player and the hope is he can stay healthy as well (he played in 63 games) and expand his game while taking on more of a leadership role.

Markkanen has all the tools to be a fringe NBA all-star. If he, too, stays healthy expect a breakout campaign. Markkanen is your textbook definition of a stretch four.

It’s also imperative that Carter has a rebound season. He showed some flashes of brilliance before going down with a season-ending thumb injury. Granted there was some inconsistency to his game, but with a return to full health he could be a huge x-factor for the Bulls.

Chicago Bulls Season Preview Prediction

There are just too many moving parts (overcoming injuries, youth, inexperienced coach, etc.) to expect much in the Windy City this season. Anything approaching 30 wins or more would be a success.

When you add it all up, it just doesn’t seem the Bulls have the horses to reach that threshold. It really should be more of the same in Chicago with their win total being anywhere between 22 and 26 wins.

This season should be about staying healthy, getting good seasons from Markkanen, Carter, Porter, Young and either from a combination of Dunn and or White or let one take the job. There is some young talent to build around here, but outside of drastic circumstances, expect to see the Bulls in the lottery next May.

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Dan Stack has been writing and reporting about sports since 2003, but has been dabbling in journalism ever since his days when writing for his college newspaper, The Pioneer (LIU C.W. Post) back in 1995. He comes to Last Word on Sports after having previously worked at FanRag Sports where he was a college basketball analyst, as well as lead recruiting analyst for both college football and basketball. Stack also worked at BleacherReport.com (where he wrote about fantasy football and college basketball, while amassing over one million page views), Fanball.com (he ran a blog for the Pittsburgh Steelers-SteelersMill.com), FantasyPros911.com (wrote about fantasy football and baseball), SNYGiants.com (New York Giants coverage), NYGiantsRush.com, Mets360.com (Mets baseball coverage), CollegeHoopsNet.com, RotoWire.com (fantasy baseball beat writer) and Sportsmedia101.com (where he wrote and blogged at Knicks101.com). He is also a senior writer for WeAreDePaul.com, and has written and reported on the DePaul men's basketball program since 2003. He has covered many Big East games on the east coast and has been a regular at the Big East Tournament for more than a decade. Prior to his online sports writing career, Stack was also the Managing Editor of his county's weekly newspaper, the Rockland County Times, from 2007 to 2009. He has a BA degree from C.W. Post with a major in broadcasting and a minor in journalism. At Post, he not only wrote for the school newspaper, but also was a DJ at the school's radio station (WCWP) and was a crew member for Post TV (the University's TV Station). If want to hear rumblings on college basketball, fantasy sports, New York fandom an other random pop culture musings, be sure to follow him on Twitter @Stacdemon

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