The Bulls had a very tumultuous start to last season, firing head coach Fred Hoiberg early then hiring Jim Boylen, who’s practice regimen had his players ready to mutiny. Things seemed to stabilize later in the season however, with relationships between Boylen and his players improving. At the end of it, the Bulls actually seemed to end the year on a good note, creating some momentum heading into this season. They had a solid if unspectacular offseason, getting Coby White in the draft before picking up two solid role players in free agency with Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young. This is another developmental season for the Bulls, who will need to show some growth and progress after years of asset collection. They have some question they need to answer about their starting lineup, and here are the biggest.
With Robin Lopez’s departure in free agency, Wendell Carter Jr. would seem to be poised to take over as the team’s starting center. The only question is how ready he is to do so. As a rookie, he looked solid but only played 44 games as he struggled through injuries for much of the season. The Bulls drafted him in 2018 to be the center of the future, and he’ll get the chance to show why they did so. One thing Carter Jr. will need to improve on is his 3-point shot. He came into the league known as a floor spacing big but didn’t really showcase that in his rookie year. Based on his college tape, we know he can, we just need to see him do it. One thing that did translate from his college game was his defensive ability, as he showed impressive awareness and instincts. How high his ceiling is remains to be seen, but hopefully we’ll get a better read on him after his first full season as a starter.
Who Will Start at Point Guard?
The Bulls have a couple options at the point guard position, and it’s something they’ll probably want to sort out sooner rather than later. One of the options, Kris Dunn, may not be on the team for much longer as his name has been floated around for trade talks. But even if he is traded, the Bulls will still have two options to pick from. One of them is their first draft pick in Coby White, who the Bulls likely plan to be the point guard of their future. Assuming his development is high on their priority list, they might decide to start him right away. The second option is Tomas Satoransky, and although his tenure on the team will likely be shorter than White's, he’s probably the best option right now. Satoransky was impressive on the Wizards, and he probably signed with the Bulls expecting a bigger opportunity. Although White is the long-term point guard for the Bulls, Satoransky is a more stable and proven option as of right now. If the Bulls want to maximize their competitiveness Satoransky is the better choice, but if developing prospects is their priority, White should get the start.
Is this Starting Lineup Good Enough to Compete in the East?
The Bulls starting lineup has promise, but they're also very unproven. All the players in the starting lineup will likely be extremely young, and with the exception of Otto Porter Jr. and Satoransky if he starts, none have made the playoffs. Their frontcourt of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. has potential, but also lack chemistry right now. Zach Lavine is a tremendous scorer who can carry the offense for stretches, but also needs to improve defensively. Otto Porter Jr. is a solid 3 and D player who seemed to provide a spark for the Bulls offense after being traded midseason. The Bulls don’t have a set starting point guard yet, but each option brings something to the table. All in all, this team has promise but whether they can reach it is uncertain. Stagnation would be disappointing, so the goal for the front office is probably a Nets like leap where they remain around 500 and hopefully sneak into the playoffs as a lower seed.