It’s just a few games into the preseason and the Bulls have been all over the place with their play, causing some frustration and very slight optimism from the fans. Although the early look for the team is one that will cause a long season, there are bright spots for the team and always things to look at improving.
The Good: Aside from winning their preseason opener, there has not been a lot of good to look at for the Bulls. The two bright spots so far have been Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis. Both have been lighting it up on the offensive side of the ball, averaging 18.3 PPG apiece. Seeing two players that are going to play a significant role in the rebuild and core moving having early success is a good sign for the Bulls. LaVine did have a scare in the second game when he came off the court holding his surgically repaired knee, but it ended up being a minor thigh injury so Bulls fans could breathe easy. If both of these guys can keep it up for a majority of the season, the Bulls have a chance to be a feisty team that won’t go away against others in the league.
The other bright spot has been Antonio Blakeney, who has put up 14.7 PPG in the first three contests. As someone who could find himself as the primary backup PG, and even starter depending on how Kris Dunn fairs, he has shown a lot of promise so far. He could be a big spark coming off the bench with Portis and the rest of the second unit when the season starts.
The Bad: Everyone had hoped the homecoming of Jabari Parker was going to help ignite the young Bulls, and give them leadership, as well as another large scoring threat to pair with LaVine and Markkanen. Although it is a very small sample size, some fans have turned on Parker already, as he is shooting just 24.3% over the first three preseason games. The former Bucks forward and Duke Star has not played the same since his ACL injury, and it’s unfortunate for both him and the Bulls. If he is going to have an impact on the team he is going to need work on his shot selection, and getting his percentage up aa time goes on
The Ugly: Shooting the three and stopping opponents to score look to plague the Bulls all season long. Early on, the Bulls look like they could be one of the worst teams statistically in both categories. The Bulls lost one of their best long-range shooters in Markkanen for 6-8 weeks to start this season, and behind him, there are not a lot of options. LaVine has shown he can hit from downtown, and Carter Jr. had some success at Duke, but overall this is not a great team for shooting beyond the arc. In two of their first three pre-season games, they have shot less than 25% beyond the arc.
On the other side of the ball, it appears the Bulls are not going to be able to stop teams from scoring this year. It’s well known that Hoiberg lead teams are never top defensive teams, but this could be an all-time worse for him. This is a team that could easily average giving up 105-110 points a night if something does not change fast. The young players the team has assembled are all for scoring, but they are severely lacking on the defensive side of the ball, and it could get worse if this is not addressed.
It has been a small sample size so far in October, but I think we have seen the Bulls team we are going to see during the regular season minus Markkanen. It is going to be a rough season, but it can only get better from here. I truly believe the Bulls are a few FA signings and lottery picks away from building a team that can make the playoffs.