By Robert Weihofen
We are only two games into the season for the Bulls and one thing is for sure:They are going to lose a significant amount of games. Now, when I say this I don’t mean they are going to be as bad as some other recent rebuilding teams,but they could lose 50 or more. They have showed early on they can be an exciting team, even in let down losses, and LaVine is going to be a stud this year. With these few thoughts in mind, let’s take a look at the top 5 early season story lines to watch this season.
- Zach LaVine: Back-to-back 30 point games to begin the season is showing LaVine is worth every penny of the $78 Million Dollar deal he signed this offseason. Until Markkanen comes back,it appears LaVine will be carrying this team on his back through the first part of the season. Even at a young age, he has shown to be a natural leader for the team, and someone you want to have playing in those crucial minutes of a game. This is going to be the first full season for him since his ACL tear, so Bulls fans are going to be holding their breath as the season goes on and more minutes are logged for LaVine. One way or the other, the Bulls fan base are watching a budding star before their eyes, and should be happy to have someone like this in Chicago.
- The Jabari Parker Saga: Parker has not impressed since putting on his hometown uniform. He is struggling to perform on the court, leading to a demotion and coming off the bench with the second unit which lead to him brushing off reporters or flat out leaving post game before answering any questions. For someone making over $20 million this year, you expect more. It is understandable to on court struggles, he too is coming back from an ACL injury, and adjustments can take time from that kind of injury. The main issue is going to be how he handles his continued demotion and if his attitude will spread in the locker room as the season progresses.
- The Rookies: Carter Jr. and Hutchison have that fire in their eyes as they have both made their NBA debuts now, and they want more. Though it seems Hutchison is going to have to wait a while longer to get his time, Carter Jr. has seen some nice minutes to begin the season, but is seeing a foul trouble problem that will need to be worked on. He is playing as advertised, and this should encourage Bulls fans. Once Markkanen gets back from his elbow injury the core of LaVine, Markkanen, and Carter Jr. is going to be something to watch. On the flip side of rookies, Hutchison, who the Bulls reportedly told him they were taking him months before the draft, is struggling to even find the court so far this year. Even with the shorthanded roster to start the season, he has barely cracked the lineup and this will just get harder when the Bulls are at full strength. Yes, his performance in camp and Pre-Season has played a factor in the eyes of Hoiberg if he isn’t getting minutes, but this is not a good look for a Front Office that’s always under fire.
- Hoiberg/Front Office: Speaking of the beloved front office, even though they are never on the hot seat with owner Reinsdorf, they are always on the hot seat with fans. They have turned it around a little this year with drafting Carter Jr, and keeping LaVine. Markkanen has been a nice touch too for them, but it is never going to be enough in the eyes of some Bulls fans and how they have flopped in the past. Anyone remember Tyrus Thomas? They are going to have to maneuver the trade deadline this year as hard sellers, looking to flip some of their Veteran talent if possible. Look for Lopez and Holiday to be at the top of this list. To top it all off, they are going to have to decide if Hoiberg will get another year at the helm, because he now has players that fit his system and improvements are going to have to be shown.
- Defense: Hoiball is built on the idea that if you can score 100 plus points a game you will win. This may work in college where they sometimes struggle to put up 50 in games, but in the NBA 100 is pretty common. The problem here is now that the Bulls finally have a team that can average 100 to 110 points a game, they also have a team that will most likely average giving up 115-120 a game. The lack of effort or even care on the defensive side of the ball is a main reason the Bulls are starting down the barrel of a potential 50-60 loss season. Can improvements be made? Of course. Do I expect Thibodeau level greatness? Not in the slightest. Just give us a defense that can give us some hope the team can make that key stop on a close game this season.