The Chicago Bulls have done a great job of stockpiling young talent on their roster. Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Coby White all proved they have the potential to be stars in this league. But even with all this talent, the Bulls are not even in contention to be a playoff team. This is because there are still some moves that need to be made.
Move #1: Acquire a Pass-First, Defensive-Minded Point Guard
Many of the Bulls’ problems stem from the fact they do not currently have a primary playmaker. Only one Bull averaged over five assists per game and that was Tomas Satoransky. Satoransky is a liability defensively, so he does not fit the bill.
Looking at LaVine and White, they may be talented scorers, but they are only looking for their own shot. When the primary playmakers are only looking for their own shot, a spot-up stretch four like Markkanen is going to see a dip in his numbers. Pair the iso-style offense with the poor defensive play of LaVine and White and you have problem number one with the Bulls.
So how do you fix it? Make a move on one of these point guards:
It is no secret that Kentucky product John Wall has had his fair share of problems in Washington. Between problems with Bradley Beal in the past and his health problems, it may be worth taking a risk on the former All-Star. His contract will be a problem to match.
Nevertheless, if the Bulls wanted to cobble together enough pieces, a backcourt of John Wall and Zach LaVine would not only be entertaining but also a playoff contender. With LaVine doing the bulk of the scoring, Wall would be able to shift his focus on setting players up and locking down opposing guards.
Like I said, it will not be an easy deal to make for Wall. But with the big contract of Thaddeus Young, young talent with potential, and a combination of picks, a deal could be in the cards.
It is a large step down from the caliber of player that John Wall is, but New York Knick Elfrid Payton would be more attainable. A smaller contract along with a logjam at point guard in New York makes Payton an interesting player to make a move on. He has not been much of a scorer and has never averaged over 15 points per game in his career, but that is exactly what the Bulls need.
Once in Chicago, Payton can focus his play on passing and playmaking. Defensively, he has always been slightly above average, which will help the Bulls’ backcourt as well. As I said, he may not be the player Wall is, but if the Bulls want to make a move on a solid veteran that will know his role, Payton should be on their radar.
Out of three names listed, Holiday may be the toughest guard to get. The Pelicans seem to have come into their own once Zion Williamson got healthy, and Jrue Holiday seemed to play a big role in their success. His defensive-minded style of play allowed for Brandon Ingram to take a big leap offensively.
Holiday could be more of a trade candidate than presumed. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported in mid-December that Holiday was available. David Griffin quickly declined the rumors though. Nevertheless, trade rumors have circulated around the veteran guard, and that should put him on the Bulls’ radar.
Move #2: Have Vacancy at Head Coach
I am not one to come for another man’s job. But Jim Boylen? It might be time to take a look elsewhere for the Bulls. Maybe former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson could fill those shoes and turn this team around.
Move #3: Free Agency
Free agency is where the Bulls can start their turnaround and become that playoff squad every fan of the team is hoping for. With the contracts of Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter Jr., however, it will be tough. Yet, both players could still have a trade market, more so Young than Porter due to injury. Nevertheless, Chicago likely needs to make some big moves to propel forward. Here are some options they should consider:
Veteran Jeff Teague knows what his NBA role is, a backup point guard. This is good because it is exactly what the Bulls could use, veteran guards that know their role. Teague can come off the bench and spread the floor or step into a backup playmaking role if need be.
He may not offer any floor spacing for LaVine and White, but RHJ can come off the bench and defend almost any position with his combination of speed and strength. For a team that was middle of the pack in defense, Jefferson can step in and better the already solid defensive frontcourt.
Who does not need more 3-and-D wings? With the injuries to Otto Porter rather frequent throughout his time with the Bulls, adding a proven 3-and-D wing with an already talented roster gives Chicago even more depth. Kent Bazemore has shown in his years with Atlanta that he can be effective without the ball in his hands and he knows his role.
Ideal Roster for the Bulls in 2020-21
PG: One of John Wall/Elfrid Payton/Jrue Holiday
SG: Zach LaVine
SF: Otto Porter Jr.
PF: Lauri Markkanen
C: Wendell Carter Jr.
6th: Coby White
Guard: Jeff Teague
Forward: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Wing: Kent Bazemore
Big: Daniel Gafford
Head Coach: Kenny Atkinson
That roster could happen if everything breaks right. Trading for John Wall or Jrue Holiday will more than likely cause some changes in the roster, but trading for Payton will keep it looking the same.
The Chicago Bulls are close to competing, as they have a very talented young core. They are only a few pieces away from being a competitive team in a tough Eastern Conference.
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