The Chicago Bulls capped off the offseason with their annual Media Day session. From the start, John Paxson and Gar Forman made it clear that Chicago’s front office no longer has the desire to be featured in the NBA Draft Lottery.
Everyone that appeared on the podium today spoke about their aspirations to reach the playoffs and the necessary steps that are required to play late-April basketball. This team finally believes that it has talented enough players — along with a group of high-character guys — to build that camaraderie and compete for a playoff spot.
Bulls fans finally have something to be excited about after two brutal seasons of rebuilding.
As we all know, this Bulls squad has won a combined 49 games over the last two years, including a 22-60 record last season. In year three of the rebuild, it is critical that Chicago shows improvement, but more importantly, translates those improvements into winning basketball, as Zach LaVine continuously mentioned throughout his time on the podium.
LaVine came off a season where averaged a career-high in nearly every statistical category — 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, a 46.7 shooting percentage from the field, and 37 percent from three on five shot attempts.
Jim Boylen addressed that their success will largely be based on the continued development of Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Entering year six and three respectively, this duo has all the talent to be looked upon as stars in this league.
Jim Boylen: “As hard as it is to believe, I think Zach [LaVine] has taken his athleticism to the next level.”
This sounds scary for the rest of the league.
Markkanen and LaVine understand that recognition comes with winning.
“I had an All-Star caliber season. But everything comes with winning. I want to be that to be more important.” – Zach LaVine
Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young will also contribute to this young squad playing winning basketball. Young was signed by Chicago minutes into free agency when he landed in Chicago on a three-year, $41 million contract. Meanwhile, Satoransky was acquired via sign-and-trade from the Washington Wizards and was awarded a three-year, $30 million deal.
John Paxson spoke about acquiring high-quality guys that bring veteran leadership in the locker room while being able to contribute effective minutes on the court. Both players will be integral pieces for the Bulls moving forward.
This upcoming season, the Bulls envision playing with a faster pace after finishing last season ranked 20th in that department with a rating of 99.30. Using their youth and athleticism, they’ll be able to out-run teams in their new multi-ball-handler system that Jim Boylen spoke of.
The Bulls possess a myriad of players who can handle the ball and contribute to faster play. A more up-tempo offensive style of play can maximize the strengths of a number of players on the roster.
One of those, in particular, is 2019 first-round draft pick, Coby White. Chicago is currently crowded at the point guard position. White, most likely, won’t enter the season as the starter and will be featured as that spark off the bench. The way Boylen wants to play directly complements White’s skillset. The 6’5″ guard out of North Carolina plays with a high motor and is deadly in the open court. With his quickness and speed, he can turn a defensive rebound into an easy layup on the other end in a matter of seconds.
Coby White discussed his role with the team this upcoming season.
“I want to show everyone I’m a hard worker and willing to do whatever I need to win games, whatever my role is. I’m here to earn my minutes.”
This was a very veteran response from the 19-year-old.
Another young player that looked more confident was second-year center Wendell Carter Jr., who discussed surgery on his muscle core injury. He noted that the surgery was a success and that he’s back to 100%. He also mentioned that this is the best he’s felt in five to six years. Carter stated that he’ll be quicker laterally and a more confident player on the offensive end.
Big things are coming in year two.
The Chicago Bulls Media Day wrapped up and left a positive vibe swirling around. We’ve seen this story before and have been continuously been let down. However, this season feels different and it appears that Chicago has all the right pieces in play to make a real run for the playoffs this season.
The season is rapidly approaching. Stay tuned.
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