The Chicago Bulls played their first competitive basketball game last week. Ok, maybe not “competitive”, but it was the first time players on the Bulls roster played a basketball game together since March, before COVID-19 shut down the NBA and the entire sports world.
Five sets of scrimmages were played with teams being mixed up throughout the games. Below are five of my thoughts from the set of scrimmages as the Bulls continue to get ready for the upcoming NBA season:
Both Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen Played Well
Arguably the two most talented players on the Bulls roster, Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen, both showed a lot of positives in the opening set of scrimmages.
Zach looked extremely quick driving the hole and he even looked like he put on some muscle as well. His three point shot was smooth, as he hit a couple of them throughout the scrimmages.
What impressed me the most was the ability to create for others. He had a couple really nice passes as he drove to the rim, showing good decision making. Add to that the defensive ability he showed guarding Lauri and Coby White and Lavine looks set to improve upon his performances last season.
Lauri Markkanen also looked really good. I counted him making three 3-pointers and he touched the ball several times throughout the games. That is going to be key as Markkanen’s usage dropped to a career low 21.1% under Jim Boylen last season, as well as a career low of 11.8 field goal attempts per game.
With a true shooting percentage that was actually a career high last season (56%), it is imperative Markkanen sees more of the ball, something that should happen in Billy Donovan’s offense.
Chandler Hutchison Looked Explosive and Healthy
Hutchinson has struggled to stay healthy so far in his Bulls career, playing just 72 total games across two seasons, including just 28 of a possible 55 games last year.
However, there is hope for the 2018 first round pick. His player efficiency rating, or PER, and true shooting percentage both significantly improved from his first season to his second, showing he can be a valuable player on this team.
The thing that I loved seeing the most was Hutchinson’s explosiveness and athleticism. He had a few tomahawk dunks and made a jump shot as well. If this delayed start to the season is going to help anyone, it will be Hutchinson.
Is Coby White the Bulls Point Guard of the Future?
I’m personally not sold on Coby White being a true point guard, but I’m hoping he proves me wrong. A roughly 1.6 assist to turnover ratio last season shows there is some promise of White being a point guard at times, and he certainly is a better offensive point guard than Kris Dunn.
But, he can be streaky, both in shooting the ball as well as turning the ball over. Don’t forget his nine turnover game against the Cavs before COVID-19 shut everything down. I think his scoring acumen will always allow him to play as a shooting guard, a position that lends itself best to his skillset.
That being said, he did start to prove me a wrong a bit with his scrimmage play. There were multiple examples of solid decision making in transition, something that is necessary for any good point guard in this league.
If he can increase his basketball IQ and continue to become a better decision maker and passer, he can be deadly, as those skills combined with his shooting talent, can really cause defenders problems.
Amin-King Combo Is Going to Be Electric
Adam Amin and Stacey King are going to be really good together in the Bulls broadcast booth. Adam Amin is one of the most talented young sports broadcasters in the game. His voice is going to be perfect for Bulls basketball.
Combine that with Stacey King’s colloquialisms and catch-phrases, and you got yourself a hell of a broadcasting duo. I love Neil Funk and he will be missed, but I’m so excited to hear these guys call basketball games together for the next several years.
Arturas Karnisovas Interview
Adam Amin interviewed Arturas Karnisovas during one of the scrimmages and they talked about of couple of things. First, Amin asked Karnisovas what made him so excited to hire Donovan. While AK didn’t go into too much detail, he did bring up Donovan’s ability to “maximize player talent”, something he hopes to see Donovan do on both sides of the court.
Furthermore, Karnisovas was asked about how the Bulls organization can mimic what AK’s former team, the Denver Nuggets, have done. Karnisovas said that it was possible for this Bulls team to do so as the Bulls have a plethora of young talent, combined with some solid veteran leadership.
Karnisovas simply ended the interview saying that this young team simply needs to begin finding ways to win. “We’ll figure that out”, Karnisovas said. Simple, but strong words from the new head of basketball operations.