The offseason buzz surrounding the Chicago Bulls only grew at media day on Monday afternoon. The Bulls’ top target this offseason, point guard Lonzo Ball, had plenty of positive things to say about his new team.
Chicago: Now a Desirable Destination
When asked about the impression he got from the team and leadership brass, Ball said he was inspired by the fact that Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, and Zach LaVine were all on the same page. A huge positive for long-suffering Bulls fans, there is finally cohesion among the front office, coaching staff, and multiple stars. There are only a handful of past examples where the franchise was in this kind of state. It represents a total 180 from the hypocrisy of the GarPax regime, most notably the “getting younger and more athletic” proclamation prior to signing Rajon Rondo and DeWayne Wade.
Regarding his selection of Chicago, Lonzo said, “It was an easy decision… The Bulls were always the front runner.”
Again, these are statements that should make Bulls fans extremely excited. Ball preferring Chicago is a breath of fresh air, as the Bulls had to settle for Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol instead of highly touted free-agent targets in the 2010s.
Chemistry is Key
In the aftermath of a major roster overhaul, there are still challenges facing the Bulls. Speaking on that topic, Ball said chemistry was the most important thing to focus on. The Bulls’ three key ball-handlers — LaVine, Ball, and DeMar DeRozan — have not played with this many players who can score in one lineup. Lonzo said they have been hanging out together at the practice facility and elsewhere to learn each other’s playing styles and general personalities. One topic DeRozan raised in his media session was the fact that all three of the aforementioned players have ties to Los Angeles, where they have been working out in addition to Chicago.
Elaborating on what he has learned from the little time he has had with his teammates, Ball said, “They are a lot of guys with high character and unselfish.” Outside of Ball, LaVine and DeRozan both mentioned “unselfish” when describing each other. While the talk of the town is how good this Bulls team should be on paper, the on-court concern comes back to chemistry.
Fans can look at a team like the Memphis Grizzlies to exemplify why chemistry is so important. Memphis tends to draft well and the numbers are there, but they lack cohesion as a team. As a result, they have perpetually been a 6-8 seed in the playoffs. The Bulls, on the other hand, are shaping up to have both the star power and off-court dynamic to elevate their performance higher than expectations.
Role with the Bulls
Getting into the X’s and O’s, questions arose regarding Ball’s role with the Bulls. Lonzo has typically played point guard his whole career, but as of last year, New Orleans situated him in the corner to shoot. That experiment won’t carry over to Chicago, however, as Ball said head coach Billy Donovan assured that he would be back running the point for the Bulls. While that is Lonzo’s preferred position, he said he will always do what the coach asks of him.
Ball also ventured to say that in today’s game, and especially with the players surrounding him on the Bulls’ roster, it should look and feel positionless at times. That potential free-flowing element is part of why he picked the Bulls.
“Their interest in me.. they didn’t want me to change my game, also Zach,” Ball explained.
Lonzo Ball’s comments at media day should be viewed as a victory lap for the Bulls front office. Not even one official practice in, the team’s primary offseason target is on the same page as the entire organization. More importantly, the team is suited to fit Ball and his needs. With everything seemingly working in Lonzo’s favor, Bulls fans have good reason to be optimistic that 2021-22 will be a breakout season for Chicago’s new point guard.