2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Chicago Bulls
The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Chicago Bulls.
27-55, 5th in the Central Division
The Chicago Bulls were a complete trainwreck last year in every way imaginable. For the first month of the season, they were so awful they barely qualified as a basketball team. Across the whole year, they were one of the worst teams in the league. That was part of the plan, and would have been fine if it weren’t for a three-week stretch in December. Over this cursed three weeks, the Bulls — fueled by the hot shooting of Nikola Mirotic — went 10-2, earning over a third of their season-long win total, and royally screwing up their draft pick. You know a team is truly incompetent when they can’t even tank right.
David Nwaba, SG; Jerian Grant, PG; Noah Vonleh, PF; Paul Zipser, SF
Jabari Parker, PF; Wendell Carter Jr., C; Chandler Hutchinson, SF;
Player to Watch:
Often when a team is as undeniably awful on one end of the floor as the Bulls are on defense, people tend to assign competency on the other end out of a sense of inevitability, or pity. The Bulls are going to be a bottom-five defense in the league, without a doubt. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be good on offense, as many have assumed. They may not be above-average, or even passable. This team has real potential to be bottom ten on both ends.
With that said, it’s still a critical year for the franchise, largely because of the structure of the contract given to Parker, the Chicago native and number two overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Parker was given big money — Chicago owes him $20 million this year — but only on a short-term basis. The Bulls can opt out of his two-year deal after this season.
Parker is a critical piece in the future of Chicago’s fascinating young core. The former Milwaukee Buck is arguably the worst defensive player in the league, and is far from a comprehensive fit with the Bulls’ key pieces, young frontcourt Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., and gunner Zach LaVine, who the Bulls also overpaid this summer.
If Parker performs well enough this year to convince the Bulls’ front office to sign him long-term, this era of Bulls basketball could be over before it begins.
Worst Case Scenario:
The young and hungry Bulls luck into a top ten offense and stumble into the eighth seed in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. They miss out on a chance to add a foundational talent in the draft, only to get swept off of the floor by the Boston Celtics. The front office is so pleased with themselves that they opt out of Parker’s deal in order to lock him up long-term, and trade the 15th pick in the draft to show they’re in “win-now” mode.
Best Case Scenario:
Much like the 2017-18 Phoenix Suns, the Bulls are the worst team in the league on both ends of the floor, as they deserve. They finish the season comfortably in last place and win the lottery, allowing them to add University of North Carolina forward Nassir Little. Little serves as the obvious replacement to Parker, and the Bulls opt out of his deal and let him walk.
25-57, 5th in the Central Division.