The Chicago Bulls decided to go young and start a new chapter. The future begins now.
Projected Starting Lineup
Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, Paul Zipser, Lauri Markkanen, Amidah Brimah
Cameron Payne, Antonio Blakeney, Ryan Arcidiacono, Dejan Todorovic, Lauri Markkanen, Jerrelle Benimon, Nikola Jovanovic
Las Vegas Summer League
July 8th - Bulls vs. Mavericks - NBA TV (3:30 PM CT)
July 10th - Bulls vs. Hawks - ESPNU (3:00 PM CT)
July 11th - Bulls vs. Wizards - NBA TV (5:00 PM CT)
July 12th – Summer League Playoffs
The Chicago Bulls will begin their quest to repeat as the Las Vegas Summer League champions on July 8 against the Dallas Mavericks and their exciting first round pick Dennis Smith Jr.
What to Watch For
The Youth Movement Takes Over
Bulls fans have been pushing for Gar/Pax to go out and acquire some youth to inject life into this roster for a few seasons now. While most wanted to have that young talent surrounding Jimmy Butler, the front office hit the reset button and dealt Butler in a trade that is widely regarded as bad--even for the Bulls standards. With powerhouses like the Warriors and Cavaliers set to dominate the NBA for the next two to three years, it ultimately made sense for them to reload with young talent and build a team with a window to compete three to six years down the road. The Butler and Taj Gibson trades were hard to stomach, but this finally signals a new chapter for this young Bulls squad with an eye to the future.
Lauri Markkanen gets his first taste
All eyes will undoubtedly be on the sharpshooting rookie Lauri Markkanen when he steps on the court Saturday afternoon. Markkanen was selected with the seventh overall pick acquired from the Timberwolves in the Butler trade, and he has to show a glimpse of why the Bulls front office was so high on him. He was a gunner in college, averaging 15.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 1.9 3PM on 49/42/83 shooting splits. Some have projected Markkanen as the next Dirk Nowitzki, while others think his upside is capped as a stretch-big off the bench. Summer League isn’t a gold standard for NBA basketball, but you can tell when some guys play a step above. Bulls fans will be cautiously holding their breath hoping their new big man leaves a solid first impression.
Backcourt battle between Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne
Kris Dunn is tentatively penciled in as the Bulls starting point guard this year, but his play left a lot to be desired as a rookie. I want to see him take over and run the offense the way Dante Exum has for Utah this Summer. I was higher on Dunn than most at draft time last year, and I still think he can be a difference maker at the point guard position. Behind him, it doesn’t get any clearer. Cameron Payne was thought to be the point guard of the future when he was acquired at the trade deadline last year but has looked absolutely dreadful in his recovery from a broken foot. The Bulls elected to hold Jerian Grant out of summer competition, so they are expecting to see a major improvement in Payne’s game if he hopes to lock down a spot in Fred Hoiberg’s rotation.
Denzel Valentine and Paul Zipser’s development on the wing
Second-round pick Paul Zipser outplayed Chicago’s lottery selection Denzel Valentine last season, culminating with two double-digit scoring games against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs. I think there’s a chance you could see Zipser lock down a starting role this season alongside Dwyane Wade. Zipser doesn’t hurt you anywhere defensively and can stretch the floor and knock down shots from the perimeter. Valentine started last year hampered with injuries and never really settled into a groove. With a healthy offseason under his belt and the depth chart clearing out in front of him, everything is lining up for Valentine to take a big step forward this year. He was older for a rookie coming into the league last year, so we need to start seeing improvement in his game now or he could turn into the next Doug McDermott.