The summer brought much change to the windy city of Chicago. The Bulls shipped off hometown product and former MVP Derrick Rose, lost Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah in free agency, and traded away Mike Dunleavy Junior. The Bulls still wanting to be a competitive team in the Eastern Conference brought in Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez, and convinced Dwayne Wade to return home.
The Chicago Bulls will be an experiment and fun team to watch early in the season. The Bulls roster now features three players who are used to playing the guard position and having the ball and offense run through them. Rondo, Wade, and Jimmy Butler will have to learn to co-exist and play with one ball between them. Other interesting storylines for the Bulls include will Mirotic finally become the fantasy star so many predicted last season? Will Bobby Portis get enough minutes to be known for more than just his crazy eyes? Will lottery pick Denzel Valentine emerge into a valuable fantasy asset at some point this season? Let us dive into the preview to find out everything you will need to know about the Bulls for fantasy.
|Denzel Valentine NBA Draft
Dwyane Wade Miami Heat
Isaiah Canaan Philadelphia 76ers
Jerian Grant New York Knicks
Rajon Rondo Sacramento Kings
Robin Lopez New York Knicks
|Aaron Brooks Indiana Pacers
Mike Dunleavy Cleveland Cavaliers
Pau Gasol San Antonio Spurs
E'Twaun Moore New Orleans Pelicans
Joakim Noah New York Knicks
Derrick Rose New York Knicks
Chicago Bulls Depth Chart
Rotation Player Projections
Rookie Denzel Valentine joins a cast of experienced NBA players to play minutes behind Wade and Butler. Standing in his way are Isaiah Canaan, Tony Snell, and Doug McDermott. All those players are flawed players, so it will be interesting to see if Valentine can emerge and carve himself out a nice 15-20 minute per game bench role. Not worth a selection early in the season, but if his college statistics give us any glimpse into what he can produce on the NBA court, if he gets minutes he will be valuable in deeper leagues.
Rise in Value
Nikola Mirotic was the darling of many fantasy analysts last season. They were projecting a breakout season given what was presumed to an increase in minutes to go along with Mirotic’s fantasy-friendly game. Mirotic only managed to be the 91st ranked player in 8 category leagues and 87th in 9 category leagues according to Basketball Monster, but with the departure of Noah and Gasol, the front-court minutes are wide open for Mirotic to shine. I project this is the season he finally returns top 50 value, so if you select him outside the top 50 it is a gamble worth taking.
Decrease in Value
Long the face of the franchise for the Miami Heat, Dwayne Wade comes home to Chicago to any interesting situation. Wade now has to share the ball with Rondo and Butler coming off a year where he played a career-low 30.5 minutes per game. The knees are not good and now he becomes an ancillary option. He rated 66th in 8 category leagues and 96th in 9 category leagues last season according to Basketball Monster, so no longer is Wade a staple of your team. I’d be hesitant to select Wade in the top 85 selections in 8 category leagues and I wouldn’t go for Wade as anything but a bench player in 9 category leagues.
Rajon Rondo had a comeback season last year with Kings ranking 22nd in 8 category leagues and 50th in 9 category leagues according to Basketball Monster. Let us not forget he rated 99th and 70th the 2 seasons before in 8 category leagues and 187th and 141st in 9 category leagues. With Wade and Butler in tow, I suspect we see more 2014-2015 or 2013-2014 Rondo than we do Sacramento Rondo. Rondo has always racked up the assists, but struggles with scoring, 3’s, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers (if you count those in your league). If you are desperate for the assists you can target Rondo, but I think a top 50 season would be the high water mark for Rondo this year and I am expecting more like 75-80 as the return you receive.
Wade played 74 games last season, the most he has played since 2010-2011. The knees are a major problem with Wade that isn’t going away. If you are projecting 70 games for Wade you are being generous. His average games played the last 5 season is 61.6 games. Wade is an elite talent, but he is also 34 now. Throw in the knee problems and I often pass on Wade and let someone else deal with the headache.
Jimmy Butler Super Human
Jimmy Butler has played 38.7, 38.7, and 36.9 minutes per game the last 3 season respectively. That is an incredible workout load even for a young player like Butler. He has returned 2nd round value the last 2 season and with Wade and Rondo around some people might be scared off and let him slip to round 3. If he does, pounce because you will be getting the ultimate plow horse and minutes is the key to fantasy glory.
Rajon Rondo Assist Hunter
Rajon Rondo loves assists more than you love your cat. In 2014-2015, he averaged 7.9 assists and that was a down year. If Rondo sees the court, he is going to produce assists, which may be the toughest category to fill. Usually, the waiver wire lacks options that will produce more than 3.5 or 4 assists per game giving Rondo a slight value boost. Remember what he talked about earlier, though, he hurts you in a lot of categories, so tread wisely.
Dwayne Wade Hall of Famer, but Fantasy Fright
We discussed Wade in detail throughout the column. My best advice is Wade is a big name and that usually leads to him being over-drafted, so let someone else take the early plunge and you target the Bulls next player where you could have safely picked Wade.
Nikola Mirotic Underrated
Nikola Mirotic stuffs the box score with per minute production in his career. He rated top 90 last year on Basketball Monster in both 8 and 9 category leagues playing 24.9 minutes a night. The increase in minutes and more offensive responsibility should lead to a nice mini-breakout season for Mirotic. With many owners being slightly burned by Mirotic last season, I could see him going as value by the time draft roll around. Draft with confidence this year and enjoy his fantastic season.
Robin Lopez Underrated
Robin Lopez was the 92nd rated player last year in 8 category leagues and 84th in 9 category according to Basketball Monster, yet I find he is usually on the waiver wire in shallow leagues. The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but Lopez is a very productive fantasy asset, so scoop him up in the last 2 rounds of your draft and enjoy his top 100 value he returns.
Denzel Valentine Dynasty Stash
According to Sports Reference, Valentine averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 assists, 7.5 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 0.2 blocks, and 3.4 3’s on 46.2% from the field and 85.3% from the line last season for the Michigan State Spartans. Valentine turns 23 years old in November, but those are some crazy stats and if he can sniff anything close to that he will be a fantasy monster. Try to acquire him on the cheap early in the season if he is out of the rotation and enjoy the future benefits in your dynasty league.