Only real question facing Bulls is how do they get better?

  • This is the year the Chicago Bulls rebuild needs to start taking shape. A major piece of that will be whether guard Zach LaVine (8) can take the big step needed to reach stardom.

    This is the year the Chicago Bulls rebuild needs to start taking shape. A major piece of that will be whether guard Zach LaVine (8) can take the big step needed to reach stardom. Associated Press File Photo/Feb. 2019

Updated 9/29/2019 7:00 PM

The task ahead for the Bulls seems pretty straightforward -- get better.

However they get there doesn't really matter, just finish closer to 40 wins than 20 wins.


This is the year when the rebuild needs to genuinely seem like a smart idea; when Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen need to take that giant step toward stardom, when an injury here or there doesn't cripple the team's performance.

So with training camp set to begin -- media day is Monday, the opening practice on Tuesday -- are there really any questions to be answered? Most every important question is tied to the bottom line, which will be settled in March or April.

The only real preseason question is how the lineup will fit together. The Bulls added some new pieces in veteran forward Thaddeus Young, guard Tomas Satoransky, center Luke Kornet, and rookies Coby White and Daniel Gafford, and all figure to have some sort of role.

The one legitimate position battle is probably at point guard, since even though the Bulls loaded up on potential replacements, it appears Kris Dunn will stay on the team for now.

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Common senses suggests Satoransky is the best fit as the starting point guard. The 6-foot-7 Satoransky has logged three seasons in Washington, played well for the Czech Republic at the FIBA World Cup this month, and figures to be a guy who can help elevate LaVine's performance.

At the end of last season, Dunn vowed to return in the fall as a better 3-point shooter, so we'll find out soon how that turned out. White didn't show many signs of being NBA-ready during summer league, so it doesn't seem likely he'll be thrown into a major role right away.

But already the Bulls are wondering if Satoransky might be needed as the backup 3, since Chandler Hutchison is expected to miss at least two weeks of preseason with a hamstring injury. So while the starting lineup appears mostly set in stone, the supporting cast tweaks will be a bigger challenge.

Expect Jim Boylen, heading into his first training camp as a head coach, to try plenty of experiments during the next couple of months. Young was a starter on Indiana's overachieving playoff teams the past two years. The Bulls want him on the court, so he needs to be more than Markkanen's backup at power forward.


Can Young, 31, survive at small forward? Maybe for brief stretches, but he's always excelled as a fast-moving, matchup problem at power forward. What about Young at the four with Markkanen moving over to play center? The Bulls will probably give that a shot, but it depends on the opponent. It might not work against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid or Detroit's Andre Drummond.

The Bulls are hoping second-year center Wendell Carter Jr. can resume his defensive-anchor role after recovering from the thumb injury that knocked him out at midseason. Carter is back at full speed after having surgery to repair a core muscle issue in July.

Boylen will have plenty of options. He could turn to Kornet into a stretch-five or use the more athletic Gafford for a boost of energy on the second unit.

Denzel Valentine is back after missing last season to recover from ankle surgery. Can he be the consistent 3-point threat the Bulls sorely need? It may turn out Valentine is the primary backup to Otto Porter Jr. at small forward.

Boylen may try to get White minutes at shooting guard. He'll probably resume the experiment of letting Dunn be a primary scorer on the second unit. Ryan Arcidiacono and Shaq Harrison could see limited playing time early in the season, then take on significant roles as needed.

The theory is the Bulls will be better suited to deal with injuries, and hopefully won't have as many as last year. Then savvy veterans like Young, Porter and Satoransky can help the younger players learn how to win.

Will Bulls fans need to relearn how to watch the team win? Well, it hasn't been that long, so the fans should be fine. The players might need a little time to perfect the art of winning NBA games.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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