Chicago Bulls try not to sweat whether win streak could ruin the rebuild

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bulls' Bobby Portis signals after his three-point basket as Boston Celtics' Daniel Theis follows during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bulls' Bobby Portis signals after his three-point basket as Boston Celtics' Daniel Theis follows during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, in Chicago.

  • Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg reacts late in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The Pacers defeated the Bulls 98-96.

    Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg reacts late in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The Pacers defeated the Bulls 98-96.

 
 
Updated 12/12/2017 10:12 PM

During Year One of the Chicago Bulls' rebuild, this is a legitimate question: Is a three-game winning streak good news or bad?

The object of any rebuilding project is to become a championship contender down the road, so a high draft pick would help more than a few victories, in theory.

 

A week ago, the Bulls were way out in front for the league's worst record, but now they've tightened the race considerably.

After Monday's victory over Boston, the Bulls and Atlanta were tied for the worst record, pending the Hawks' game in Cleveland on Tuesday. Six teams still had single-digit wins heading into Tuesday's action, and not one of them has a player like Zach LaVine waiting in the wings to take the court in a few weeks.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was asked about the draft situation following Monday's win.

"We've tried to shut everything out about that," he said. "We come in every day and talk about win or lose, taking steps in the right direction. We're not thinking that way."

Obviously, it's a coach's job to construct a winning game plan every night. It's good news for the Bulls when their young players show positive growth.

"It really doesn't even bother me," said Kris Dunn, one of the young guys who is playing well. "That kind of talk, you can't control it. The media, the fans and everybody else, that's on them. Right now, we're just trying to play good basketball."

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

There are a few things to keep in mind here. For one, posting the NBA's worst record doesn't guarantee the top pick. More often than not, the worst team doesn't get the No. 1 spot in the draft lottery.

In previous Bulls rebuilding history, they won a pitiful 15 and 13 games and netted the No. 4 overall picks in 2000 (Marcus Fizer) and 2001 (Eddy Curry).

Yes, next year's draft looks strong at the top. There already have been impressive performances from Duke's Marvin Bagley, Arizona's DeAndre Ayton and Real Madrid's Luka Doncic. But there will be more than three good players in the next draft.

Maybe someone with the shot-blocking potential of Texas center Mo Bamba would fit the Bulls. Missouri's Michael Porter, out for the season with a back injury, possibly could be the best player in the draft.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Keep in mind, two of the best rookies in the 2017 draft class right now are Utah's Donovan Mitchell and the Lakers' Kyle Kuzma. Mitchell was chosen 13th and Kuzma 27th.

The Bulls might be kicking themselves later for not losing now, but it's impossible to predict what will happen.

Winning more games could make the Bulls a more attractive target for free agents next summer, so the rebuild isn't only about the draft. As it stands now, the Bulls will have about $35 million in cap space, which could grow if they trade Robin Lopez or don't retain Nikola Mirotic.

They also need to use that cap space to re-sign LaVine, who figures to command a deal worth at least $20 million per season. David Nwaba also has become a player the Bulls will want to re-sign.

Free agents won't be excited about joining a 20-win team. But if the Bulls build on their recent success, a nucleus of LaVine, Dunn and Lauri Markkanen may attract someone looking to change teams.

The Bulls might also change perceptions about the rebuild. They could have an interesting lineup, pairing some great athletes such as Dunn, LaVine and Nwaba with outside-shooting big men Markkanen, Mirotic and Bobby Portis.

The Bulls would need to clear some cap room to become a contender for the biggest free agents next summer.

More than winning a few games, their biggest regret might turn out to be signing little-used backup center Cristiano Felicio for $32 million over four years last summer.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBull

0 Comments
 

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.