What to make of the Bulls' preseason

  • The Bulls finished the preseason with a 2-3 record and a few vague clues about how things could go when the regular season begins Wednesday in Charlotte.

    The Bulls finished the preseason with a 2-3 record and a few vague clues about how things could go when the regular season begins Wednesday in Charlotte. Associated press

Updated 10/18/2019 6:40 PM

Even the shortened NBA preseason can seem too long.

The Bulls completed the exhibition portion of their schedule Thursday with the best news imaginable -- no player has suffered a long-term injury.


So the rebuild is on the right track heading into Wednesday's season-opener at Charlotte. Since no one should feel obligated to watch preseason games, here are a few takes on where the Bulls stand:

They have scorers

As of Friday morning, the Bulls had two of the league's top-10 scorers in preseason -- Zach LaVine at 23.3 points and rookie Coby White with 19.2.

Preseason or not, LaVine's scoring touch was impressive. He tallied 93 points in 96 minutes, shot 59.3 percent from the field overall and 56 percent from 3-point range (14-for-25).

LaVine finishing as a top-5 scorer in the league seems to have potential, but that figured to be the case heading into training camp. White's scoring was more of a surprise.

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The No. 7 overall pick out of North Carolina hit just 3 of 30 shots from 3-point range at the Las Vegas summer league. That's why expectations were relatively low, but it also suggests his 43-percent 3-point shooting in preseason may not stand up in real games. But White is a confident scorer who seems ready to bring offensive punch off the bench.

"He's going to be special," LaVine said after Thursday's game. "He knows it; we know it. He's had one of the best rookie camps I've seen. He's fearless, not scared of anything, not scared of the moment."

Balance is needed

While LaVine and White looked good in preseason, everyone else was a question mark. Center Wendell Carter played in just two games due to an injury, but looked more like his old self in the second quarter against Atlanta. Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. had some good moments, but were inconsistent.

Point guard Tomas Satoransky is still getting to know his new teammates, but his style should be helpful because he's always looking to make plays for others. Newcomer Thaddeus Young didn't look great in preseason and may not be someone who needs to be on the court late in games, although his defensive rating was solid.


The second unit looked pretty good because White was such a successful scorer. If he cools off, the Bulls will need more from Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono or Luke Kornet. For now, Denzel Valentine is not in the rotation, but figures to get a chance soon.

One record will be set

The Bulls averaged 39.4 shots from 3-point range during preseason. The franchise high was 31.1 set two years ago. Jim Boylen and his coaching staff seem determined to smash through that number.

Whether this turns out to be a good idea remains to be seen. The Bulls' 3-point percentage of .325 in preseason ranks 19th in the league. Dunn (2 for 13) has shown no signs of an improved shot. Young (1-for-8) has been cold. But if you consider that three guys destined for Windy City (Adam Mokoka, Milton Doyle and Justin Simon) were a combined 0-for-20, the Bulls' 3-point percentage rises to .362, which would rank ninth for preseason.

This could mean nothing

As a general rule, NBA preseason games are pretty useless. This slate was a rough one for the Bulls because there were so few occasions when their starters went against an opponent's starters.

It basically happened just once, in Game 2 against New Orleans and pre-knee injury Zion Williamson. Milwaukee rested most of its starters, the Bulls took a break against Indiana and Toronto sat all its starters. Atlanta played most of the starters on Thursday, but those guys played little, if at all, in the second half.

Starting Wednesday, teams will keep their best players on the floor and draw up game plans to slow down LaVine and White. Promising preseason signals can evaporate quickly.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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