The Chicago Bulls have an exciting young team, though their rebuild is not yet complete.
Chicago billionaire and current team owner Jerry Reinsdorf have been with the Bulls since the 1980s. In April 2020, Chicago fired General Manager Gar Forman and hired Marc Eversley as his replacement. The team is still in search of a head coach after firing Jim Boylen in August 2020.
The Bulls are a young team that continues to get better each season. Coby White was drafted as the 7th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. The rookie had an exciting first season and averaged 18.5 points per 36 minutes for his first NBA season. White largely had a bench role for the Bulls, but, in the future, he could very well be a starter. He needs to improve his passing and defensive effort, but the athletic tools and scoring ability are there.
Zach LaVine is under contract into the 2021-22 season. The offensive star averaged 26.4 points per 36 minutes last season and has shown steady growth as a player. Reminiscent of the high flying Jordan with his above the rim play, LaVine appears to be the Bulls’ franchise player moving forward, though he has yet to make an All-Star selection.
After losing Jimmy Butler, the Bulls have been rebuilding their roster over the past three seasons. Butler and the 16th in the 2017 NBA Draft were traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for LaVine, Kris Dunn, and 7th pick in the 2017 NBA draft. With the 7th pick, the Bulls selected sharp-shooting Lauri Markkanen.
All three players remain with the Bulls and the franchise continues to see growth. Markkanen has averaged 19.0 and 8.9 rebounds per 36 minutes with the Bulls since he was drafted. Dunn has given the Bulls 28.1 minutes per game and solid guard defense since the acquisition.
Remarkably, last season, the Bulls had their highest regular-season winning percentage (.338) and defensive rating (109.8) since the 2016-17 season. To be clear, these are not high numbers, they’re just an improvement on some even worse numbers in the previous seasons.
The Bulls are still developing their team identity with their young squad. Chicago has resisted bringing in veteran players to combine with their developing group. Long term, this may well pay dividends for the Bulls as they try to move up the ladder in the Eastern Conference, as this kind of experience for young players can be extremely valuable.
After six championships in the 1990s under the leadership of Michael Jordan, the Bulls are under immense pressure to return to their winning ways as a franchise. Their loyal fanbase is waiting for the return of the Bulls’ glory years, or even for the Derrick Rose-Joakim Noah Bulls teams of the early 2010s. Despite Chicago not making the playoffs last season, the United Center still had the fourth-best attendance in the NBA.
The 1990’s Bulls are considered to be some of the greatest teams in NBA history. They include the legendary 1995-96 Bulls that won 72 games during the regular season following Jordan’s return to basketball. That same season, Jordan won league MVP and lead the league in scoring, averaging 30.4 points per game.
However, as many Chicago fans know, the 1990s Bulls were not just great because of Jordan. Those teams featured head coach Phil Jackson, two-way star Scottie Pippen, and some of the best role players in NBA history, including Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, and Toni Kukoč. They provided some of the unique grittiness and toughness that made the Bulls arguably the best defensive team in NBA history. It also helped to have Jordan and Pippen, two of the best athletes and most tenacious competitors to ever lace up a pair of sneakers.
After Jordan’s retirement, the Bulls struggled for a while before drafting Rose in 2008. He would go up to be league MVP and lead Chicago to a 62-20 win-loss record in his third season. Ultimately, that Bulls season ended when they lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Lebron James and Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat.
There is no doubt the Bulls will return to NBA relevance as their core of young players continues to develop.
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