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A Path Forward for the Chicago BullsKabeer Chawla

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have a bright future ahead of them, led by their young core of Zach Lavine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter. They recently hired new GM Arturas Karnisovas, who eventually fired head coach Jim Boylen. Now, the Bulls can thrive under a new head coach, but there are still some decisions to be made.

Current Depth Chart

PG: Coby White

Backup PG: Kris Dunn

SG: Zach Lavine

Backup SG: Denzel Valentine

SF: Otto Porter Jr

Backup SF: Chandler Hutchison

PF: Lauri Markkanen

Backup PF: Thaddeus Young

Center: Wendell Carter

Backup Center: Daniel Gafford

Draft Pick

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls
Isaac Okoro, Tyrese Haliburton, and Obi Toppin all have cases to be the 4th best player in the draft and the 4th pick to the Bulls

The Bulls have selected at the 7th pick for 3 straight years, drafting 3 players that could be essential for their rebuild: Lauri Markkanen in 2017, Wendell Carter in 2018, and Coby White in 2019. This year, they had the odds of selecting 7 once again, but due to the Knicks and the Pistons dropping two picks, that led to the Bulls and the Hornets picking in the top 4 where Chicago got 4. It also depends on who the Timberwolves, Warriors, and Hornets draft above the Bulls, but the Bulls can snag someone great here. Here are 5 prospects they should look to draft.

5) Aaron Nesmith

Nesmith might not even be a top 10 pick, but his college performances in 14 games were great, averaging 23 PPG. He can also help the Bulls on defense and be their new starting small forward. However, teams might pass up on him because he wasn’t very durable in college and as good as Nesmith is, I don’t see him going in the top 5.

4) Tyrese Haliburton

A combo guard that can do it all are the perfect words to describe Haliburton. Haliburton’s defense and play making are among the best in the class and unlike Nesmith, I will be surprised if he falls outside of the top 10. Chicago might not want to take him though, because they already have an offensive and defensive-minded PG for the future in Coby White and Kris Dunn. Unless they want to trade Coby White, Haliburton won’t make sense for Chicago.

3) Deni Avdija

Avdija would fit in to be the Bulls starting small forward if the Bulls take him here. In Maccabi Tel Aviv last year, Avdija lead his team to the Euro-League championship, where he showed potential on offense and defense, which could be great for the Bulls to plug into their rotation. However, the Bulls might not want to draft him because he isn’t a primary scorer and has a similar play style to their starting PF Lauri Markkanen.

2) Obi Toppin

I personally think the Bulls should and will draft Toppin, but it might first require a trade of their current power forward. Toppin is a 6’9 big who can shoot, score from anywhere, and can put up highlight reels with his jaw-dropping dunks. Toppin didn’t play a lot of minutes at the SF and if they want to put him at the PF, then they might have to explore Lauri Markkanen to trade.

1) Isaac Okoro

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls
Okoro offensive stats might not be the best in the class, but his on-ball and perimeter defense is.

Obi Toppin is definitely the better offensive player, but Okoro is miles better on defense and would fit in better with Chicago. Okoro’s perimeter D and size would allow him to be immediately slotted into the Small Forward position. He’d help a poor defense and be one more player they can rely on to shoot the ball. The Bulls should take Toppin if they are taking best player available, but Okoro can play his role perfectly in Chicago.

Coaching Situation

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are looking for a new head coach after firing coach Jim Boylen after 2 seasons, but which coach would be able to coach a group of talented young guys?

Having suffered with poor coaching the past 4 seasons, the Bulls are finally looking for a head coach that can actually use their timeouts wisely. Here are 3 candidates Chicago should be looking at.

3) Nate McMillan

McMillan is one of the more experienced coaches in the NBA, getting his first head coaching job with the Seattle SuperSonics back in 2000, where he coached for 10 years. He then coached for Indiana for 4 years before being fired last month. Despite the firing, McMillan has had success (3rd place in Coach of the Year voting in 2018). However, he hasn’t coached a very young team like the Bulls before and we don’t know if the Bulls core can adjust to McMillan’s grit & grind coaching style.

2) Dave Joerger

Joerger has experience coaching a young core, having just led the Kings to a 40 win season in 2019. Joerger was the Kings head coach for 3 years before he got fired and even though his team never made the playoffs, he showed a lot of promise helping the growth of the young guys: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, and Bogdan Bogdanovic. He can be that same type of coach in Chicago if they sign him.

1) Kenny Atkinson

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls
Atkinson got fired this March, but he had his showing as a great coach back last year where the previously 28-54 Nets made it to the playoffs being the 6-seed

Atkinson would make the most sense for Chicago since he’s experienced, but he can also deal with the young guys really well. Atkinson has led questionable a Nets team filled with question marks to back-to-back playoff appearances. Artūras Karnisovas, the Bulls GM, has also said that Atkinson is the most fit for this job. Don’t be surprised if Atkinson is Chicago’s head coach next season.


A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls
Markkanen didn’t have that breakout season as expected and even though he still has tons of potential, the Bulls might look to trade him if they are pushing for the playoffs next season.

Chicago’s young talent is one of the best in the league, but it hasn’t lead to much success. Despite a lack of defensive prowess, the Bulls have many offensive weapons including 25 PPG scorer Zach Lavine and rookie PG Coby White. These 3 trades would help Chicago make the playoffs and be a threat for years to come.

Lauri Markkanen to the Suns

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls

Bulls Receive: Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, 2022 2nd Round Pick

Suns Receive: Lauri Markkanen, 44th overall pick

This trade would benefit both teams, especially the Bulls even though they are losing their starting PF and former 7th overall pick. The Bulls biggest weakness is their wing depth and defense. Getting Mikal Bridges to be their starting small forward would help their defense a lot. Cam Johnson plays a similar style to Markannen and could serve as another young weapon. He would either be their new starting PF, or be a backup to Thaddeus Young in case the Bulls want to go for more of a defensive route. For the Suns, even though they’re giving up on two lottery picks who played fantastic in the bubble, they get a better starting PF who would be a good fit next to De’Andre Ayton and give Phoenix another offensive weapon with Devin Booker. Overall, this is a win-win trade for both teams to help them make the playoffs next year.

Bulls package Markkanen, Satoransky, for more defense

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls

Magic Receive: Lauri Markkanen, Tomas Satoransky

Bulls Receive: Jonathan Isaac

Last year, this would’ve seemed like a horrible trade for the Bulls. At the time, they would’ve been giving up a future star for a player who is just a solid defender, but now, this would be a great deal for Chicago. Isaac was on pace to be an All-Defensive player this year and he could be Chicago’s main defender all while being an inside scoring threat. The Bulls have 3 quality point guards and letting go of veteran Tomas Satoransky will let Coby White and Kris Dunn flourish even more. Orlando might not want to give up on Isaac, but the Magic will possibly get a new starting PF, and a rotational PG. Isaac will fit in better with Chicago so if Orlando is willing to do this, this might be one of the best trades Chicago can get for Lauri.

Bulls trade down but get more wing depth

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls

Bulls Receive: #8 overall pick, Kevin Knox, 2021 1st round pick (Clippers)

Knicks Receive: #4 overall pick

This might seem like a bad trade for the Bulls because they’re trading down for not many assets, but they still get a top 10 pick and a young wing along with a future 1st. Kevin Knox didn’t have as good of a sophomore season than his rookie season, but he can get more of a role in Chicago since the Knicks have a lot of forwards. He could be the starting small forward for the future if they don’t trade or sign for another wing. As for the Knicks, they haven’t had the best luck with their recent draft picks, so they’ll probably do anything to trade up and giving Kevin Knox away to the Bulls would suffice.

Free Agency

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls
Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine are both restricted free agents coming off their rookie deal and the Bulls have to decide who they’ll bring back

The Free Agency period won’t be a major priority for Chicago, but Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine are testing the waters so those are the main guys they could bring back and maybe get some more assets. Here are 2 free agency moves the Bulls should make for the 2020-2021 season.

Bring Back Kris Dunn

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls
Kris Dunn is a restricted free agent and it’s up to the Bulls to decide if they want to match a offer Dunn gets

Dunn’s contract is up and I think the Bulls should definitely look to bring him back to be a part of the Bulls rebuild. He isn’t the best offensive player, but he is without question, the best defender on this Bulls team averaging 2 steals a game, 2nd in the NBA. Some teams might throw Dunn some big money, but I think the Bulls should offer him a contract even before free agency. He can also switch to the shooting guard position because of his versatile defense. He might not be living up to the 5th overall pick where he was selected, but he has potential to be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.

If they don’t trade for a wing, go after Joe Harris

A Path Forward for the Chicago Bulls
Harris’s shooting is one of the best in the league and he can be a good veteran for this young Bulls team if the Nets don’t bring him back

Harris has really proven himself in the past 2 years, being one of the best shooters in the league and Chicago could use that. I mentioned a lot of moves that would really help their wing depth, but if they can’t make those trades, Harris seems like the guy to go after in free agency. Harris could be a better catch & shoot piece for the Bulls offense, and will be able to be a clutch shooter. If the Bulls end up signing Kenny Atkinson, this would make for an even better fit, pairing the shooter with his former coach.

The Bulls will have a lot of moves to make and if they get another coach and a better, younger lineup, then Chicago can be a playoff team for years to come.

Kabeer talks about the NBA on his channel


After firing head coach Jim Boylen, the Bulls are looking in a good position, but there are still a lot of things that need to be addressed.

Last modified: October 20, 2020
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