Building a rotation in new era of Chicago Bulls basketball

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls smashed the rebuild button harder than someone mashing buttons in a game of Street Fighter. So, what’s their rotation going to look like next season with all of the new faces?

The big question going into the draft from my seat was if the reset button needed to be hit on a complete rebuild for the Chicago Bulls. The answer turned out to be yes, and the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler away. An argument can be made on the return, but the decision to hit the reset button was justified as the Bulls needed to build this roster up to look at a contending team in 2-3 years.

Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen are a foundation that could really pay off now that the rebuild has begun. John Paxson has talked in the past about the need for a dynamic point guard who can push the pace on offense and get the team out in transition along with getting the ball out to shooters. He also expressed a desire for this point guard to be a good on the ball defender. Coming into the 2016 NBA Draft, the Bulls were very high on Kris Dunn for exactly these reasons and were even in talks to get him. One year later, they now have their man.

Markkanen fits the bill that the Bulls desire in terms of a big that can step out and shoot the 3 along with an ability to handle the ball and create off the bounce. As his body matures, seeing Markkanen as a small-ball 5 in this era of NBA basketball is reasonable. His ability to defend is the biggest question mark moving forward, but we know of his ability to hit 3s and spread the court and there’s always value in that. His fit defensively with Nikola Mirotic is certainly a question, but perhaps Mirotic can be a bridge player until Markkanen is ready to step into a larger role down the road. The length of the contract that Mirotic ends up signing is key to me because of his fit with Markkanen.

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LaVine is certainly an interesting talent as well. His 3-point shooting and his efficient scoring is intriguing fit as the Bulls move forward. His athleticism is endless, but also a question mark coming off of his ACL injury. On a team devoid of scoring after the Butler trade, LaVine will have an opportunity to score the basketball once he returns.

LaVine is not known as a solid defender, however Kris Dunn is and once those two are cemented as the starting backcourt duo, I imagine Dunn will be the primary guard defender on the opposing team’s best guard scorer. Dunn has the size at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds to defend either guard spot.

That brings me to building a rotation moving forward. The key thing to remember in a rebuild that the lineup that starts a lot this year will not be the lineup that starts in 2-3 years when the Bulls are ready to be a playoff contender. These three pieces will be starters and finding the right pieces around those three are the vital decisions that the Bulls front office will have to make. All expectations are that a top-5 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft will be coming the Bulls’ way as the team will be fortunate to win 30 games this coming season.

A potential good fit to get with that pick that would fit our roster well might be Michael Porter Jr. or DeAndre Ayton, two athletic bigs with big-time defensive potential that could play opposite of Markkanen up front. Porter with Markkanen and then Portis and Felicio behind them is a solid foundation to build upon. Those four offer a lot of shooting ability and positional versatility that would give Fred Hoiberg a lot of lineup options.

To go with Dunn and LaVine on the perimeter, the Bulls already have Paul Zipser in place, who showed real potential in his rookie season as a 3-and-D wing that can shoot the ball, is a solid passer with high basketball IQ and can defend talented scorers in the league. The development of Denzel Valentine as a wing that can come off the bench, score the ball and make smart basketball decisions is important this season. The Bulls need to see if they can fill that role.

Also, getting a good look at Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant as guards that can backup Dunn and LaVine and fill a lead guard role for the second unit is also key to this season being a success. That’s not even including the return of Justin Holiday in Chicago, too.

That is what this season is about: development. The Bulls needed to find out what they have in some of these young players to properly assess the situation.

Next: Bulls officially name Las Vegas Summer League roster

Going into July of 2018 with a monster amount of cap space with a young and talented roster could be quite appealing to free agents especially considering cap space will be in short supply and if the young Bulls have shown significant upside, Bulls fans could be looking at making a big splash next July in free agency that could really springboard this rebuild much quicker than the national media is expecting.