Chicago Bulls 2018-19 season preview: Cameron Payne

Chicago Bulls guard Cameron Payne is coming off a career season. How does the young point guard fit in with the new roster?

When the Chicago Bulls made a trade to bring in Cameron Payne from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bulls fans had mixed feelings about the move. Some people thought Payne had some serious potential, while others felt like he didn’t even belong in the NBA.

We’re now heading into the second full season of the Cameron Payne experiment and we’re still trying to get a feel for what he can do on the court.

Last season, the Bulls point guard rotation was a mess. Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne were both injured to start the season which left Jerian Grant with the majority of the ball-handling duties. Once Dunn returned, he battled Grant for the starting spot (and eventually won). Finally, once Payne returned, he took over the role as the primary backup point guard. In the 2018-19 season, things will hopefully be a little more clear from the beginning.

This summer, Jerian Grant was traded to the Orlando Magic in a 3-team deal, simplifying the Bulls point guard rotation. Another thing that helped the Bulls get clarity with their point guard situation was the impressive play of Kris Dunn.

During the 2017-18 season, Dunn averaged 13.4 points, 6.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game on 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 32.1 percent shooting from 3-point land. Sure, he could be more efficient, but he won’t be losing his starting spot to Cameron Payne anytime soon.

Payne’s real competition comes from Ryan Arcidiacono. Both Payne and Arcidiacono are 24 years old and developing into quality backup point guards. Last season, Payne got almost twice as many minutes per game as Arcidiacono, but last season the Bulls were also trying to lose games. I’m not trying to say that the Bulls were holding back Ryan Arcidiacono so he wouldn’t accidentally win them 50 games or anything, I’m just saying last year isn’t the best reference for everything.

In the 2018-19 season, Dunn is expected to be the starter for all 82 games (assuming he stays healthy), so Payne needs to focus on proving he can lead the second unit – that’s how he’ll remain effective in the league.

Last season, Payne averaged 8.8 points, 4.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game on 40.5 percent shooting from the field and 38.5 percent shooting from 3. Payne’s defense and decision making needs to improve, but he still shows a lot of skill on the offensive end, leaving fans hopeful.

The 2018-19 NBA season should provide the NBA world with the most Cameron Payne minutes they’ve ever seen. Will he prove to be a quality backup point guard that the Bulls should keep around for years to come, or will the Bulls let him walk next summer and explore other options?

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Projected 2018-19 stat line: 8.0 PPG / 3.5 APG / 2.0 RPG / 42.5% FG / 40.0% 3FG