Should any Chicago Bulls players follow Damian Lillard’s lead?

If the NBA comes back and the Chicago Bulls can’t make the playoffs, should the key players still play?

If the NBA comes back, it’s hard to imagine any scenario that would warrant them jumping right into the playoffs. Players will need a few games to get their game legs back and shake off the pandemic rust. So what if some teams don’t have a chance of making the playoffs but they have to play a few meaningless regular seasons games?

Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard had some interesting thoughts on the NBA’s potential return recently that he shared with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team. But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that in there.”

That got me thinking, should any members of the Chicago Bulls adopt Lillard’s mentality?

If there’s no shot of making the playoffs, some Bulls players should play, some shouldn’t

The Bulls don’t have any bona fide superstars like Damian Lillard, so whether or not individual members of the team should play isn’t as clear as it is for Lillard and his situation in Portland.

Zach LaVine, the Bulls’ leading scorer and best player, is one guy that wouldn’t benefit at all from returning for a few meaningless games. We know what LaVine has at this point in his career. He’s an incredibly gifted scorer, a tough competitor and a good teammate. He needs to work on team defense and playmaking. A few games back won’t change anything for him.

Plus, LaVine plays with an absurd level of athleticism. Asking him to fly threw the lane and absorb contact at the rim would just be silly if the team doesn’t have anything to gain from it. Let’s just keep Zach healthy and focus on next year.

A couple of other guys that fall into the same camp as LaVine are Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Unlike Zach, both of those young big men could actually use those few games to improve their individual talents. However, similar to Zach, it’s not worth the risk of injury. Both Carter and Markkanen have been injury-prone over their young NBA careers, so asking them to risk further injury would be foolish.

The most interesting Bull to keep an eye on during the NBA return (if it happens) is Coby White.

White came on strong over the last month of the season and if he can get a few extra games to play the point guard position against other NBA teams, that would be extremely useful. Other guys that would be worth trotting out onto the court for a few games: Denzel Valentine, Chandler Hutchison and Daniel Gafford. Let’s see what all of those guys can do in expanded roles.

Of course, if there’s even a fraction of a chance that the Bulls can sneak into the playoffs in whatever format the NBA rolls out, then all of the players should play. No questions asked.

Next: 5 role players to target in the 2020 NBA Draft
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