The Chicago Bulls have some decent players on their current roster. It’s obvious who their best player is, but who’s their second-best guy?
Zach LaVine is clearly the Chicago Bulls’ best player. He’s the only guy who you can trust on the offensive end night in and night out. He averaged an elite 25.5 points per game on .450/.380/.802 shooting splits. He was close to being an All-Star. He’s not perfect, but he’s pretty far ahead of every other player Chicago has.
When it comes to who the second-best player on the team is, things aren’t so clear.
Candidates for the Bulls’ second-best player
There are four players up for consideration:
Otto Porter Jr.
Prior to the 2019-20 season, the answer would’ve been Otto Porter Jr. In his 15 games for the Bulls in 2018-19, he was sensational, establishing himself as a legitimate offensive threat and a solid defender. He put up 17.5 points per game on ridiculous .483/.488/.906 shooting splits.
This season, though, in a similar sample size (14 games), he was underwhelming, to say the least. He averaged a measly 11.9 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting from the field (his worst since his rookie season), 38.7 percent shooting from 3-point land (his worst since the 2015-16 season), and 70.4 percent from the free-throw line (his worst since his rookie season).
If Porter can stay healthy during the 2020-2021 season, he has as a good chance of cementing himself as the Bulls’ second-best player. But for now, he’s eliminated from the running.
Sadly, I can tell you right now Lauri Markkanen isn’t going to win this little mini-contest.
Going into the 2019-20 season, he would’ve been a close runner-up to Porter. Now, after a miserable season, some fans are wondering if Markkanen even has a future in Chicago.
Lauri’s struggles are well-documented. He can’t stay healthy. He disappears for long stretches at a time. And he doesn’t get to the rim enough. Skill-wise, he’s definitely the Bulls’ second-best player, but until he puts everything together, he’ll be hanging out in the 3-5 range.
Wendell Carter Jr.
Wendell Carter Jr. has some of the same problems Markkanen has. He’s far too passive on offense and he can’t stay healthy. The difference between Markkanen and Carter is the Bulls don’t need Carter to score at the level they need Makrkanen to score at. Obviously, they need Carter to score, but if he can provide 12-16 points per game, the team will be set. Markkanen needs to be in the 17-21 range.
Defense is Carter’s calling card. That’s where he makes his presence known. He’s an elite shot-blocker. He rotates well. His defensive IQ is amazingly high for a 21-year-old. And he moves his feet well for a big man.
Carter is still in the running.
Prior to February, Coby White would’ve been nowhere near this discussion. Now, he’s a legitimate candidate to be named the Bulls’ second-best player.
Over the first 3-4 months of White’s rookie season, he showed promise but was understandably inconsistent. You can imagine how difficult it would be to be an offensive-minded rookie point guard in Jim Boylen’s system.
But then, in mid-February, White turned into a human flamethrower. Here’s his game log for his final nine games of the season:
- 33 points/2 assists/3 rebounds
- 33 points/2 assists/6 rebounds
- 35 points/3 assists/7 rebounds
- 22 points/3 assists/2 rebounds
- 19 points/5 assists/6 rebounds
- 26 points/6 assists/1 rebound
- 26 points/6 assists/2 rebounds
- 21 points/8 assists/6 rebounds
- 20 points/5 assists/5 rebounds
Oh yeah, and all of that was on .480/.432/.903 shooting splits. That’s, uh… phenomenal. Actually, phenomenal isn’t a good enough word to describe how impressive that is for a rookie point guard in Jim Boylen’s system. I’m not sure there’s a word that accurately represents how impressive those numbers are.
Coby’s still in the running.
We’re down to Wendell Carter Jr. and Coby White. Who’s the second-best guy on the team?
It’s tough. Carter’s proven over the course of two seasons everything he brings. He’s consistent and elite on the defensive end of the floor. He’s capable on offense. But he can’t stay healthy. White’s still a bit of a mystery. Right when he was breaking out, the season got suspended due to COVID-19.
But I have to go with what I saw at the end of the season, which was Coby White torching everyone he played, showing growth as a playmaker and flashing an above-average level of defending.
Coby White is the second-best player on the Bulls.