There were a lot of looming question marks for first-year executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley after a busy deadline for the Chicago Bulls as to what the future of one key fourth-year big would be. Former Arizona Wildcats power forward and seven-footer Lauri Markkanen currently sits in the midst of the final year of his rookie contract.
And with Markkanen being moved to the bench following a busy trade deadline day for Karnisovas and the Bulls back on March 25, his future looked very murky with this building team. The two key moves that wound up sending Markkanen to the bench were acquiring star big man Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic and two-way center Daniel Theis from the Boston Celtics.
Post-trade deadline, the Bulls were running with Vucevic as the starter at the five and veteran forward Thaddeus Young starting at the four. Vooch and Young made for a solid duo that was productive for the Bulls, especially in the last few games.
However, that left Markkanen largely in the dark as his previous running mate was shipped off to the Magic at the deadline. Third-year center Wendell Carter Jr. and Markkanen looked to be the future of the Bulls frontcourt not too long ago. But that picture has quickly faded for those two.
What about the Vucevic-Markkanen duo for the Chicago Bulls?
Something that actually worked out pretty well for first-year head coach Billy Donovan and the Bulls on April 6, in a comfortable double-digit win over the divisional foe Indiana Pacers, was the combination of Markkanen and Vooch on the floor.
Markkanen had a big night in the win over the Pacers. He registered 15 points in just 22 minutes off the bench, along with six rebounds, one steal, and one block. Markkanen also shot an efficient 5-of-7 from the field, 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, Vooch had a tremendous outing leading the Bulls to the win over a Pacers team without Domantas Sabonis or Malcolm Brogdon. He registered a game-high 32 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, no steals, and one block. Vooch shot 14-of-29 from the field, 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, and didn’t have any attempts from the free-throw line.
There were more than 10 minutes where both Vooch and Markkanen were on the floor in this game together. And it worked well for the Bulls. They combined for a +17 in this game, and each had efficient nights.
The main question moving forward will be what this duo could do for the Bulls and if Markkanen remains in the team’s future. This might just be a one-off, but it certainly looked good for Markkanen’s length and offensive versatility to compliment Vooch in the frontcourt.
Following their win over the Pacers on April 6, the Bulls now have a two-game winning streak built up. Their record now sits at 21-28 on the season. Next up for Vooch and the Bulls is a meeting with the Toronto Raptors on the road on April 8.