Who should the Chicago Bulls start at PG in Lonzo Ball’s absence?

Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

With starting point guard Lonzo Ball recently undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, the Chicago Bulls will have to sort through plenty of unknowns regarding their backcourt. Not only is Ball’s status for the upcoming season yet to be determined, but who will exactly take his spot in the rotation is as well.

Replacing Ball’s skill set will be nearly impossible. His season averages of 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game may seem modest at first, but Ball’s impact on the Bulls, both offensively and defensively, went well beyond the stat sheet.

First of all, in a league filled with scorers, players who can influence games without taking many shots are hard to come by, but they sure are valuable. With each of the Bulls’ top three players in DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic being score-first players, having a point guard who was able to dish them the ball without taking away from their shot attempts was vital to the team’s early success.

Additionally, Ball has gained a reputation as one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball. His size and athleticism also give him the ability to guard multiple positions. It’s no coincidence Chicago’s defensive efficiency took a massive step back in his absence.

Finally, Ball’s continued improvement in his shooting has made him an increasingly valuable weapon on offense. He shot 42.3% from behind the arc last season in over seven attempts a game. This helped a weak 3-point shooting team like the Chicago Bulls maintain their offensive balance, as Ball would make defenses pay when they keyed in on LaVine or DeRozan.

The Chicago Bulls will have no shortage of options to replace the injured Lonzo Ball at point guard.

If we’re being honest, there is no replacing Ball. His unique skill set made him the perfect fit for the current Bulls roster. With that said, the Bulls will have no choice but to make do with what they have for the foreseeable future. Most notably, Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, and Alex Caruso saw time as starters last season after Ball’s injury. All of these players will continue to have larger roles with Ball out of the lineup, but how much larger will depend on the direction Billy Donovan decides to go.

All three players offer distinct yet valuable skills to the table, and how they are used will be a matter of personal preference. Entering his fourth season, Coby White has the most playing time with Chicago of the trio. However, that may actually work to his disadvantage. Coby has had plenty of opportunities to mesh with the starters, and he hasn’t.

In fact, one of the main factors in the Bulls’ decision to sign Ball in the 2021 offseason was White’s failed experiment as the team’s starting point guard. White’s biggest strength has always been his scoring upside, but it may not be enough of a strength to make up for the lack of defensive and playmaking ability. White’s game seems to project better coming off the bench than in the starting lineup.

Ayo Dosunmu turned heads in his rookie season. Despite being a second-round selection, Dosunmu was named to the all-rookie second team. His all-around game made him a valuable contributor to the Bulls bench and even led to him starting 40 games. Dosunmu’s offensive efficiency set him apart from the rest of the team’s reserves. Shooting 52% from the field and 37.6% from three.

These numbers would be very good for any rookie guard, but that’s especially true for a second-round pick. Dosunmu may not have a single signature skill, but he checks pretty much every box, and it’s reasonable to think we could see some significant growth from him in his second season.

Alex Caruso captured the hearts of fans across the league when he entered the NBA as a Laker. But beyond all the memes, he proved last season that he is indeed a very good basketball player. Caruso is the perfect example of a player who understands his job and executes it to perfection. Hard nose defense and plays in transition are exactly what led to Caruso landing a hefty contract for a role player with the Bulls. With Ball out of the lineup, there will be more pressure on Caruso defensively, and that could lead to him getting the starting nod.

Regardless of what the Bulls decide to do at point guard, all three players will play a pivotal role in the 2022-23 season. As mentioned before, no individual player can replace Ball, but the Bulls could at least compensate for some of that loss through the aggregate. All three players have aspects of their games that are at least comparable to Ball’s.

Additionally, newcomers Goran Dragic and Dalen Terry may see more playing time this year. With all the unknowns, there is one thing that is certain, the Chicago Bulls will have plenty of options to choose from.

Next. ESPN ranks Bulls among East's worst teams for 2022-23. dark