The Chicago Bulls started this season with a dismal 5-14 record, and their brand of basketball was verging on unwatchable. The team was looking as though it was in the worst possible position, as it had gone all in on a big three that had a limited ceiling, while also having little assets to rebuild.
Despite this, the Bulls have found new life over the last 12 games, going 9-3 with wins against some of the best teams in the NBA, including the Bucks, Heat, and the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers. More impressive, though, is they have gone on this run without Zach LaVine. Instead of relying upon the experienced veterans, this run has come on the backs of significantly increased production from Chicago's young core.
3 young Bulls players have proven they can be franchise cornerstones moving forward.
After watching the Bulls over the last two years since making big moves, it is clear that the lead trio of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic is not working, and Chicago cannot be a contender if their roster is built around these three. However, these players still have the ability to garner significant trade value, as the Bulls can gather strong assets to either rebuild or add a true number-one option to the team.
The current roster reminds me of the 2016-17 team, where the Bulls had their three alphas: Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo. They built around these stars but did not give promising young players like Bobby Portis the time to develop, and Portis was able to find the best days of his career on another team. The Bulls cannot afford to repeat these mistakes with these three young players, as they are proving that they can be vital players for the future of the Bulls.
3. Ayo Dosunmu
Ayo Dosunmu is currently in his third season in the league, and his time with his hometown team has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Ayo had a great rookie season, averaging 9 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds per game on 52% shooting from the field and 38% from long-range. Last season, however, Dosunmu experienced a sophomore slump, where his shooting splits dipped and his utility on the offensive end was diminished.
This season, he is looking better in a smaller role with less pressure. Over the last 13 games, he is averaging 10.3 points on 49.1% shooting, while looking more comfortable on the offensive end.
He has also been playing tremendous defense, which has been his bread and butter. Ayo has shown that he has a great motor and defensive instincts, which forced Billy Donovan to keep him in the rotation at the beginning of the season, and this has been a big reason why he has kept a significant role with the team.
Dosunmu is still definitely a work in progress, as evidenced by games like his 26-minute cardio game on December 11 vs. Milwaukee, where he failed to record any points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, or turnovers. The key here is consistency, as he has shown flashes of being a solid long-term piece, but he needs to make it a habit.