Predicting the Chicago Bulls' 2024-25 starting lineup

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Just days away from the calendar flipping to another new year full of potential, the Chicago Bulls find themselves in a tricky situation. Two years ago, the Bulls looked like championship contenders on New Year's Day. One year ago, they looked like a total disaster. Now? Well, it's complicated.

Stumbling out of the gate to a horrid 5-14 record, the Bulls have since found their footing and are playing like a real team again. As a result, they've posted an impressive 9-4 record in their last 13 games, granting fans just a little hope that this season won't be a lost cause once again.

But if so much could change in such a short amount of time, there's no telling how this team might look by the time next season rolls around. That won't stop me from trying, however, as I believe the Bulls' current success and future payroll help narrow things down when it comes to predicting their starting lineup past this season.

Predicting the Chicago Bulls' 2024-25 starting lineup

PG: Tyus Jones

As the talent pool in the NBA steadily rises by the year, so does the need for a quality playmaker to run the offense through and create better looks for his teammates. Even replacement-level point guards such as Mike Conley, Dennis Schroder, and Reggie Jackson have all been very successful in their roles with new teams. Although the Bulls have collected a few above-average playmakers, they're still lacking a true floor general to fulfill the role they had once hoped Lonzo Ball could.

With that in mind, I'd like to (once again) propose Tyus Jones as the perfect free agent point guard addition for Chicago.

Barring any significant trades, the Bulls will once again be very limited in the amount of cap space they have at their disposal. Jones could solve their issues while remaining within Chicago's realistic budget. Consistently holding one of the NBA's best assist-to-turnover ratios, Tyus has also added a deadly three-point shot to his game, currently shooting 42.5% from long-range this season and 38.6% over the last three years.

He's no Lonzo, but he might be the next best thing. If the Bulls can land a player in free agency like Tyus who doesn't need to take many shots to produce and specializes in making his teammates better, I'd consider that an overwhelming success.

SG: Coby White

If the last month of December basketball has taught us anything, it's that Coby White is ready to shake loose the shackles and have his breakout moment. Since the Bulls lost Zach LaVine to injury, Coby has stepped up to become everything the Bulls hoped he'd be and then some.

Averaging 23.4 points, 6.4 assists, and 6.2 rebounds over his last 13 games while simultaneously playing solid defense, this level of production may be unsustainable. Still, it's been a very real glimpse into what Coby can become if the Bulls make him their priority moving forward.

Speaking of priorities, Coby could be in line to be the full-time starter next year even if he doesn't finish the season out all that strong. I'm not entirely confident the Bulls will manage to find an equitable deal ahead of this year's trade deadline, but it appears LaVine has mentally checked out of playing for the Bulls and will be traded long before next season begins. No player stands to benefit from that happening more than Coby White.

SF: DeMar DeRozan

Like LaVine, DeMar DeRozan has been another name heavily involved in trade rumors this season. The veteran forward is in the final year of the contract he signed with Chicago back in 2021 and is likely to receive a fair amount of interest on the trade market. If the Bulls wish to retain DeRozan for the long haul, they may have a fight on their hands.

Posting averages of 22.4 points and 5.5 assists per game this season, it might make more sense for Chicago to trade DeRozan outright, rather than risk losing him for nothing. While that may be the logical decision from an asset management perspective, it wouldn't be a wise move for a team that wants to win basketball games. DeRozan appears to have truly embraced his role as the leader of this franchise, and I wouldn't be shocked in the slightest to see him re-up with the Bulls on an extension this summer.

PF: Patrick Williams

Alongside Coby, the future of the Chicago Bulls hinges on Patrick Williams' ability to become a winning player who can be a real difference-maker against the top teams in the league. He's displayed steady improvement each year he's been in the league, so I doubt the Bulls will be willing to move on from their investment just yet.

I'm not sure Williams will receive the massive payday he was likely hoping for on the open market, but his skill set as a strong defender and efficient three-point shooter is one that every contender values highly and is willing to pay for. Jaden McDaniels fulfills a similar role for the Timberwolves and just signed a five-year, $136 million deal to return to Minnesota in October, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Williams fish for a deal in that range.

It might be a tough cost to stomach, but it's the going rate for players of his caliber these days, and the Bulls simply cannot afford to lose their cornerstone prospect.

C: Nikola Vucevic

Much like DeRozan, I expect Nikola Vucevic to be returning as a veteran presence for the Bulls next season. Unlike DeRozan, however, I'm not sure Vucevic will earn this spot through the merit of his own play. After signing a $60 million extension this past summer, the Bulls have practically no choice but to start the 33-year-old big man.

Vucevic has yet to return Chicago's generosity, as he is in the midst of his worst statistical performance with the team yet. Averages of 16.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game are nothing to scoff at, but they do display a notable decline as his 52% shooting from the field and 2.7 box plus/minus have drastically fallen to 45.2% and -0.4, respectively.

When even Andre Drummond looks like a dramatic improvement over your starting center, there's a problem. I wouldn't be surprised if the front office tried moving on from Vucevic this summer, but considering his declining play and hefty contract, we may be stuck with him for the time being.