Looking Back At The 2021 Chicago Bulls

July 20th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The Bulls were able to win some games early this past season, and while they had tumbled in the standings, they were able to swing a trade to land former All-Star center Nikola Vucevic in a bid to bolster their chances to land a spot in the play-in game to vie for a playoff spot in the East.

Unfortunately, the Bulls couldn’t gain enough steam or ground to make it to a play-in game, but they seem to have some solid players for their team, as they have All-Star guard Zach LaVine, a solid rookie forward in Patrick Williams, as well as Nikola Vucevic and head coach Billy Donovan that could help the young Bulls’ squad go farther and maybe make the playoffs next season.

Chicago Bulls’ star players, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic will be teammates for a full season next year, and together they will try to help their team get to the playoffs in 2022.
(Photo:
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press, via HoopsHype)

G Zach LaVine
2021 (CHI): 58 GP, 27.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.9 APG, 21.5 PER, 63 TS%, 5.9 WS, .138 WS48

Zach LaVine had a great season, as he made his first All-Star team, and he thrived as an offensive player this year.  He really excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator. He still needs to improve his defense, but he has emerged to be the best player on the Chicago Bulls’ team.

2021 Season A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting guard on the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

Chicago Bulls swung a big trade to land star center Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic, and they will try to make their playoff push next season.
(Photo:
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images, via Forbes)

C Nikola Vucevic
2021 (ORL/CHI): 70 GP, 23.4 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.8 APG, 48 FG%, 40 3PT%, 84 FT%, 22.9 PER, 56 TS%, 6.3 WS, .129 WS48

Vucevic had a fairly solid season, as he really excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator, and rebounder for his team.  He did virtually everything well, but he couldn’t quite help either team get to the play-in tournament.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting center on the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

Chicago Bulls’ rookie forward, Patrick Williams quietly played well this year, and big things are expected from him next season.
(Photo:
Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images, via The Athletic)

F Patrick Williams
2021 (CHI): 71 GP, 9.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 48 FG%, 39 3PT%, 73 FT%, 10.5 PER, 56 TS%, 2.5 WS, .060 WS48

Williams quietly had a very good season, as he excelled as a shooter and rebounder on the court, and he’s also shown promise as a defender.  He is a very athletic combo forward that may possess considerable upside, and he was able to make the All-Rookie 2nd team this year.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

G Coby White
2021 (CHI): 69 GP, 15.1 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.1 RPG, 42 FG%, 36 3PT%, 90 FT%, 12 PER, 54 TS%, 2.4 WS, .052 WS48

White had a fairly solid season with the Chicago Bulls.  He’s improved as a shooter and scorer, and he has continued to show improvement as a facilitator on the floor.  He’ll need to improve his defense, and he will still need to continue to improve his shot selection, but White is a talented player that could be an integral player for his team.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

C Daniel Theis
2021 (BOS/CHI): 65 GP, 9.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 54 FG%, 32 3PT%, 67 FT%, 15 PER, 61 TS%, 4.3 WS, .128 WS48

Their played fairly well this past season, and it was surprising that Boston traded him in a package deal that netted them two backup centers, one of whom they later cut (Mo Wagner).   

Theis excelled as an inside scorer and as a rim protector, and he also has shown more of a willingness to be a floor spacer in recent years.   He’ll still need to improve his outside shot, but he was quite effective for both of the teams he played for this year.

2021 Season Grade: B (B- w/BOS and CHI)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Theis will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F Thaddeus Young
2021 (CHI): 68 GP, 12.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 56 FG%, 27 3PT%, 63 FT%, 20.3 PER, 58 TS%, 5.1 WS, .147 WS48

He was a sleeper contender for the Sixth Man of the Year award, and Young had a very good season with the Bulls.  He did just about everything well, sans a three-point shot, and his veteran experience, IQ, and versatility made him a great fit with his new team this past year.  He had his best season in a long time, and he could also fit in with a playoff type of team well next season, too.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating:  2.5 stars

Young’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

F-C Lauri Markkanen
2021 (CHI): 51 GP, 13.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 48 FG%, 40 3PT%, 83 FT%, 15.2 PER, 62 TS%, 3 WS, .109 WS48

Lauri Markkanen is a very good shooter that specializes in spacing the floor, and he did a very good job of scoring the basketball, but he didn’t really fare nearly as well in the other elements of the game.  He didn’t rebound nor defend well, and he didn’t pick up many assists.  He’s going to be a restricted free agent, so the Bulls may have to decide soon on how he fits into their future for the long haul.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

G-F Tomáš Satoranský
2021 (CHI): 58 GP, 7.7 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.4 RPG, 51 FG%, 36 3PT%, 85 FT%, 13.8 PER, 61 TS%, 3.1 WS, .113 WS48

He had a solid season, as he excelled as a shooter and facilitator for his team.  Satoransky may not score in bulk and he was only about middling as a defender, but he put up good offensive numbers in his role this year.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

G-F Troy Brown Jr.
2021 (WAS/CHI): 34 GP, 4.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 43 FG%, 31 3PT%, 71 FT%, 8.5 PER, 53 TS%, 0.5 WS, .043 WS48

After really struggling with the Wizards in a deep bench role and having been unable to get consistent playing time, Brown was traded to the Bulls.  He played much better, as he excelled as a scorer, rebounder, and defender, but he still hasn’t really shown the playmaking skills that made him such a promising young player a year ago.  Brown is a talented player, but he hasn’t quite etched out a firm identity in terms of what he’ll contribute to the rotation, but it’s clear that my view of him is that he is a versatile, point forward whose strongest part of his game is his playmaking skills, and he will need to make a return to feature those elements in his game.

2021 Season Grade: C- (F+ w/WAS, B w/CHI)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G-F Garrett Temple
2021 (CHI): 56 GP, 7.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 41 FG%, 34 3PT%, 80 FT%, 8.2 PER, 52 TS%, 1.6 WS, .050 WS48

Temple received plenty of playing time, but the question is if he played too much.  He didn’t shoot particularly well, and he was only about average as a playmaker and defender this past season.  He’s also his mid-30s, so he may be already on the decline, and so it might be unlikely that he’ll perform much better in future years.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

G Ryan Arcidiacono
2021 (CHI): 44 GP, 3.1 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 42 FG%, 37 3PT%, 65 FT%, 9.8 PER, 54 TS%, 0.9 WS, .093 WS48

He didn’t play nearly as much as last season, but he seemed to be a perfectly average bench player for the Bulls.  He did an adequate job of making plays in pretty much all facets of the game.  He doesn’t shoot much, and he won’t wow anyone athletically, but he is a smart, system player that can effectively play the backup point guard role in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

G Javonte Green
2021 (BOS/CHI): 41 GP, 3.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 52 FG%, 33 3PT%, 75 FT%, 12.1 PER, 61 TS%, 1.1 WS, .107 WS48

Javonte Green still hasn’t really been able to establish himself as a rotation player yet, but he’s played well in limited playing time.  He’s shown a knack for attacking the basket to get points and rebounds, and he’s also defended well.  He’ll need to improve his three-point shot and playmaking skills, but he may have what it takes to land a rotation spot next season.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

G-F Denzel Valentine
2021 (CHI): 62 GP, 6.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.7 APG, 37 FG%, 33 3PT%, 94 FT%, 10.1 PER, 48 TS%, 0.7 WS, .032 WS48

Valentine has shown strong rebounding and playmaking skills, but his inability to shoot combined with his less than stellar defensive play this year were disappointing elements of his game this past season.  It seems that he’s been given a lot of playing time and leeway over the years, perhaps too much so.  He’ll need to shoot and defend better to be able to help his team more next season.

2021 Season Grade: D+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

C Cristiano Felício
2021 (CHI): 18 GP, 1.3 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 54 FG%, 14.7 PER, 57 TS%, 0.3 WS, .151 WS48

Felicio’s playing time has really diminished over the years, and he’s making entirely too much for someone who’s playing so little.  That said, he showed off solid interior play on both ends of the floor in the short amount of time he was on the floor. 

He’ll need to shoot much more, but Felicio might have proven himself capable of earning at least another season in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

G Devon Dotson (Two-Way)
2021 (CHI): 11 GP, 2.1 PPG, 52 FG%, 14 3PT%, 19.3 PER, 55 TS%, 0.2 WS, .177 WS48
2021 (G-League): 10 GP, 13 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 47 FG5, 27 3PT%, 82 FT%, 16.5 PER, 58 TS%, 0.5 WS, .073 WS48

It was a surprise when Dotson was not drafted on draft night, but he was able to quickly land a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls.  He’s excelled as a scorer, facilitator, and defender, but he will need to greatly improve his outside shot.  He has the talent to be a backup point guard in the NBA, but the question is how soon can he beat out the competition to be able to do so.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F-C Al-Farouq Aminu
2021 (ORL/CHI): 23 GP, 4.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 38 FG%, 22 3PT%, 82 FT%, 8.9 PER, 47 TS%, 0.1 WS, .010 WS48

Overall, Aminu has been quite disappointing over the past couple of seasons.  He’s really struggled to score, and he doesn’t seem to be able to find his jump shot.  He’s shown adequate rebounding and defensive skills, but that doesn’t make up for his horrendous offensive performances over the past two seasons. 

Aminu used to be a solid role player in Portland, but he’s been pretty bad ever since he’s played for Eastern Conference teams, and he hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations after having signed a sizable contract two years ago.  Right now, he is an albatross contract that is a shell of his former self.  He is a fringe player that will need to prove that he’s capable of earning an NBA roster spot next season.

2021 Season Grade: D (D+ w/ORL, F w/CHI)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 star

Aminu has a player option that he can exercise at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Adam Mokoka (Two-Way)
2021 (CHI): 14 GP, 1.1 PPG, 37 FG%, 10 3PT%, 2.2 PER, 39 TS%, -0.1 WS, -.112 WS48
2021 (G-League): 4 GP, 5.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1 SPG, 32 FG%, 20 3PT%, 100 FT%, 4.3 PER, 44 TS%, -0.2 WS, -.102 WS48

Mokoka may be something of an organizational favorite, because he didn’t play well at all this past season, yet he has still managed to stay on the Bulls on a two-way contract. 

He didn’t really do anything well at the NBA or G-League level either this past season, and he took a major step back after having a promising rookie season.  He’s an athletic combo guard that has shown flashes of his two-way potential, but there comes to a point if they’re still willing to be patient and wait around on him, as it doesn’t look like he’s making any significant ground to realize that anytime soon.

2021 Season Grade: F
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 star (1.5 stars potential)

Head Coach:
Billy Donovan
2021 (CHI): 31-41, did not make the playoffs
Coaching Career: 274-198, 18-23 in his playoff career

Though the Chicago Bulls didn’t make the playoffs, they were able to get a good year out of All-Star guard Zach LaVine, and their midseason trade to acquire Nikola Vucevic will certainly have Bulls’ fans excited for next season.
(Photo:
Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images, via Action Network)

Donovan had a fairly solid season this year with the Chicago Bulls, as he was able to help them win games than expected.  Though his team didn’t make the playoffs, they saw improved play out of All-Star Zach LaVine, and encouraging seasons out of rookie forward, Patrick Williams and second-year point guard, Coby White.  It seems that Donovan has his team on the right track, and they could be well on their way to making the playoff push as early as next season.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head coach of the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Chicago Bulls’ Season:

The Chicago Bulls weren’t expected to make it to the playoffs, but they were able to get awfully close to a spot in the play-in tournament, so much so that they decided to swing a trade to land former All-Star center, Nikola Vucevic.

While they didn’t make it to the playoffs or to the play-in tournament, the Bulls received a big season out of Zach LaVine, and they received strong years out of Thad Young and rookie forward, Patrick Williams.  The Bulls did better than expected, and big things could await them next season.

The 2020-21 Chicago Bulls’ Season Grade: C+

The Chicago Bulls’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Nikola Vucevic
F Lauri Markkanen
F Patrick Williams
G Zach LaVine
G Coby White

Key Reserves:
F Thaddeus Young
G Tomas Satoransky
G-F Troy Brown Jr.

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G Devon Dotson
The 38th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
F Al-Farouq Aminu
G Adam Mokoka

Impending Restricted Free Agents:
G Javonte Green – Not Expected Back

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
C Daniel Theis – Not Expected Back
G Garrett Temple – Not Expected Back
G Denzel Valentine – Not Expected Back
C Cristiano Felicio – Not Expected Back

Players with an Impending Team Option:
G Ryan Arcidiacono – Not Expected Back

Projected Offseason Plan for the Chicago Bulls:
The Chicago Bulls might have some cap space for next season, so they might decide to spend it to get some talented wing players to bolster their depth.  They could use more 3 and D wing players, or extra ball movers that can fit within their offense.

They also have a second round pick, so they could look to use it on the best player available, or they could look to add either more wing players or a backup big man to add to their team.

The 2022 Chicago Bulls’ Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Finish:
38-44, 9th in the Eastern Conference in 2022

Expected 2022 Season Outcome:
They will probably make it to the play-in tournament, and they will compete to try to get the 7th or 8th seed out in the East in 2022

I primarily went to Basketball-Reference and No Trade Clause for research purposes. For more information on my ratings scale and how I rate NBA players and coaches, you can find it here. Thanks for reading.

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