Reviewing the 2019-20 Chicago Bulls

November 12th, 2020

by Alan Lu

The Chicago Bulls’ logo.
(Photo:
Chicago Bulls/Sports Logo History)

The Bulls were not a very good team nor were they expected to be, but they were dysfunctional one at that, partially because of their roster and their former head coach, Jim Boylen’s stubborn, old-school approach that clashes with the way the new NBA game is trending.  Zach LaVine personally had a good season as an individual, but the Bulls never came together as a unit. 

The Chicago Bulls were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, and they were, which was partly due to their roster construction, as well as their former head coach, Jim Boylen’s rigid approach that clashed with the current trends that are happening in the modern NBA.  Zach LaVine had his best season individually in the NBA, and the Bulls will be building their team around him to be the lead ball handler and scorer for them.  The most exciting developments that have happened to them in the past few years was a recent one.  They hired Arturas Karnisovas to be their new head of basketball operations, Marc Eversley is their new GM, and most importantly, they also hired Billy Donovan to be their new head coach, whom had recently lead the Thunder to far more wins than expected in 2020.

Chicago Bulls’ scoring guard and two-time NBA dunk contest champion, Zach LaVine had his best individual seasons with the Chicago Bulls, but so far that hasn’t translated to many wins for his teams, yet.
(Photo:
Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports, via HoopsHype)

Zach LaVine – 2020 season grade: B

2020 (CHI): 60 GP, 25.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.5 SPG, 45 FG%, 38 3PT%, 80 FT%, 34.8 MPG, 19.4 PER, 4.0 WS

Zach LaVine is a tremendously athletic combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also is a fairly good facilitator when he is on the floor.  He will need to improve his rebounding and defense, but next year, he is poised to be the Bulls’ best player on their team yet again in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting wing player on the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

Chicago Bulls’ sharpshooting big man, Lauri Markkanen is a gifted shooter that can score the basketball, but he had a down season in which his shooting percentages went down, and he will need to improve his rebounding and defense.
(Photo:
Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports, via On Tap Sports Net)

Lauri Markkanen – C

2020 (CHI): 50 GP, 14.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 42 FG%, 34 3PT%, 82 FT%, 29.8 MPG, 14.3 PER, 2.6 WS

He is an offensive-minded, floor-spacing big man that can shoot and score the basketball.  Like Carter, Markkanen will need to stay healthy, and he will also need to improve his rebounding, passing, and defense.  He has a similar skill set to former Orlando Magic big man, Ryan Anderson, but Markkanen will need to knock down shots more efficiently to be more effective on the court.  Right now, he is poised to see a lot of minutes with the Bulls if he can stay healthy in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting power forward on the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

Chicago Bulls’ starting center, Wendell Carter Jr. can get his team plenty of points and rebounds in the paint, but Bulls’ fans are waiting to see if his outside shot will come around for 2021, and if he can stay healthy for a full season.
(Photo:
Nick Wass/AP, via The Chicago Sun-Times)

Wendell Carter Jr. – C

2020 (CHI): 43 GP, 11.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 53 FG%, 21 3PT%, 74 FT%, 29.2 MPG, 15.5 PER, 3.3 WS

Wendell Carter Jr. is a big-bodied center that can score and grab rebounds in the paint.  He’ll need to improve in the other areas of the game, as he’ll especially need to work on his outside shot and defense, but he will likely see a lot of minutes on Chicago in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting center on the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

Tomas Satoransky – C

2020 (CHI): 65 GP, 9.9 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.9 RPG, 43 FG%, 32 3PT%, 88 FT%, 28.9 MPG, 13.5 PER, 3.5 WS

He is a tall, athletic point forward that excels as a facilitator on the court.  Satoransky specializes in ball movement, and he also can capably guard opponents on the other team.  He will need to improve his jump shot, as his shooting percentages generally tapered off this season. 

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Kris Dunn – C

2020 (CHI): 51 GP, 7.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 2.0 SPG, 44 FG%, 26 3PT%, 74 FT%, 24.9 MPG, 12.1 PER, 2.3 WS

Kris Dunn is an athletic point guard who had an up and down season with the Bulls this year.  He struggled to make shots efficiently, but he showed off some playmaking skills when he was on the court, and he excelled at getting rebounds and steals in games.  He is a solid on-ball defender that can lock down his opponents, but he has struggled to shoot or score the basketball.  Next season, he will likely be a rotation player in the NBA.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Dunn will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Coby White – C+

2020 (CHI): 65 GP, 13.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 39 FG%, 35 3PT%, 79 FT%, 25.8 MPG, 11.9 PER, 0.9 WS

The rookie point guard had a fairly decent rookie season for the Chicago Bulls.  He showed that he can knock down outside shots and grab some rebounds.  He will need to improve his ability to score inside the arc and be more of a distributor and defender in games.  Next season, he will like get a lot of minutes with the Bulls in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player with the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

Otto Porter was the 3rd overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft and is a versatile forward that can do a little bit of everything, and he was once seen as a rising star when he was with the Washington Wizards. After he was traded to the Bulls, injuries have slowed him down in recent years. If he opts in, he’ll stand to make over $28 million for the upcoming season.
(Photo:
Stacy Revere/Getty Images, via The Chicago Sun-Times)

Otto Porter – B-

2020 (CHI): 14 GP, 11.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 44 FG%, 39 3PT%, 70 FT%, 23.6 MPG, 15.8 PER, 0.8 WS

He played 14 games before missing the rest of the season due to a foot injury.  Porter played a solid all-around game, though his shooting and rebounds have steadily gone down.  He’ll need to make sure that he can fully recover from his foot injury, and if so, he could have a solid season with the Bulls in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Solid role player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Side note: Porter has a player option that allows him to opt in or out at the end of the 2020 season.

Thaddeus Young – C+

2020 (CHI): 64 GP, 10.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 45 FG%, 36 3PT%, 58 FT%, 24.9 MPG, 13.3 PER, 1.9 WS

Thad Young showed off decent all-around skills for the Bulls this season, but he strangely struggled to make his free throws in 2020.  He also wasn’t quite nearly as efficient in making two-point shots as he was with Indiana, and he was a lot more foul-prone this year in Chicago.  It was a curious move that he signed with the Bulls, considering that his talents suit a playoff team much better, but he’ll likely get a lot of playing time with his current team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Daniel Gafford – B+

2020 (CHI): 43 GP, 5.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 70 FG%, 14.2 MPG, 16.2 PER, 1.9 WS

He is a very athletic big man that excelled at finishing plays around the basket, blocking shots, and defending for his team.  He will need to improve his rebounding and stay away from foul trouble, but he could be a solid role player off the bench for the Bulls in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Backup center for the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 star potential)

Chandler Hutchison – C

2020 (CHI): 28 GP, 7.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 46 FG%, 32 3PT%, 59 FT%, 18.8 MPG, 12.4 PER, 0.7 WS

Chandler Hutchison played 28 games before dealing with an upper-body injury.  He excelled at attacking the basket and played adequate defense, but he will really need to improve his outside shot and playmaking skills.  It’s uncertain if he’ll be able to snag a rotation spot full-time, but he has his work cut out for him as he will need to improve his jump shot at the very least in order to do so.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Ryan Arcidiacono – C+

2020 (CHI): 58 GP, 4.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 41 FG%, 39 3PT%, 71 FT%, 16 MPG, 9 PER, 1.4 WS

Ryan Arcidiacono was a regular in Chicago’s rotation this past season, and he showed that he can knock down threes and effectively run the team, and he also can capably guard his opponents.  He doesn’t look to score often, and he will need to improve his rebounding, but he is an adequate backup point guard that can prove his team with some minutes next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Luke Kornet – C

2020 (CHI): 36 GP, 6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.9 APG, 44 FG%, 29 3PT%, 71 FT%, 14.2 MPG, 12.7 PER, 1.1 WS

He is a floor-spacing big man that was able to receive some significant playing time for the Chicago Bulls this past season.   He did a good job of passing the basketball and blocking shots, but his shooting percentages were mostly down this year, and he will really need to improve his rebounding.  Next year, he will compete for a spot in the Bulls’ rotation in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

Denzel Valentine – C

2020 (CHI): 36 GP, 6.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 41 FG%, 34 3PT%, 75 FT%, 13.6 MPG, 13 PER, 0.5 WS

He missed all of the 2018-19 season due to injury, but he had trouble keeping his spot in the rotation this year.  He didn’t shoot or rebound the ball nearly as well as he did before, though he did show that he can pass and defend when he was on the court.  Next season if he stays, he will fight for a spot in the Bulls’ rotation in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Is a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Shaquille Harrison – 2020 season grade, B+

2020 (CHI): 43 GP, 4.9 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 47 FG%, 38 3PT%, 78 FT%, 11.3 MPG, 17.8 PER, 1.5 WS

Shaquille Harrison played well in limited minutes this past season.  He excelled at making shots efficiently, and he also was effective as a distributor and defender for his team.  He will need to be more assertive on offense, but he could be due for a key rotation role on his team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Is a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Cristiano Felicio – C-

2020 (CHI): 22 GP, 3.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 63 FG%, 17.5 MPG, 12.8 PER, 1.0 WS

He was efficient in scoring the basketball, but he didn’t take enough shots, grab enough rebounds, nor defend well this past season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth big man, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Adam Mokoka (Two-Way) – B+

2020 (CHI): 11 GP, 2.9 PPG, 43 FG%, 40 3PT%, 50 FT%, 10.2 MPG, 8.2 PER, 0.2 WS

Adam Mokoka is an athletic combo guard that shot the ball very well in limited minutes, and he performed better than expected this past season.  He’ll need to find a way to play rotation minutes, and he’ll need to improve his passing ability and stay away from foul trouble, but he is a talented player that could compete to get considerably more playing time in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

Max Strus (Two-Way) – B

2020 (CHI): 2 GP, 2.5 PPG, 67 FG%, 100 3PT%, 100 FT%, 3.0 MPG, 30.7 PER, 0 WS

He didn’t play very much, but he excelled as a shooter and scorer in very limited minutes, and he could compete for more playing time next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

Chicago Bulls’ new head coach, Billy Donovan had a very good season with the Thunder, and he was named co-Head Coach of the Year by the Coaches’ Association.
(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images, via Thunder Wire)

Head Coach:
Billy Donovan, 2020 season grade: A-
2020 (OKC): 44-28, 3-4 with the playoffs
Head Coaching Career: 243-157, 18-23 in his playoff career

Billy Donovan had a surprisingly very good season with the Thunder, as he got them to a 44-28 record, and he helped them win many more regular season games than anticipated.  He had won a couple of college titles with Florida, and Donovan is a solid tactician that has a decent understanding of how to deploy his lineups. 

Donovan managed to get a lot out of rookie guard Lu Dort, who excelled as a defender in their first-round series against the Houston Rockets, and Dort also scored 30 on them in Game 7.  Now that Donovan will be the head coach of a rebuilding team, he may be empowered to lead the Bulls in a new, positive direction that they haven’t had in a while.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Head coach of the Chicago Bulls
Projected 2021 Rating: 3 stars

Previous head coach:
Jim Boylen, 2020 season grade, D-

2020 (CHI): 22-43, missed the playoffs
Head Coaching Career: 39-84, never has made the playoffs

The Bulls were not a very good team and they were not expected to be, but they did receive a solid season out of Zach LaVine.  Unfortunately, they did not do many things well, but they excelled at getting steals and forcing turnovers.  Boylen’s disciplinarian approach rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and he ended up getting fired at the end of the 2020 season. One of the best moments to have happened in the Jim Boylen regime came from NBA Desktop, as you can read this article here.

Jim Boylen’s Bootcamp” was pure comedy gold, and NBA Desktop made another terrific episode.
(Source: YouTube/NBA Desktop)

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Head coach or assistant coach somewhere
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

2019-20 Chicago Bulls, season grade: D

The Bulls were not a very good team nor were they expected to be, but they were dysfunctional one at that, partially because of their roster and their former head coach, Jim Boylen’s stubborn, old-school approach that clashes with the way the new NBA game is trending.  Zach LaVine personally had a good season as an individual, but the Bulls never came together as a unit.

The Chicago Bulls’ Projected 2020-21 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
Wendell Carter Jr.
Lauri Markkanen
The 4th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft
Zach LaVine
Tomas Satoransky

Key Reserves:
Otto Porter
Thaddeous Young
Kris Dunn* (RFA)
Coby White
Daniel Gafford

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
Shaquille Harrison* (RFA)
Ryan Arcidiacono
Chandler Hutchison
Luke Kornet
Denzel Valentine* (RFA)

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
Cristiano Felicio
Adam Mokoka (Two-Way Contract)
Max Strus (Two-Way Contract)
The 44th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Players that will be Restricted Free Agents:
Kris Dunn
Shaquille Harrison
Denzel Valentine

Projected Players Cut from Next Season’s Roster:
Cristiano Felicio, Max Strus

2020 NBA Draft Picks:
#4, #44

Projected Offseason Plan for the Bulls:

The Bulls have a young basketball team, and they have plenty of solid, young players, with their top player currently being former NBA slam dunk champion, Zach LaVine.  They will build their team around him, though LaVine can play either the point, shooting guard or small forward positions on the court.  As Porter and Young have had injuries, and with Kris Dunn being a restricted free agent, the Bulls could look to take a perimeter player in the draft.  They also don’t project to have much cap space, so they will likely be bargain hunting in free agency to scour for undervalued players that they can sign for the minimum.

Expected Win Total in 2021: 32-40, 9th in the Eastern Conference.

The 2021 Bulls would be projected to play against the projected, 8th seeded Orlando Magic, and the winner would then play the hypothetical 2021 1st seeded, Milwaukee Bucks in this scenario.

Expected 2021 Season Outcome: They will compete for the 8th seed in the East, but could end up in the play-in game in 2021.

(* – The asterisk denotes that the expected regular season win total is adjusted for the 72 game schedule that the NBA will play for the 2020-21 season.  The initial projection for the Bulls was for them to get 36 wins in an 82-game season.  Also, the projected record does not take into account for the NBA draft or free agency, as those events have not happened yet.)

In case if you need the rubric for my player rating system of projecting NBA players for the 2020-21 season, here is the link. In addition, Basketball-Reference, RealGM, and Spotrac were vital information sites that I used to look at player and team statistics, as well as contract information.

Side note: Also, the letter grades attached to the player name was my grade for their 2019-20 season, as it is my judgment of their performance and whether or not they met or exceeded my expectations, and didn’t have much bearing on my projection of how they will perform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

Thank you for reading my grades of the 2019-20 Chicago Bulls’ team, and for reading my early forecast of what to expect out of them for the upcoming season.

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