Last season turned into a transition period for the Chicago Bulls — Jimmy Butler’s massive progression started to shape him as more of the central figure than former MVP Derrick Rose, and adding Pau Gasol in the offseason, which only improved their team, was another adjustment. Now with a new head coach, the Bulls find themselves having to adjust yet again.
The Bulls are still in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, finishing third-best last season and falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference semifinals. The health and status of Derrick Rose will always be under a microscope, but with their roster from last season still intact and adjustments to make, the priority for the Bulls as a whole has to be evolution.
What can fans look forward to?
Playing more uptempo, offensive-oriented basketball. Tom Thibodeau’s strengths were on the defensive end, and his identity was branded into a team that developed great grit and pride. But the elite teams in the league today are playing faster paces with more spacing, shooting, and versatility, a trend that fits new head coach Fred Hoiberg much better.
Projected starting lineup:
PG: Derrick Rose
SG: Jimmy Butler
SF: Tony Snell/Doug McDermott (Mike Dunleavy injured)
PF: Nikola Mirtoic
C: Pau Gasol
Who can emerge as a star?
I’m not sure about star potential, but I would look for Doug McDermott to emerge as a vital contributor for Chicago, particularly in Hoiberg’s system. Even when he was healthy, McDermott didn’t see the floor much for Tom Thibodeau as a rookie last season. I expect Hoiberg to put a lot more use to one of Chicago’s most potent shooting threats, and he can seriously help in evolving their team.
What will be their final record?