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2018-19 NBA Season Preview: What to expect from the Chicago Bulls

With the 2018-19 NBA season quickly approaching, we’re
rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night,
we’re dedicating one day to each team in the league.

After looking at the Milwaukee Bucks, we’re shifting out Central
Division focus to the Chicago Bulls.

2017-18 season record

27-55 (13th in the Eastern Conference)

Projected 2018-19 season record

27.5 (14th in Eastern Conference)

Notable additions

Wendell Carter Jr. (7th overall pick in 2018 NBA Draft)

Chandler Hutchinson (22nd overall pick in 2018 NBA Draft)

Jabari Parker (free agency)

Notable departures

Jerian Grant (trade)

3 key storylines

Jabari Parker’s health

If you take out the 2015-16 season, where he played in 76 of 82
games, Parker has had trouble staying on the court. In his three
other seasons, he has played in just 43.5 percent of games (107 out
of 246).

The Bucks allowed Parker to become an unrestricted free agent
this offseason, gifting him the opportunity to sign a two-year, $40
million deal with his hometown Bulls. The catch is that the second
year of the contract is a team-option, giving both parties an
opportunity to re-evaluate Parker’s health and performance next
offseason.

Even though he’s battled through two ACL injuries, Parker has
showed flashes of great potential when he is on the court. Over
four seasons, he has averaged 15.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per
game. He even posted three double-digit scoring performances in the
playoffs a year ago.

The 23-year-old will be a great addition for a young Bulls
roster should he remain healthy.

The development of Wendell Carter Jr.

Carter Jr. was
voted by his peers
as most likely to have the best career in
this year’s rookie survey. After seemingly hitting the jackpot with
last year’s rookie Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls hope to have another
great lottery selection in the Duke-product.

Carter Jr. was an All-Summer League selection, posting an
impressive 14.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in five games.
He only averaged nine shot attempts per game, showing a similar
scoring efficiency that he did in college last season.

The Bulls were first in the league in field goal attempts and
dead last in shooting percentage last season, so Carter Jr.’s
efficiency should help them there. The rookie is in a good
situation to develop his game as the Bulls develop their talent
around him. The future in Chicago will be bright if he can get off
to the start that Markkanen did a year ago.

Continued progression of their young talent

Despite a 27-55 season, the Bulls showed some promise last
year.

Markkanen broke out as one of the top rookies in his draft
class, earning a spot on the All-Rookie First Team with averages of
15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game on 36 percent shooting from
3-point range.

Kris Dunn, meanwhile, proved all he needed was a fresh start,
tapping into the potential scouts believed he had when he was
selected fifth overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Dunn upped his 3.8
points per game average from his rookie season to 13.4 last year.
He also dished out six assists per game and would have finished
tied for second with two steals per game had he qualified for the
category.

It’s key that this duo, plus Carter Jr. and the health and
progression of Parker and Zach LaVine, continue in the right
direction if the Bulls are going to compete any time soon.

5 games to watch

Nov. 14 at Boston Celtics

Carter Jr. has made it well known that he embraces the Al
Horford comparison. The rookie has said he models his game after
the Celtics big man and on this date, he’ll have his first
opportunity to compete against his NBA prototype.

Nov. 16 at Milwaukee Bucks

This offseason, the Bucks allowed Parker to become an
unrestricted free agent so he could sign with his hometown Bulls.
This will be Parker’s first time in Milwaukee as an opponent after
spending his first four years of his career there. Though the Bucks
were making a nice gesture for Parker, you can imagine he’s ready
to show them what they’re missing out on.

Dec. 10 vs. Sacramento Kings

Throughout his time at Duke, Marvin Bagley III overshadowed
Carter Jr. He still emerged as a top NBA prospect, but Bagley III
was selected five picks before him. This marks the first time that
the two young bigs will get to compete against each other since
practices in college. Expect Carter Jr. to prove that he’s on the
same level as his college counterpart.

Dec. 26 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

This has turned into a homecoming game for many players on the
Timberwolves’ roster from Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and
Derrick Rose to head coach Tom Thibodeau. Add to the fact that
Minnesota traded LaVine and Dunn to the Bulls, and you have the
most crossover between two NBA rosters that you could see in one
arena.

Jan. 19 vs. Miami Heat

With Dwyane Wade announcing 2018-19 will be his last season,
this will be the last time he plays in his home city of Chicago.
Wade had a one-year trial with the Bulls, where he averaged 18
points per game. In a season that will be full of celebrations and
commencements for one of the best shooting guards in league
history, this will be one of the most important stops on the D-Wade
farewell tour.

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