By George Maldonado
The Jordan-era Chicago Bulls are long gone, although the times of the Bulls running the East are in sight: closer than we can even imagine.
The potential starting five of Point Guard (PG) Kris Dunn, Shooting Guard (SG) Zach LaVine, Small Forward (SF) Jabari Parker, Power Forward (PF) Lauri Markkanen and Center (C) Wendell Carter Jr. should make Chicago feel like they’re in the running for a LeBron-less Eastern Conference title sooner rather than later.
Is that a stretch? Absolutely not.
The Bulls have produced the greatest player of all time, built dynasty teams, have had multiple players selected for most valuable player (MVP), have had defensive player of the year (DPOY) caliber players: they’ve been there and done it all.
Their potential starting five are all lottery selections which means they all have that “it” in their game to be something great on the hardwood.
First off, Dunn is a prototypical one-position player at 6’4 and matches very well with the likes of bigger point guards in the league. Since the days of (G) Derrick Rose running the floor in Chi- town, the likes of a dominant point guard have been non-existent until the arrival of Dunn because of his skill-set. He’s vying for the opportunity to show why he was the fifth overall pick in 2016 and the a key player in the block buster trade that sent superstar (G) Jimmy Butler to Minnesota.
Dunn once led Providence to relevancy in college fighting for the national championship, so the pressure has always been there; he’s lived up to it and in due time we’ll see him doing the same professionally.
His game has been dictated by being that “guy” for a subpar team. Which has led him to take unfavorable shot selections and trust for someone else to come up in big situations. With fellow running-mate LaVine, when needed can pass up a good shot for a great shot.
LaVine compliments the off ball two-guard position with the bulls in that he can shoot behind the arc with consistency, he can cut to the basket for a slam dunk with a ferocious finish, and won’t need the ball to be playmaker. He’s a former slam dunk winner and brings momentum that fans feed off once he steps on the court.
Since his days at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), he’s played humble under bright lights, he’s been a favorable teammate and a player’s coach. So, it was easy for the Bulls to ink him to a four-year/ $78 million contract as part of their future.
What gets better than playing in the NBA? How about playing for your native city where you once dominated the basketball epicenter in Chicago.
Newly acquired Parker is living the basketball dream after signing a two year/ $40 million dollar contract in free agency with the Bulls. He’s battled tough career-ending injuries for a player that hasn’t seen many years in the league but when on the floor plays dominant basketball at the highest unselfish rate a player can play at.
He was once seen as a LeBron/Carmelo franchise player out of college but has yet to live up to that thus far. Does he still have that potential? No question.
He can play positions three to five and be havoc on the fast break. So, with good health he’s someone to favor against most match-ups and someone to bet on.
Fresh faces for the future front-court tandem of Markkanen and Carter Jr. share viable length on the defensive end as well as high basketball IQ. Markkanen received honorable votes in the Rookie of the year (ROTY) running being a surprise gem for the Bulls early on. He can make a shot from 30 ft out with no hesitation like (G) Stephen Curry out of the bay area and on the block like (F/C) Anthony Davis from New Orleans (NO). So, his all around game allows him to play anywhere on the floor.
Carter Jr. wasn’t even Duke University’s number one option but played as if he was much of all season. He didn’t need a play to be made for him to pick up points and he didn’t need a size advantage to grab boards on both ends. With his athleticism and length in today’s NBA the center position is ideal for the Bulls.
So, what the Bulls are getting is a player that brings an edge to their team.
Each player playing their game will unknowingly compliment one another and win games with ease as long as Head Coach Fred Hoiberg allows his players to play to their strengths.
People are talking Philadelphia Sixers, Boston Celtics, and even Sacramento Kings core group being scary in the future.
However, the Bulls don’t sit at the bottom for too long, so when they come running everyone team better make way.