The 2020-21 NBA season will start a lot sooner than expected by many players, managers, fans, and critics. This leaves the Chicago Bulls with some shortened timelines to get their proverbial house in order before a much-anticipated campaign gets underway.
The Bulls are a relatively young team, who seem set to return with most of their existing roster. They might struggle for momentum at the start after some significant changes in their backroom staff.
Certain stringencies and leniencies have afforded the Bulls a bit of extra time to get their draft picks sorted out. They can do this with full confidence, knowing that their rookies will head to a training camp reasonably shortly after being picked up. The trade moratorium will be tricky for some teams to navigate, but perhaps the Bulls are ahead of the so-called pack on this one.
They are not necessarily among the favorites to take the championship. But it’s early days, and the odds will shorten closer to the start of the season. For now, FanDuel Sportsbook and other legal gambling sites in Illinois have the Bulls offered at 130/1 for overall victory. In the Eastern Conference, William Hill has Chicago priced at 80/1 for triumph over the Bucks, Nets, Celtics, Heat, and others.
Soon enough, the Bulls are going to have to make some big decisions about Kris Dunn, Shaquille Harrison, and a few other free agents. The truncated free agency period will start on 20 November, meaning time and quick, tactical decisions are of the essence. Chicago has a dozen guaranteed contracts. These, alongside the number four and 44 picks in the draft, make for an interesting stance. All this is assuming Otto Porter Junior takes advantage of his near 29 million dollar player option.
The draft will, of course, largely finalize questions around Deni Avdija. The Maccabi Tel Aviv guard has been a hot topic of conversation, specifically around the impact of players from abroad. The NBA is synonymous with developing players from outside of the United States – and opportunity indeed knocks for Avdija to join the extensive list.
He is evidently on the radar for the Bulls, but what exactly he could offer them or how he could limit the Bulls is arguable. He has been compared to Luka Doncic. But likening him to the Dallas Mavericks kingpin is probably premature. He has a long way to go.
The dynamic Avdija is effectively a go-to guard. He’s solid in transition, and his passing skills are a cut above many others. Nearing seven feet, his stature literally puts him head and shoulders above the opposition when on the leap. He’s not the quickest on foot, but other aspects of his athletic ability could see him beat some of the best one-one.
It has become increasingly, evident, though that he isn’t really shooting from a solid base. He says he’s working on that – and time will tell whether he can walk this talk.
“The question mark is his shooting, and I personally bought it. I know he’s a mid-50s free throw shooter, I think that’s mainly him getting too down on himself if he misses a shot. I’ve been told he’s one of the hardest workers pretty much ever from an Israeli League assistant coach, so that’s obviously high praise,” NBC Sports quoted NBA expert Spencer Pearlman as saying.
Before and after the draft, there will be enough posturing to go around. But it’s pretty evident that the Bulls are among the most active in terms of player recruitment, but not necessarily retention.
If the Bulls decide to – and manage to – secure LaMelo Ball, that would impress a lot of doubters. Ball is the number one draft pick and has reportedly interviewed with a glut of franchises. Whoever manages to clinch his signature will land themselves with a veritable superstar, capable of turning a contest on its head across a few minutes. The Bulls could undoubtedly do with this sort of big billing and expectation ahead one of their most challenging seasons yet.