Each NBA season brings its share of questions and intrigues. It’s the same thing all the time, a few days before the recovery. Which player will perform? Which coach will be fired? Who am I ? In which shelf? Where squash? For each of the 30 franchises, we have selected the 5 big questions for 2022-23, and the seat of the day is assigned to the Chicago Bulls.
How many games without Lonzo Ball this season?
After knee surgery last January due to a torn meniscus, Lonzo Ball has still not played basketball since initially he was only due to miss six to eight weeks. And to tell the truth, we still do not know when he will be able to find the parquet floors. The offseason news is cause for concern, with Lonzo returning to the pool just recently after saying he couldn’t “run or jump”. The scenario of the white season is clearly not to be ruled out, even if the Bulls prefer to be optimistic and imagine a return after several months of rehabilitation. We hope so too, as does the whole of the Bulls Nation, because Ball was one of the main reasons for the Bulls’ excellent start to the season last year through his defense, his qualities as a playmaker and his banderillas from afar.
Will Nikola Vucevic be more comfortable in year 3?
If one of Billy Donovan’s priorities this year is to use Nikola Vucevic a lot more, it is because he is well aware that the Montenegrin pivot had a not easy 2021-22 season in Chicago. The guy’s stats certainly remain solid (17 points – 11 rebounds on average, but a 3-point skill that has dropped to 31%) but he struggled a lot to really find his place around LaVine, DeRozan, Ball et Cie . To hope to play the leading roles in a hardcore Eastern Conference, the Bulls will need a more involved Vooch who weighs more on both sides of the field compared to last season. Important aspect to keep in mind, the 31-year-old pivot is entering a contract year this season and whoever says contract year necessarily means additional motivation to score.
What rotation on the back line?
This question automatically implies another: who will replace Lonzo Ball in the major five this season? Sophomore Ayo Dosunmu has a real shot at it after an enticing rookie campaign where he notably started 40 games in all, including a number alongside Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Another potential candidate: Alex Caruso. Used mainly off the bench last year, the divine bald was nevertheless an essential part of the Taurus collective, especially in defense where he made miseries to the opposing backcourts with Lonzo. Able to be used on positions 1 and 2, with and without the ball, Caruso could well have the favors of Billy Donovan so much he is able to positively impact his team on both sides of the field. Coby White is also in the mix, as is veteran Goran Dragic who arrived this summer. The training camp and the pre-season should allow the coach of the Bulls to see a little more clearly and thus establish a real hierarchy on the back line behind Zach LaVine.
Will Patrick Williams finally explode?
We rather liked what Patrick Williams – fourth choice of the 2020 Draft – showed during his rookie campaign, especially on the defensive level. Problem, his sophomore season was truncated by a big boo on the wrist and Patoche thus only played 17 games in total. Not ideal to launch his NBA career. Nevertheless, we want to remember the two or three big performances he released at the end of the season last year, performances which perhaps represent a preview of great things to come. Setting his career high in scoring in the last regular game with 35 pawns against Wolves, Pat also hit 20 points twice during the largely Milwaukee-dominated first-round playoff series. Certainly in the middle of all that there were also offensive air pockets but at least it shows that Williams has in him this ability to become a real two-way player. Can he take on more responsibility on offense and thus provide additional offensive support to Chicago from position 4?
Will the hype at the start of the 2021-22 season be back?
The Bulls were one of the best stories in the NBA at the end of 2021. 24 wins in 34 games as of January 1, leading the Eastern Conference, a DeMar DeRozan in MVP mode, rookies Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso who transform against all waiting for Chicago as a fortress… in short, it was the dream scenario in the Windy City, and the whole city came back to life behind its Bulls. The rest we know, it was not very glorious between the sores and the fall in the rankings. But the Bulls now want to start again, remembering precisely their first magical weeks of last season. Chicago is back in full except for the Lonzo Ball case, the workforce is equipped to be competitive there right away and there are youngsters who have the means and the opportunities to take a big step. Enough to revive the hype of last year?