It’s only three games, but the Chicago Bulls season is already over. Am I being pessimistic or overly dramatic? No, just realistic as this year is already derailed due to injuries and drama. Their best young player, Lauri Markkanen, suffered a high grade lateral sprain to his right elbow and is going to miss anywhere between six and eight weeks. Their starting PG, Kris Dunn, sprained his MCL and is now expected to miss four to six weeks (~14-22 games). Swingman Denzel Valentine has a deep bone bruise in his left ankle that isn’t getting better anytime soon and has him out until further notice.
Zach did say everything was good between them yesterday, but the question remains: Is Hoiberg — handpicked by Gar Forman — on the hot seat? While he has been dealt some tough cards, his rotations, growth as a coach, and player development as a whole has been lacking. Maybe it is not all his fault, but we are now four years into a five-year, $25 million contract, and we still don’t know. That alone should tell you something. To add fuel to the fire, Bovada put out these odds yesterday on the first NBA coach to be fired. Hoiberg comes in at three:
Who will stronge the first coach to leave their post in the 2018-2019 NBA Season?
Luke Walton 7/4
Tom Thibodeau 2/1
Fred Hoiberg 5/1
Billy Donovan 15/2
Scott Brooks 10/1
Dave Joerger 12/1
Tyronn Lue 12/1
Terry Stotts 12/1
But, let’s face it, even if everyone was healthy and there was no drama, in the famous words of Joe Lacob, the Bulls truly are “light years away” from the Golden State Warriors. While they have a couple of nice pieces, they still need more stars. And, with Cam Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono as the PG options going forward, tank season has begun. Like it or not, after these injuries, they just don’t have the talent to keep them out of the lottery. With no superstar free agents ever signing here (still waiting for that flexibility to pay off), the NBA Draft will be the Bulls best and only option to pick up that potential difference maker.
Anyways, it’s going to be a long season, so here is how you can pass your time. Start watching Duke basketball. Being a North Carolina fan myself (Michael Jordan inspired), that pains me to say, but the Bulls are my life, so I will bite the bullet.
So, why Duke? If you haven’t heard yet, Coach K signed a star-studded 2018 class headlined by R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Zion Williamson. All three are elite talents and should be among the top-five picks come draft time.
If you haven’t seen them play yet, here is a little write-up and video on each of the three…
Barrett is the most hyped freshman in college basketball and was ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. His father, Rowan, is a former Canadian Basketball star who played alongside Steve Nash on the team that qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Rowan currently serves as Nash’s assistant GM on the Canadian senior national team. The two have known each other since they were teenagers, and became close. How close? Nash is R.J.’s godfather, and has been a big part of R.J.’s life, both on and off the court. Plain and simple, R.J. has been baptized to become an NBA player. So, how good is he? During the FIBA U19 World Championship he went off for 38 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, in the semifinals against the United States. R.J. was 17 at the time, and that was Team USA’s first defeat in international competition in six years. He is 6’7” and possesses the size and speed to match up with NBA level talent. Being a lefty, his game does remind you of James Harden’s or Manu Ginobili’s a little bit, with the herky jerky ability to change speeds and shake defenders.
Zion is an athletic freak who is listed at 6’7” 285 pounds with a silky stroke, but also has a 40+ vertical and can dunk from the free throw line. I’ve watched basketball my whole life and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone as electrifying.
His highlight reel dunks and his ability to defy gravity make him an internet sensation. My words can’t do his game justice, so just watch and enjoy:
The following video is titled “Walking Bucket”, so that should tell you all you need to know about Reddish’s game. Cam has the total package on the offensive side of the basketball, as he is a standout shooter and great finisher. He is also versatile, can play on and off the ball, and can play either SG or SF. Reddish played PG in High School, which should help him gel with the other star-studded kids on the Duke roster.
So, which Duke Blue Devil should Bulls fans be most excited about? Either way, it is time for Bulls fans to start watching their games this upcoming season.