Bulls

Lauri Markkanen will start in his NBA debut; how have other Bulls fared doing so?

Lauri Markkanen will start in his NBA debut; how have other Bulls fared doing so?

One of the fallouts from the fight between Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic is that it unfortunately leaves a void at power forward for the Bulls.

Mirotic suffered a concussion and multiple facial fractures, while Bobby Portis was suspended for eight games on Wednesday. Both players will be out until the calendar flips to November, opening up minutes at power forward.

In the short-term, at least, the starting role will be filled by Lauri Markkanen, Hoiberg said.

Markkanen will join a list of eight other Bulls who started in their NBA debuts. Before Markkanen takes the floor tomorrow in Toronto, here's a look at those other rookies fared.

1983: Ennis Whatley, PG

The first underclassman selected in the 1983 NBA Draft (13th overall), Whatley scored six point on 3 of 6 shooting and tallied eight assists and two steals in his debut. He committed four turnovers but it didn't hurt the Bulls in their 104-97 win over the New Jersey Nets. Whatley wound up setting the Bulls rookie record for assists in a year (662; 8.3 per game) but was traded after two seasons due to substance abuse.

1984: Michael Jordan, SG

The highly anticipated debut of the Bulls' future was inauspicious. Jordan scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, but he did stuff the box score: he added six rebounds, seven assists, two steals and four blocks in a team-high 40 minutes. The Bulls, led by Orlando Woolridge and Quintin Dailey, cruised to a 109-93 win over the Bullets. Jordan bounced back nicely, though, averaging 28.2 points in the following 14 games. You know the rest.

1999: Elton Brand

Brand debuted against the Knicks on Opening Night, scoring 14 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He went 8-for-10 from the free throw line and added to his line with eight rebounds and two blocks in 35 minutes. The Bulls, entering some of the uglier days in franchise history, lost to the Knicks, 84-74. Brand wound up splitting Rookie of the Year honors with Steve Francis, averaging a double-double (20.1 points, 10.0 rebounds) for the 17-65 Bulls. He was traded for high school star Tyson Chandler a year later.

2000: Khalid El-Amin

The only second-round pick on this list, El-Amin started at point guard against a Kings team that wound up winning 57 games. El-Amin held his own in the 100-81 loss, scoring 11 points and handing out three assists in 27 minutes. He shot 4-for-7 and connected on his only 3-point attempt. It was one of 14 games El-Amin started before being replaced by none other than Fred Hoiberg. It was El-Amin's only season in the NBA.

2002: Jay Williams

What could have been. The No, 2 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft shined in his NBA debut, going for 13 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 33 minutes. The Bulls topped the eventually playoff-bound Celtics, 99-96. Williams played 75 games as a rookie, averaging 9.5 points and 4.7 assists. A motorcycle accident that following offseason derailed his career far too soon.

2004: Andres Nocioni

Nocioni signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004, and the 25-year-old was ready to play out of the gates. His 17 points were the most of anyone's debut on this list, but he shot 5-for-19 and committed five turnovers in 42 minutes. It wasn't all bad, though, as he grabbed 14 rebounds and had two steals before fouling out in the final minute of double overtime against the Nets. The Bulls fell, 111-106. Nocioni struggled in his rookie season after that, finishing with averages of 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds.

2004: Ben Gordon

Not exactly the greatest debut for the 3rd pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Gordon missed all six of his shots from the field and made three free throws in 17 minutes. That was it outside of one turnover and one personal foul. And there's some irony in the fact that Gordon started this game; he only started two other games that rookie season, and was named the Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 15.1 points on 40.5 percent shooting from deep.

2008: Derrick Rose

It was a quiet debut for the eventual Rookie of the Year. Rose, the overall No. 1 pick that June, scored 11 points on 3-for-9 shooting and handed out nine assists in the Bulls' win over the Bucks. Rose went on to average 16.8 points and 6.3 assists in 37.0 minutes that season, and he'd be named an All-Star the following three seasons after that. Ah, the good ol' days.

NBA Draft Tracker: Texas A&M PF-C Robert Williams

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Texas A&M PF-C Robert Williams

For all the times coaches, executives and media members lament college prospects leaving too early to start their NBA careers, there are also instances where returning for another collegiate season winds up costing a player some money.

Take the case of Texas A&M big man Robert Williams. He was projected to be a top 10 pick after averaging a modest 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds as a freshman in 2016-17. Scouts liked his explosive leaping ability at 6'10", 240 pounds, and figured his offensive skills would continue to expand with more drill work and better coaching at the NBA level.

Instead, Williams decided to return to College Station for his sophomore season and looked even more unpolished on the offensive end when he was asked to move out of the post to make room for fellow big man Tyler Davis. Williams put up comparable numbers this past season, averaging 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds, and he did improve his shooting percentage from .558 to .632.

Problem is, most of those shot attempts were alley-oop dunks and putbacks. Williams failed to develop any consistent low post moves last summer, and seemed to be lost playing in the shadow of the more offensively talented Davis.

Still, Williams showed off enough raw athletic ability that he has a decent shot at being selected late in the lottery this June.

The Clippers hold back to back picks at 12 and 13, and there's a chance the Clips could lose veteran center DeAndre Jordan in free agency (although Jordan will have a difficult time topping his 24.1 million dollar player option for next season). Doc Rivers' team might not be known as "Lob City" any more with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul no longer around as headliners, but adding an explosive athlete like Williams could make sense at that point in the draft.

Is Williams a possible fit for the Bulls? Not likely, unless he somehow falls to the pick they acquired from the Pelicans, which is No. 22 overall. The Bulls could consider drafting a developmental big at that point since both Robin Lopez and Omer Asik are entering the last year of their contracts (Asik has a $3 million buyout for 2019-20), leaving Cristiano Felicio as the only true center on the roster.

Don't be surprised if the Bulls look at a possible international draft and stash prospect (Dzanan Musa or Rodions Kurucs, both small forwards) at No. 22 with so many young players already on the roster.

With the NBA again talking about eliminating the one-and-done rule (perhaps as early as the 2020 draft), players like Williams and Michigan State's Miles Bridges might find themselves getting over-drafted right out of high school based on potential alone. But that's a discussion for another day.

The 2018 draft will provide another lesson that it's dangerous to assume players will automatically get better by spending an extra season or two competing on the college level.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Do Bulls have a realistic chance of landing Paul George?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Do Bulls have a realistic chance of landing Paul George?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson discuss the chances of the Bulls signing Paul George in free agency this summer.

Plus, would Jimmy Butler really want to finish his career in Chicago? Also, a look around the NBA playoffs including the surprise performance of Derrick Rose, and you don’t want to miss the offer that Kendall makes Vincent Goodwill – it may be too tough for Vinnie to pass up.

Listen to the full Bulls Talk Podcast right here: