Bulls Insider

Bulls camp questions: Will Drummond, Dragić fix needs?

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

Throughout this week, NBC Sports Chicago will look at four of the biggest questions facing the Chicago Bulls as they begin training camp.

We have already explored the issues of Lonzo Ball’s health (a story published before Wednesday’s news that Ball will need another knee procedure), Patrick Williams’ development and Zach LaVine’s post-max contract expectations.

Last in the series: Did management’s offseason moves do enough to address team needs?

Following an underwhelming first-round playoff loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bulls’ offseason to-do list seemed fairly straightforward.

Retain Zach LaVine. Work the margins to supplement the core continuity that management has publicly and consistently stated since February. Add shooting and rim protection. 

Check. Check. And... to be determined?

Re-signing LaVine to a five-year, $215 million maximum contract can’t be overstated in terms of its importance. It not only keeps in the fold an athletic, explosive scorer who has continually worked to improve his game, it provides franchise stability and a clear centerpiece bridging the Bulls’ present, in veterans DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević, and future in Patrick Williams, Ayo Dosunmu and Dalen Terry.

As for working the margins, you’d be hard-pressed to find two more solid veteran signings than center Andre Drummond and guard Goran Dragić, particularly for a franchise that seemed intent on staying under the luxury tax.


But do Drummond and Dragić specifically address the needs of improving shooting and rim protection, needs that management itself publicly stated?

Drummond remains an elite rebounder, one of the best of his generation, and, entering Year 11, has comfortably settled into a reserve role. In stints with Philadelphia and Brooklyn last season, he found ways to positively impact the game whether he started or came off the bench.

And while he does possess defensively mobility and has averaged 1.5 blocks over his career, he never has been known as an elite rim protector. That said, the Bulls believe they possess enough positional size to play multiple lineups and still be effective defensively.

As for Dragić, it’s instructive to remember that the Bulls first targeted Danilo Gallinari, who instead signed with the Boston Celtics. Gallinari since has suffered a torn left ACL while playing for Italy during a FIBA World Cup qualifying game.

Gallinari, who played for Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City, is a career 38.2 percent 3-point shooter on 5.1 attempts per game. Dragić, entering his 15th season, has shot 36.2 percent on 3.4 attempts per game.

The Bulls attempted just 28.8 3-point attempts per game last season, 30th in the NBA. They connected at 36.9 percent, fourth-best in the league.

Especially with Ball’s season debut delayed, Dragić’s role won’t merely be to launch 3-pointers. He’ll be tasked to run the team and serve as a veteran mentor for Dosnumu and Coby White, the latter of whom will have to play a crucial role in expanding the Bulls’ shooting.

Management worked the margins because it believes in the core that produced an Eastern Conference-leading record for a substantial portion of last season. The core continuity has taken a hit with Ball’s latest injury news.

Drummond and Dragić both are solid signings. Whether or not they address direct problem areas — such as when DeMar DeRozan’s arrival helped hike up the team’s free-throw attempts — remains to be seen.

On paper, the Eastern Conference improved. Soon, the games will tell us if the Bulls did.

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