Grading the Bulls' preseason performances

Grading the Bulls' preseason performances

The Bulls' five-game preseason slate is in the books, and their next stop will be in Philadelphia on Thursday.

But first, let's look back at how each of the Bulls fared.

Zach LaVine

The $78 million man couldn’t have had a better preseason. His deficiencies from last year’s injury-riddled, rusty campaign were non-existent in the five-game sample size. He shot 52 percent from the field and 44 percent from deep, but most importantly scored in a variety of ways. He showed a quick first step, shot with confidence coming off screens in catch-and-shoot situations, and was physical going to the rim; he led the Bulls with 4.8 free throw attempts per game. His defense was average, much like the rest of his teammates, and the 3.4 turnovers (and 1.4 assists) weren’t great. But given where he was a year ago to what we saw in October, LaVine passes with flying colors. Grade: A

Bobby Portis

The next man in line for a LaVine-like contract, Bobby Portis is well on his way to securing a similar type of deal. He began the preseason behind Jabari Parker but quickly played himself into the starting lineup. His 17.0 points on 54 percent shooting don’t truly do his preseason justice; he looked as comfortable as he’s ever been in the paint, was a defensive standout and had an infectious intensity that spread through the team. He’s a perfect complement to Wendell Carter Jr. and should be in line to start until Lauri Markkanen returns. Grade: A

Kris Dunn

This is going to sound familiar, but you should get used to hearing it: Kris Dunn was a mixed bag. He attempted 6.0 shots per game, which was less than Cameron Payne averaged and Dunn played more minutes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but his 3.4 turnovers and 3.6 assists per game were. Dunn disappeared for good stretches of the preseason, and whether he’s attempting to get an ever-changing rotation more rhythm and consistency by deferring, the Bulls will need more from him. His defense was top-notch, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. He has a serious chance of an All-NBA Defensive Team nod this season. He’s that good. The offense needs work. The defense will earn him 30 minutes a night. Grade: B-

Jabari Parker

At least he’s got Friday to build on. Parker couldn’t have had a worse preseason after signing a two-year, $40 million contract in July. Lauri Markkanen’s injury was supposed to be a silver lining for Parker, who got to move to his natural power forward position. Instead, Parker struggled mightily defensively, took low-percentage shots and didn’t exactly have the best attitude toward moving to the bench. He rebounded well in traffic, and appears to have all his bounce back from ACL surgery last season. And his 2.6 assists were a nice touch, as Hoiberg has mentioned multiple times wanting Parker to be a facilitator. But it was mostly bad, even with his 19-point outing in the preseason finale. He’s got a long way to go. Grade: D

Wendell Carter Jr.

Remind us how this guy is just 19 years old? There was no acclimation to the NBA for the rookie, as he debuted against Anthony Davis and then faced Myles Turner and Nikola Jokic in his first preseason starts. His numbers don’t jump off the page – 7.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.4 blocks – but the story was how comfortable he looks, how he doesn’t back down and isn’t afraid to protect the rim. He ran the floor exceptionally well and fits Fred Hoiberg’s offense to a tee. He’s the clear-cut best option at center. The Bulls hit on the seventh overall pick for the second straight year. Grade: B+

Robin Lopez

Where Carter was impressive, Lopez is very much trending in the opposite direction. He was oftentimes the worst player on the floor, and his numbers tell the story. In 16.9 minutes he averaged 2.0 points and 3.0 rebounds and he shot 5 of 22 (22.7 percent). That’s not to say Lopez won’t have a role this season, and an 11-year vet is certainly allowed to coast through the preseason. But it wasn’t a pretty preseason, and it likely cost him his starting gig. Grade: D-

Antonio Blakeney

You know what you’re getting with Blakeney. Not always instant offense, but certainly instant shot attempts. He attempted 10.2 shots in 21.2 minutes, averaging 12.8 points on 41 percent shooting. But it was also nice to see him affect the game in other areas; he averaged 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists and seemed to slow the game down more than he did in stints last year. He’ll likely have a role while Denzel Valentine, and even Markkanen, are out. Grade: B-

Justin Holiday

Holiday entered the starting lineup in the wake of Markkanen’s injury, and though his 3-point shot wasn’t falling (26.5 percent on 6.8 attempts) he’s a solid veteran presence on a team that needs them. He’s a help defensively on the wing for LaVine and an outlet on the wing for cutting ball handlers. He didn’t need to prove much in the preseason. Grade: B-

Chandler Hutchison

For all the promise Wendell Carter showed in the preseason, it was a quieter five-game stretch for the other first round pick. Hutchison showed off his length at times on the defensive end, and his athleticism is apparent. He seems comfortable pushing the ball in transition, which could pay off down the line. But right now the game seems too fast for him, and he’ll likely need some seasoning before truly contributing. The tools are there, but all told it was a disappointing start for the No. 22 pick. Grade: C-

Cameron Payne

The Bulls rolled the dice in choosing Payne over Jerian Grant this summer. And that hasn’t looked like a promising decision thus far. Payne struggled with his shot and his decision making was subpar the entire preseason. He pushes the ball well in transition and has the ability to find open shooters. But as a whole he really struggles, and his defense is non-existent. He’s got work to do, and Denzel Valentine may need to shoulder some point-guard load when he returns to the second unit. Grade: D

Ryan Arcidiacano

He played sparingly but looked more comfortable than he did a year ago. He’ll be a nice two-way player to have at their disposal, but nothing more. Grade: C

Cristiano Felicio

He’s buried on the depth chart behind Carter and Lopez. His foot speed and athleticism just simply haven’t gotten better. He’ll be an expensive cheerleader this season. Grade: F

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls notch 1st win in 2019


Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Bulls notch 1st win in 2019

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast; Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine recap the Bulls 104-88 win over Cleveland on Monday and discuss what this win means for the team and also the current state of the 2018-19 Chicago Bulls.

1:32 - Does beating the worst team in the league mean anything for the Bulls?

4:57 - Breaking down the wins in the 2018-19 Chicago Bulls season

8:50 - Are the Bulls willing to move on from Kris Dunn?

12:14 - On Wayne Selden Jr. getting more minutes than Jabari Parker

13:02 - Are the Outsiders "Night People?"

14:58 - Has it been better to be a Cavaliers fan or Bulls fan over the last 20 years?

21:09 - Three Potential Coaches who could replace Jim Boylen next season

23:45 - What if Stacey and Neil called Derrick Rose's game winner vs. Suns?

25:31 - The Outsiders "Dream" Coaching Candidates

Don't forget, you can watch Bulls Outsiders after Bulls Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago following every game. You can also stream the show on Facebook Live and interact with Matt, John and David.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Why Bulls should bring Derrick Rose back


Bulls Talk Podcast: Why Bulls should bring Derrick Rose back

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kelly Crull react to the Bulls win over the Cavaliers and Kendall explains why he thinks the Bulls should bring Derrick Rose back next season.

1:15 Bulls have several winnable games in upcoming stretch

2:45 On importance to team morale of beating the Cavs

3:30 Reaction to good game from Kris Dunn and importance of the next 3 months to him

8:45 Kendall on why players don’t get the development they need entering the NBA at 19 years old

12:00 Impact of losing on Zach LaVine

13:45 Kendall on why Derrick Rose would be a great fit for the Bulls next season

16:00 Why Bulls should look at Tobias Harris

18:00 Kendall discusses his dream lineup for next year

20:30 Expectations for upcoming home stand and what we’d like to see from the Bulls

23:30 Kelly on Bulls fans asking her questions at Cubs convention

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast