Bulls

Top 10 Bulls of the decade: From the Rose years to the rebuild

Top 10 Bulls of the decade: From the Rose years to the rebuild

The 2010s are about to be in the books, so we took a look back at the top 10 players from that decade of the Bulls franchise. A handful of different factors went into the equation, including longevity, per-game performance, team success and individual accolades such as All-Star appearances, Defensive Player of the Year votes and MVPs.

10. Nikola Mirotic (2014-2018; 243 games): 11.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 3-pointers

No Bulls player made more 3-pointers in the 2010s than Mirotic, who poured in 432 triples in three-plus seasons. He never fully reached his potential in Chicago – and a right hook from Bobby Portis essentially ended his time in Chicago – after finishing second to Andrew Wiggins in the 2015 Rookie of the Year voting, but Mirotic had some stellar stretches for the Bulls. Most notably, his red-hot Marches and his sparkling December/January stretch that allowed the Bulls to net a first-round pick from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for him.

In addition to being the 3-point champion of the 2010s, Mirotic ranks seventh in points, seventh in rebounds, eighth in games, eighth in steals and eighth in blocks. Whether you liked him or thought he was overrated, Mirotic put up numbers for the Bulls.

9. Lauri Markkanen (2017-2019; 120 games): 16.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 3-pointers

Too soon to put him on the list? Maybe, but in just two seasons Markkanen ranked 12th in points and 11th in rebounds over the last decade for the Bulls. He’s also 8th in made 3-pointers and gets a few added bonus points for being the potential face of the franchise in the post-Jimmy Butler era.

Markkanen has posted impressive numbers despite the fact that the Bulls have been tanking around him the last two seasons, plus a head-coaching change right after his return from an elbow injury and a heart scare at the end of last season. He provides one of the most unique skill sets the franchise has ever seen and should only improve in Year 3 with a clean bill of health, a stable head-coaching situation and more talent around him.

8. Robin Lopez (2016-2019; 219 games): 10.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 blocks

This is the one that probably has you scratching your head. In terms of on-court production, Lopez quietly put together three really nice seasons. Among Bulls in the 2010s, he ranks 10th in games played, 10th in points, 10th in rebounds and fourth in blocks. He’s also second in field goal percentage. So the numbers give him credibility on the list despite him playing just three seasons in Chicago.

But his off-the-court productivity is noteworthy, too. He was the veteran leader both with the Three Amigos fiasco of a season and during two years of rebuilds. He dealt with DNP’s, 12-minute first quarters and then 36 straight minutes on the bench, and then watched the Bulls draft his replacement in Wendell Carter Jr. Lopez then took Carter under his watch and helped the 19-year-old rookie acclimate to the NBA. He was also one of the key veterans in keeping the peace during Jim Boylen’s wild first week as head coach. Lopez was never an All-Star in Chicago, but he left a great impression on the entire organization.

7. Pau Gasol (2014-2016; 150 games): 17.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks

Gasol was the consolation prize for Carmelo Anthony but proved to be one of the best signings from the draft class. He had a career rejuvenation in Chicago, making two All-Star appearances, helping lead the Bulls to the postseason twice, and posting some gaudy numbers in his ages 34 and 35 campaigns.

Despite playing just two seasons with the Bulls, his ranks among the 2010s Bulls include: eighth in points, sixth in rebounds, ninth in assists, third in blocks and 10th in games. It happened while Jimmy Butler was ascending to stardom and that buried Gasol’s accomplishments some, but the Spaniard was a great addition in Chicago.

6. Carlos Boozer (2010-2014; 280 games): 15.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Stop punching the air. Though he was certainly not the main target during the historic 2010 free agent class, Boozer put together four solid seasons with the Bulls. Though he was never able to replicate the numbers he posted during his Jazz days, Boozer still finished the 2010s ranked fifth in points, third in rebounds, seventh in steals, 10th in blocks and seventh in games.

He’ll always be remembered as “the guy the Bulls signed instead of LeBron James” but he wound up working out for the Bulls. Holdat.

5. Taj Gibson (2009-2017): 9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks

No. 5 on our list, but forever No. 1 in our hearts. No player appeared in more games or played more minutes for the Bulls in the 2010s than Gibson, who finished third in points, second in rebounds, fourth in steals and first in blocks. Along the way, Gibson spent more than half his games coming off the bench in favor of Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol, all the while being the consummate teammate and locker room presence.

He also provided the lasting in-game memory of the 2010s Bulls when he dunked all over Dwyane Wade in Game 1 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. Let’s just forget that he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Cameron Payne and remember the good times.

4. Luol Deng (2010-2014): 16.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals

Deng had played five NBA seasons before the 2010s rolled around but enjoyed his best seasons in that era. He was named an All-Star twice while leading the NBA in minutes per game both seasons, went toe-to-toe with LeBron James in some unforgettable playoff series, and hit his fair share of clutch shots.

In the 2010s alone, Deng ranked fourth in points, fourth in rebounds, fifth in assists, third in steals, fifth in 3-pointers, sixth in blocks and sixth in games. An all-around, two-way player who certainly has an argument to be even higher on this list.

3. Jimmy Butler (2011-2017): 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals

Butler made one of the most unlikely rises to stardom of any player in the 2010s, from late first-round pick to four-time All-Star in the span of four seasons. Butler watched as Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose all departed before him to make him the face of the franchise. Though Butler never got the Bulls past the second round of the playoffs and wound up being the outgoing piece to begin the Bulls’ rebuild in 2017, he was still one of the team’s best players of the last decade.

He ranked second in points, fifth in rebounds, third in assists, first in steals, fifth in blocks, first in made free throws and third in games. It’s a shame neither side could make the relationship work that would have allowed Butler to add on to those numbers the last few seasons, but both parties seem better off.

2. Joakim Noah (2009-2016): 10.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 blocks

Noah played his first two NBA seasons in the 2000s but was a budding star by the time the 2010s rolled around. All Noah did in seven Bulls seasons was earn two All-Star berths, win Defensive Player of the Year and finish fifth in the MVP voting in 2014.

Noah is littered across the 2010s Bulls leaderboard: Sixth in points, first in rebounds, second in assists, second in steals, second in blocks, second in games and second in minutes. Injuries eventually took their toll on Noah, who was a shell of himself by the time the Bulls moved on in 2016, but he was an easy choice for No. 2 on this list.

1. Derrick Rose (2009-2016): 20.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 0.8 steals

Rose ended the 2000s in style by winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2009, but he was just getting started. Over the next seven seasons (six years), Rose became the youngest MVP in league history, went to three All-Star Games, signed a shoe deal with adidas and was the driving force behind a pair of top seeds in the Eastern Conference, including a 62-win campaign in 2011.

Among the 2010s Bulls, Rose ranks first in points, first in assists, sixth in steals, eighth in blocks, fourth in 3-pointers, fourth in games and fifth in minutes. Debate his legacy in Chicago all you’d like, but there wasn’t a better or more accomplished player during the last decade than Pooh.

 

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.

2-time All-Star Luol Deng signs 1-day contract to retire as a Bull

2-time All-Star Luol Deng signs 1-day contract to retire as a Bull

Luol Deng experienced plenty of highs and lows throughout his nine-plus seasons with the Bulls.

But his love for the organization that acquired him in a 2004 draft-day trade never wavered, even after it traded him to the Cavaliers in January 2014 in a move to exit the luxury tax.

That’s why Deng signed a ceremonial, one-day contract Thursday so that he could retire as a Bull.

“From the moment we made Luol Deng the seventh overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls became a better team,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “Luol carried himself with first-class professionalism and leadership, helping lead his Bulls team to eight playoff appearances during his time in Chicago. We’ll always remember his All-Star career and the fierce competitiveness he brought to both ends of the floor every night.”

“We’re very fortunate and humbled that Luol has chosen to retire as a Chicago Bull,” Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf said. “He was a role model on and off the court during his nine-plus years in Chicago, and he gave everything he had to help us win. I want to thank Luol for not only what he accomplished on the court for the team, but also for the leadership he demonstrated through his philanthropic efforts.”

Deng, a two-time All-Star, is all over the franchise leaderboard. He’s tied for fourth by playing in parts of 10 seasons with the Bulls. He’s sixth in games played, fifth in minutes, fourth in points, fifth in field goals, ninth in rebounds, fifth in steals, seventh in 3-pointers and eighth in free throws.

But Deng’s impact with the Bulls moved past numbers. When he arrived with Ben Gordon, one season after the Bulls drafted Kirk Hinrich, Deng helped pull the Bulls from their post-dynasty funk and transform them into a perennial playoff team. He chose to play through a torn wrist ligament so that he could represent his adopted homeland of Great Britain at the 2014 Summer Olympics.

He became a two-time All-Star as Tom Thibodeau’s indispensable, two-way forward, consistently ranking near the top of the NBA in minutes played. And his community service through his Luol Deng Foundation featured Chicago and global reach.

The day after the trade to the Cavaliers, Deng talked to this author at length while standing inside the Cavaliers practice facility.

"I had an opportunity to play for a great organization. I've been very lucky to play 10 years for the only team that I ever knew as a kid," Deng said that January 2014 day. "I only knew Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Bulls when I was 7 years old and in Egypt. For me to be the fourth-leading scorer on that team, did I ever think a refugee kid in Egypt would even play for the Bulls? There's a lot of amazing things that have happened."

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.

Kris Dunn takes team-first approach to reserve role behind Tomas Satoransky

Kris Dunn takes team-first approach to reserve role behind Tomas Satoransky

Not even a reserve role can shake Kris Dunn’s resolve.

Continuing his completely different tone from the end of last season in his comments to reporters, Dunn took the news that he’ll back up Tomas Satoransky in stride Thursday in advance of the Bulls’ final preseason game versus the Hawks.

“Just being positive, cheering guys on. Just bringing my energy. I’m an energetic guy. That’s just my personality. I just bring it to the gym and allow that good energy to resonate on the floor and to the other guys,” Dunn said at the Advocate Center. “You need (depth) in the league. There are going to be games where the starters come out flat and the second unit is going to have to pick it up and allow them to come back in and finish the game. Just having depth is a good thing because injuries occur. You need backups you can trust.”

At the tail end of last season, as Dunn got publicly challenged by executive vice president John Paxson and phased out of the Bulls’ core in the team’s public comments, the guard acted sullen at times. But he reported to voluntary September workouts with a renewed energy and mental approach after a self-proclaimed offseason of reflection.

“I just appreciate Coach (Jim Boylen) talking to me and being straightforward and being truthful to me,” Dunn said. “I’m going to do my job and do what’s best for the team.”

Dunn started two of the first four preaseason games but largely played with reserves. Does he feel he got a fair shot at keeping his starting job?

“I’m not really going to speak on that. I feel I’m in a great spot. I love what the coaching staff is doing with me and the team. We have a great group of guys,” Dunn said. “We’re going to play hard every game and hopefully make that playoff push.”

And Dunn, who recorded six steals last Friday in Indiana, believes he still has an important role.

“My greatest strength right now is defense. I know that. My teammates know that. It’s no surprise to the team,” he said. “I bring it each day.”

Boylen is appreciative of Dunn’s attitude.

“Before I could even get out the words, ‘Kris, I’m going to bring you off the bench to start the season,’ he had already said, ‘Coach, I’m going to do whatever you need me to do and I’m ready for what you want me to do.’ Before I could even get it out. It was a two-minute conversation,” Boylen said. “I’ve always said he has great heart for the team. He has always been very coachable. He accepts criticism. He owns his mistakes. His response is all about the team and what we’re trying to build. It’s role definition and it’s role acceptance. His role acceptance is off the charts.”

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.