Bulls

LeBron, Cavs favorites for 2016 NBA title; Bulls second in East

lebronbullsbovada.png

LeBron, Cavs favorites for 2016 NBA title; Bulls second in East

Fred Hoiberg has some lofty expectations in his first year with the Bulls, at least according to one sports book.

Bovada released its 2016 NBA Championship odds on Wednesday, and the Bulls tout the fourth best overall odds at 10:1. Their odds are second in the Eastern Conference, unsurprisingly behind LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers.

James, who has been to five straight NBA Finals, and the Cavaliers have NBA-best 3:1 odds to win the title in 2016. They're followed by the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors (5:1) and an Oklahoma City Thunder team (7:1) that will get back Kevin Durant next season.

[BULLS: Jim Boylen named associate head coach]

The Bulls have considerably better odds than the Atlanta Hawks, the East's top seed in this year's playoffs. With DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap both potentially leaving via free agency, the Hawks' 25:1 odds are eighth best in the NBA.

These odds certainly will change following next week's NBA Draft and, more importantly, after free agency begins on July 1.

Here's a complete list of the odds.

TEAM ODDS
Cleveland Cavaliers 3:1
Golden State Warriors 5:1
Oklahoma City Thunder 7:1
Chicago Bulls 10:1
Los Angeles Clippers 10:1
San Antonio Spurs 10:1
Houston Rockets 18:1
Atlanta hawks 25:1
Memphis Grizzlies 25:1
Dallas Mavericks 33:1
Indiana Pacers 33:1
Miami Heat 33:1
New Orleans Pelicans 33:1
Portland Trailblazers 40:1
Toronto Raptors 40:1
Washington Wizards 40:1
Boston Celtics 50:1
Los Angeles Lakers 66:1
Denver Nuggets 100:1
Detroit Pistons 100:1
Milwaukee Bucks 100:1
Brooklyn Nets 100:1
New York Knicks 100:1
Phoenix Suns 100:1
Sacramento Kings 100:1
Utah Jazz 100:1
Minnesota Timberwolves 150:1
Charlotte Hornets 250:1
Orlando Magic 250:1
Philadelphia 76ers 250:1

It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel

uh-oh.jpg
USA TODAY

It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel

Over the last couple seasons we've had some fun on our Bulls Pregame Live shows with the ever-changing cast of characters at the point guard position. We even brought the point guard roulette wheel to the show a couple years ago when Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne all saw significant time at the position.

Grant began last season as the starter, followed by Kris Dunn and Payne with a little Ryan Arcidiacono mixed in.

But this season was supposed to be different. Dunn showed enough in his 52 game stint (13.4 points, 6 assists per game) in 2017-18 that he entered training camp as the unquestioned starter, with Payne and Arcidiacono as backups. The front office and coaching staff expected the 3rd year guard out of Providence to establish himself as a quality starter with elite skills at the defensive end.

Now, after playing just one regular season game, Dunn has been sidelined again, this time with a sprained left MCL suffered in his debut at Dallas Monday night. He's expected to miss 4-6 weeks of action, which should get him back on the court sometime in early December, right about the same time Lauri Markkanen is expected to return from his elbow injury.

So, what does Fred Hoiberg do now? Initially, you can expect Payne to replace Dunn in the starting lineup, with newly signed Shaq Harrison getting a look in the backup role. In case you don't know much about Harrison, he's an undrafted four-year player out of Tulsa, who spent most of the last two seasons in the NBA G-League. Like Dunn, Harrison is a physical 6'4" defense-first player who should be able to pressure some of the elite point guards the Bulls will face in the coming weeks. The front office showed their level of interest in Harrison's potential by signing him to a two-year NBA contract which includes a guaranteed salary for this season.

The Bulls also signed former Marian Catholic H.S. star Tyler Ulis to a two-way contract after he was released by Golden State in the final cutdown. Ulis started 58 games for Phoenix over the last two seasons, and is lightning quick in the open court. Problem is, he's generously listed at 5'10" which could create some serious issues at the defensive end.

And then there's always Arcidiacono, a Hoiberg favorite who's fundamentally sound, a solid defender and a decent outside shooter. Arcidiacono didn't play in Dallas Monday with Dunn back as the starter and it will be interesting to see how he's used with the coaching staff searching for answers at the position.

From my perspective, the Bulls' best option might be not going with a point guard at all in the starting lineup. Zach LaVine is on the hottest offensive streak of his young career, and he's most effective with the ball in his hands. LaVine played a lot of point guard during his rookie season in Minnesota, and he's more than capable of pushing the ball in transition.

Yes, I know having LaVine defend some of the high-scoring point guards around the league is not an ideal formula for success. The Bulls could move Justin Holiday to the shooting guard position, and see if he can match up defensively against opposing point guards. Again, not ideal.

The Bulls will be facing the likes of Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Steph Curry and Chris Paul over the next week and a half, and going without a true point guard might create defensive issues that are impossible to overcome. That's why you should expect to see Harrison take on a significant role in the upcoming games, since he's the only point guard currently available on the roster that has the physical skills to replicate in some fashion what Dunn brings on the defensive end.

Any way you look at it, the Bulls will be in survival mode over the next six weeks, trying to scratch out as many wins as they can until Markkanen and Dunn are healthy enough to get back on the court.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

dunn-dunn-dunn.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

Kelly Crull, Mark Strotman and Will Perdue react to the news that Kris Dunn will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

[MORE: It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel]

00:55     Strotman reacting to the injury, expectations now for team

3:00        Perdue on impact on defense

4:55        Expectation on who will get majority of minutes moving forward at PG

7:40        Where Bulls are mentally as a team 

11:30     How Hoiberg will approach the options at point guard

12:55     Will the Bulls consider tanking again?

14:50     Making the case for LaVine to run point with Blakeney at the 2

16:05     How Dunn’s injury could impact Markkanen’s return

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: