Bulls

Ten games to mark down on Bulls 2016-17 schedule

Ten games to mark down on Bulls 2016-17 schedule

The Bulls had as busy an offseason as any team in the NBA, which means there will be plenty of headliner games on their 2016-17 schedule, which the league announced Thursday.

Here are ten that all fans should have circled on their calendars:

1. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah return to the United Center (Nov. 4)

For the first time in a decade the Bulls are without one of Joakim Noah or Derrick Rose. Arguably the two most crucial pieces to the Bulls' run in that span, Rose was dealt to New York less than a month before Noah signed with the hometown Knicks in free agency. Seeing both players competing inside the United Center in different uniforms for the first time - they've combined for 491 games in Chicago - will be a sight to see. And despite Rose's injury-prone career irking some fans, expect both players to receive standing ovations upon their introductions from PA announcer Tommy Edwards.

2. Hosting LeBron James and the champion Cavaliers (Dec. 2)

With the Cavs, LeBron James has played 35 regular-season games against the Bulls. But he's never faced them as a reigning NBA champion. Even with Kevin Durant joining the 73-win Warriors, the Cavaliers are the team to beat in the NBA until further notice. And they're certainly the team to beat in the East, as James has won the conference each of the last six seasons. The Bulls took two of four from the Cavaliers last season, and could gain a real confidence boost by doing so again. It will also mark the first meeting between Dwyane Wade and James, two close friends, since Wade joined the Bulls. It's always must-see TV when those two go up against each other.

3. Dwyane Wade returns to Miami playing for the opposition (Nov. 10)

Wade spent 13 years in Miami, playing a combined 524 regular-season and postseason games in South Beach. That will change this season, as he makes his return to Miami wearing a different uniform for the first time. As emotional a return as it will be for Wade, who is sure to receive a standing ovation, it could wind up being an important game for both teams battling for positioning in the Eastern Conference. 

4. Tom Thibodeau takes his Timberpups to Chicago (Dec. 13)

The former Bulls coach already returned to the United Center this summer as an assistant for USA Basketball. But when he brings with him the most talented group of young players in the NBA, expect some serious competition. With the previous two Rookies of the Year, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, as well as Zach LaVine, rookie Kris Dunn and Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves will prove to be a stiff test under the defensive-minded Thibodeau. Remember, too, that the Bulls were heavily interested in acquiring Dunn before this year's draft. Thibodeau and the T-Wolves took the Providence guard with the fifth pick.

5. KD, Steph, Draymond and Klay bring their superteam to the Windy City (March 2)

Like they did to most teams last season, the Warriors entered the United Center and stepped on the Bulls' throat from the opening tip in January. They led by 16 after the first quarter and cruised to a 31-point victory, extending their record to 39-4 on their way to 73 wins. All the Warriors did this offseason was add the game's best scorer in Kevin Durant, making Golden State's only trip to the Windy City must-see. 

6. Bulls open the season with new-look Celtics (Oct. 27)

The Bulls and Celtics were reportedly discussing a deal for Jimmy Butler on draft night, but nothing appeared close to getting done. Instead, the Celtics hung on to their core, drafted Cal's Jaylen Brown and wound up signing All-Star big man Al Horford in free agency. That's put them right in the thick of the Eastern Conference hunt, and it should create an electric atmosphere on Opening Night. It'll also pit two former Marquette teammates together in Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder. Free agent acquisition Rajon Rondo also spent the first nine years of his NBA career with the Celtics.

7. Bulls will play on Christmas Day for the 21st time in franchise history (Dec. 25)

The additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo this offseason made the Bulls a team to watch this season. And the NBA rewarded them by slotting them in for the late afternoon game on Christmas Day against the Spurs. It's the 21st time they've played on Christmas, sporting a 13-7 record that included an impressive road victory over the Thunder last season. It's the seventh straight season they've played on the holiday, and it will mark the Bulls' first matchup against Pau Gasol, who left for San Antonio in free agency this summer.

8. Pau Gasol and the Tim Duncan-less Spurs arrive (Dec. 8)

The Spurs will be ushering in a new era of basketball this season after Tim Duncan's retirement. It'll be the first time since 1996 the Bulls square off against a Duncan-less Spurs. But Gregg Popovich's team isn't necessarily getting that much younger. They grabbed Pau Gasol in free agency - two years after the Spaniard almost chose the Spurs over the Bulls. It'll be an emotional return for Gasol, who always spoke highly of Chicago and his time with the Bulls. It was simply time to move on after two seasons in Chicago. Still, he'll receive a nice ovation from the fans after he averaged 17.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 150 games for the Bulls. He also made two All-Star appearances during his time with the Bulls.

9. Looking to keep the streak going against the Raptors (Jan. 7)

It has to be one of the oddest winning streaks in basketball, but the Bulls have reeled off nine straight victories - spanning three seasons - against the Raptors. That's the same Raptors team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and re-signed DeMar DeRozan to a max deal. They'll face each other four more times this year, and if they can win the season series again - another sweep seems unlikely - it could pay off significant dividends if they met in the postseason. This matchup will also pit Team USA members against each other, with DeRozan and Kyle Lowry representing the Raptors in Rio, and Jimmy Butler doing the same for the Bulls.

10. Anthony Davis comes to Chicago, plus a battle of rookie All-Americans (Jan. 14)

It's always a fun homecoming when Chicago native Anthony Davis returns. And this time he's bringing company. Not only will E'Twaun Moore be making his first appearance in Chicago since leaving the team in free agency. Oklahoma sensation Buddy Hield, who the Pelicans selected with the No. 6 pick in June's NBA Draft, will go toe-to-toe with former Michigan State sharpshooter Denzel Valentine. It will pit college basketball's two best players from last year against each other in what should be a high-scoring affair.

Here's a look at the Bulls' entire 2016-17 schedule. Click to enhance the image.

Our first look at the full NBA 2K20 roster models for the 2019-20 Bulls

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USA TODAY

Our first look at the full NBA 2K20 roster models for the 2019-20 Bulls

The release date of NBA 2K20 is near and as the September 6 release date gets closer, Bulls fans are finally getting a look at the full roster in video game form. 

Among the things that stand out in the video from Sports & Gaming Journalist Brian Mazique, the things that stood out the most was the new Zenni patch on the Bulls uniforms, which now has a light blue background to make the patch stand out a bit more. 

We had already seen how 2019 rookies Coby White and Daniel Gafford look but Thursday represented our first look at players like new Bulls Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky and the longest-tenured Bull, Brazilian big man Cristiano Felicio.

Young currently sports a short-haircut after having more an afro in the 2019 season, so only time will tell if 2K will update his look before the season kicks off on October 22. 

Also fully visible in the video are the overall 2K ratings of all players on the team including Satoransky (75), Young (79), Wendell Carter Jr. (78), Otto Porter (80), Lauri Markkanen (83) and Zach LaVine (85).

Based off of what we see in the video, NBA fans can expect to see the Bulls simulate pretty well in NBA 2K20 as the roster's veteran talent will provide some balance as the young core develops, much like what the Bulls front office is hoping for in real life. 

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Lauri Markkanen makes the top 35 NBCsport's 50 best players in 5 years

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen makes the top 35 NBCsport's 50 best players in 5 years

Over the summer the NBA team over at NBC Sports undertook a fun project in which they ranked the top 50 talents in the NBA in 2024. 

NBCSports.com's 50 best players in 5 years list is an interesting snapshot into the future of the league. Writers included Dan FeldmanTom HaberstrohRob DausterTommy BeerSteve Alexander, and Kurt Helin

While it is was fun to see where aging versions of Steph Curry (36 in 2024) and Klay Thomspon (34 in 2024) rank, the most interesting names on the list were the young talents who are projected to stars in the near future. Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen made the top 35, coming in at No. 34 on the list.

In the 2024 season, Markkanen will be 27 years old and theoretically, smack dab in the middle of his prime.

Coming into the 2019-20 season, 'The Finnisher' is on quite a roll. In his age-21 season, he averaged 20.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes and posted a career-best 55.3 true shooting percentage. 

The Bulls will need to Markkanen to step up his effort in terms of defense and rebounding, with the absence of Robin Lopez putting more stress on the frontcourt to pick up the slack in that department. Kurt Hellin acknowledged that if he can focus on consistency and commitment to D, the sky is truly the limit for Markkanen. 

The question is, can he [Markkanen] reach that ceiling consistently? He’s only 22, but he has yet to come anywhere near that.....If Markkanen can become a more consistent offensive force and better on the defensive end — he’s not a bad defender, he’s okay, but with his length and athleticism he should be a better rim protector — he can take over the role as the alpha on the Bulls

See the rest of NBCSports.com's 50 best players in 5 years list below:

Players 50-46

Players 45-41

Players 40-36

Players 35-31