Bulls' Top Needs in 2022 NBA Draft
So much for that.
While the Bulls are "considered likely" to keep All-Star guard Zach LaVine in free agency, per B/R's Jake Fischer, "the premise that Zach LaVine's contract expiration would swiftly result in a lucrative extension with Chicago has dissolved."
Regardless what happens with LaVine, the Bulls must do more than run back a roster that started strong but eventually slipped among a rash of injuries and severe regression on the defensive end.
As they probe for potential upgrades, the following areas are worth prioritizing on draft night.
While any offense built around DeMar DeRozan is certain to feature a good amount of mid-range shooting, the Bulls need to balance their spacing around him.
Chicago's shooters were accurate when they took aim from distance (36.9 percent, fourth overall), their volume was almost nonexistent. The Bulls were 29th in three-point makes (10.6 per game) and dead last in attempts (28.8).
Losing Lonzo Ball to injury didn't help, since that pulled a player responsible for 3.1 triples per night (on 42.3 percent shooting) out of the equation. Still, Chicago needs more to close the perimeter gap with the rest of this league.
A spot-up sniper would be ideal. LaVine and Coby White both like to launch off of the dribble, and Ball looks for the pass first before considering hoisting it himself. As NBA.com's Sam Smith put it, "The Bulls lack the kind of player who finds space waiting for a pass so he can shoot."
Defensive concerns surfaced before the campaign even tipped off, as there were justifiable hesitations about the defensive ceiling of a club constructed around the offensive-minded trio of LaVine, DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.
The Bulls silenced some of those doubts early on, thanks in large part to the peskiness and energy of Ball and Alex Caruso. It wouldn't last, though. Chicago had the league's sixth-stingiest defense in October, per NBA.com, then dipped to 11th in November. The bottom dropped out in December, when the team plummeted to 22nd in defensive efficiency.
Staying healthy would obviously help. Injuries limited Ball and Caruso to a combined 76 appearances, and Chicago struggled mightily to mask those absences.
Still, the Bulls need to put more eggs in this basket. A lockdown, big-wing defender who isn't a total liability on offense would go a long way toward putting this team in position to contend.
There aren't many NBA centers with more skill than Vucevic.
There are, however, a boatload of bigs with more bounce.
If forced to choose, you'd take skill over athleticism, but ideally you'd have both—if not from the same player, then at least a combination of the two on the roster. While the Bulls have some springy athletes, they don't have enough of them up front.
A shot-blocker could help shore up the back line of the defense. A lob finisher could add an element of vertical spacing, since his rim rolls would suck in defenders and free up shooters outside. A big who checks both boxes could give a jolt of electricity to this team, even if he'd almost certainly be plugged into a supporting role behind Vucevic.