Posted on October 22 2019
After 6 games, the Bears are underwhelming us all. The good news: we have the Bulls to look forward to! They open their season this Wednesday on the road in Charlotte and make their home opener Saturday against Toronto. Here is our list of reasons to be excited about this year. Disclaimer: I use “we” a lot while talking about the Bulls. I know I am technically not on the team, but when you are this invested emotionally and financially for 30+ years...
1. Zach Lavine Will Be an All-Star The stars appear to be aligning for Zach, friend of 6 Clothing, to make the squad this year (he is more of an acquaintance than a friend. Well, maybe more accurately, he was stalked by Tom one time at the T-Mobile store). He began last season with all-star caliber output, but the Bulls lackluster record and other organizational woes (think “leadership committee”) had others getting the nod ahead of him. The whirlwind free agency activity of the summer of 2019 leaves a few holes in the East squad, especially at guard, and Zach has looked the part of all-star starter in the preseason. Typically effortlessly smooth and fast, he has been extra efficient shooting the ball and even putting in the defensive effort. Expect to see him representing the hometown Bulls at the NBA’s marquee event in February at the United Center.
2. Our 2019 Draft Class Remember when Ben Gordon won Sixth Man of the Year as a rookie? We might have another one on our hands in Coby White. He came in known as the fastest player in the draft and generally good dude (see reaction to UNC teammate being drafted below) and was almost universally regarded as both the best player available at pick 7 while also filling a position of need. However, while some are anxious for Coby to be the point guard of the future right now and throw him into the starting lineup, he is showing amazing promise playing off of the ball as a spark plug two-guard off of the bench. Second-round pick Daniel Gafford might not get too many meaningful minutes off of the bench this year, but the power forward looks like he is hustling and trying hard 100% of the time he is out there. He brings real energy and dunks the ball really hard, hopefully a young Taj Gibson in the making.
3. The New Scoreboard at the UC Four times the screen area. 8600 square feet of display. Screens underneath. Screens behind the screens. This thing is huge. If you haven’t seen it, yet, it is something to behold.
4. The Pinstripes are Back! This year’s statement jersey for 6 games this year is a “modern take” on the classic unis worn by the greatest team of all time. They appear to have more subtle striping and say CHICAGO instead of BULLS across the chest (shoutout Boylan), but we are excited nonetheless.
5. All-Star Weekend in Chicago While we feel optimistic about the future, as Bulls fans we cannot help to constantly look back and feel nostalgic, especially with the All-Star game returning for the first time since 1988. Lavine and Aaron Gordon might both make the team, but everyone is really hoping for a rematch of the best dunk contest of the last decade with perhaps a nod to the greatest dunk contest of all time in 1988.
Let's not forget about the weekend in general, the city should be buzzing with special events and celebrity sightings all week. Who doesn't want to see some Chicago natives take part in the celebrity game? Chance the Rapper would be great and all, but we have our sites set on Svengoolie, Fred Savage, Jenny McCarthy and Mr. T.
Last but certainly not least:
6. We’re Making The Playoffs! At least that’s the plan. On media day, it was refreshing to hear this stated goal rather than dancing around "tanking" with “young player development” and "process" and “Antonio Blakeney.” New vets Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young appear to be just what this team needs. Sato, fresh off of impressing the world with his underdog Czech Republic in the FIBA World Cup, is an excellent match with our starting lineup. He has good size and appears to be excellent at setting up his teammates and he does not dominate the ball, but can also hit an open shot. Thad Young is regarded around the league as a great locker room guy and has a history of being brought in to help stabilize young teams. He’s not too shabby in the post or on D as well.
Years after the front office’s goal of getting more “young and athletic,” while subsequently signing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, it appears as if it is actually happening. The Jabari Parker experiment last year didn’t pan out, but it helped us land Otto Porter, a perfect fit for this lineup, who played great in the handful of games he suited up in a Bulls uniform. Lauri Markkanen has the tools to be a star and hopefully will take the next step. Wendell Carter, with his high basketball IQ, after being sidelined much of last year, is back and many expect him to have a “breakout” season and already appears to be wise beyond his years. We have a team full of actual NBA players, not just a collection of G-leaguers. Fingers crossed that the injury bug stays away. We have a relatively easy schedule to start the season, which does mean a tougher schedule late in the year. However, nowadays, as teams jockey for position and pay closer attention to “load management” with their players, we could see some shorthanded opponents late in the year, working to our advantage.
Honorable mention: Benny the Bull. Benny could easily be numbers 1 through 6, as he is the best mascot in all of sports.
For these reasons and more, we cannot wait for the season to start. Worst case, if come February this season is not panning out like we had hoped (and we appear to be headed for more lottery balls and another 7th pick in the draft), we can always revert to living in the past and take in the ten-hour ESPN documentary on the glory years.