Why the Bulls are in their best position since MJ days

NBA power rankings: Chicago Bulls
Dec 13, 2018; Mexico City, MEX; Chicago Bulls guard Zach Lavine (8) drives off a pick set by center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) against the Orlando Magic at Arena Ciudad de Mexico. Mandatory Credit: Jorge N ez-EFE via USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls are coming off a 60-loss season. They have one of the most embattled front offices in all of professional sports. It’s really been a dark basketball time around the Windy City since Derrick Rose earned MVP honors what seems to be eons ago.

Things could, however, be on the verge of changing for the better. Chicago has put in some tremendous work over the past two offseasons, rebuilding its roster from scratch and adding a ton of talent to the mix.

It lends credence to the idea that these Bulls are in their best position since Michael Jordan was bringing titles to Chicago. Here’s why.

Star power: The Jimmy Butler trade helped big time.

  • Acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Butler prior to the 2017-18 season, the 24-year-old Zach LaVine has morphed into a true star in Chicago.
  • Last season saw LaVine average 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field. It’s his improved outside shot that has turned the former lottery pick into a great two-way player.
  • Chicago had reportedly been open to the idea of trading LaVine. That never really made any sense. Now that he’s here to stay, things are only looking up on that front.

Veteran leadership: The Bulls aced free agency in this regard.

  • While Chicago did not go after top-end free agents on the open market, it did add a number of tremendous secondary pieces behind the core group.
  • Thaddeus Young has been among the most underrated players in the game over the past decade. That span has seen the forward average 11-plus points and five-plus rebounds each season.
  • Young is joined by former Washington Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky as a free-agent steal for Chicago.
  • All he’s done over the past two seasons is shoot a combined 40-plus from distance. Satoransky averaged a career-best 8.9 points and 5.0 assists last season. He could start at the point.

Lauri Markkanen: The Finn could be Chicago’s next star.

  • The Bulls have made sure to hang on to Markkanen ever since they received the right to acquire him in the draft day deal involving Jimmy Butler back in 2017.
  • It has paid off big time. Markkanen averaged 18.7 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 36 percent from distance as a sophomore last season.
  • Just 22 years old, everything is pointing upward for the young power forward.

Don’t sleep: Wendell Carter is going to be really good.

  • Selected No. 7 overall in last year’s NBA Draft, Carter did not make waves like other rookies such as Luka Doncic and Trae Young.
  • In no way does this mean Carter is anywhere near becoming a bust. The big man averaged 10.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in 44 games.
  • The hope here is that Carter takes that next step as a sophomore. If so, the sky is the limit.

Chicago’s decision to select North Carolina’s Coby White No. 7 overall in last month’s draft was interesting. He can play the point, but is seen as more of a shoot-first type of guy. That is the same role LaVine plays.

Even then, the Bulls are seeking an upgrade from Kris Dunn in the back court. Whether it’s White or Satoransky starting, that is an upgrade.

It’s in this that a starting five consisting of White/Satoransky, LaVine, Carter, Markkanen and Young looks really darn nice.

It won’t be enough to crack the upper-echelon of Eastern Conference teams. But we would not be surprised if Chicago were to make it as a seventh or eighth seed.

Given the young talent this squad boasts, the future seems as bright as at any point since Jordan won his sixth title with the Bulls.