The powerhouse that the Chicago Bulls created during the 1990’s was one of the most effective sports dynasties of all time. While Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson receive much of the credit for the team’s success, none of it could have been possible without GM, Jerry Krause, pulling the strings.
Krause made a ton of significant moves most notably drafting Scottie Pippen 5th overall in 1987 and trading for Dennis Rodman in 1995. Both these players were perfect compliments to Jordan along with the rest of the team he assembled. Sticking with Ron Harper as a role player after the return of Jordan also proved to be crucial to the team’s second “three-peat”.
The current Chicago Bull’s team has found themselves in a bit of a rut. They have good talent on their roster but can’t seem to put it all together as they find themselves battling for the eighth seed with a HUGE game tonight against Toronto. It also doesn’t help that they seem to be caught in purgatory between rebuilding and making a playoff run.
It seems as though Fred Hoiberg and this young Bulls team, especially in the wake of losing Dwayne Wade for the season with an elbow injury, could use some foresight from the late legend Jerry Krause. Therefore, I will channel my inner Krause and explain how I fell the team should be handled.
In my opinion, the key to Chicago’s rebuild (around Jimmy Butler of course) is Denzel Valentine. Valentine is an underrated 3 point shooter with the ability to get hot in a hurry. With more minutes, I can see him developing into a great shooter and the perfect complement to Butler. Jimmy is a good shooter but not a great one, and having a young athletic shooter like Valentine by his side could help them stretch the floor and become an excellent duo.
Along with increased minutes and touches for Valentine, it is important to take advantage of him defensively. Valentine is a bit small sitting at 6’5″ however he has incredibly long arms. His wingspan is about 6’10” and with one of the best two-way players in the NBA as a role model, there is a lot of potential here. I could totally see Valentine becoming a Klay Thompson type of player, although that would be best case scenario in terms of his 3 pt shot.
Another important part of this Bulls team is their depth at the guard position. Cameron Payne is a good young ball handler and I think getting him a good number of minutes on the floor with Butler and Valentine is important. He is crafty around the rim and has a good feel for the game.
Michael Carter Williams is a big guard who can defend as well as rebound the ball. He is still young and his body type could be a matchup nightmare. Not to mention they have another good shooter in Isaiah Canaan and a slasher with potential in Jerian Grant. I think it would be wise to forget Rondo, start Payne, and use MCW as a backup point guard.
As for the big men, I like Lopez and Felicio how they are now. Lopez is a solid rim protector and rebounder. He also has an underrated offensive game. Felicio is young, talented, and an absolute dog on the boards. I think with the proper guidance he could become a Tristan Thompson type of player which would fit in well with the scrappy Bulls especially if he is coming off of the bench.
And now the fours. I love the way that Bobby Portis has been developing. He has great energy and him and Mirotic translate well into the direction that the NBA seems to be going because they both can shoot the three. I would start Mirotic because of his experience and have Portis coming off the bench. A front court of him and Felicio would terrify opposing benches.
The fact of the matter is that the Bulls are not going to make a playoff run this year. The move for them at this point in time is to find the middle ground between tanking and trying. Don’t throw games, don’t rest starters. Play the young guys. A lot. It’s a win/win at this point for the team. They’ll get a ton of experience and either they win or they lose. If they lose, they’re that much closer to getting more young talent in the draft.
By: Chris Sanfilippo