The Chicago Bulls find themselves just outside of the playoff picture, but could move up from ninth in the Eastern Conference with some minor adjustments. If the Bulls stay where they are now, they probably won’t be in a position to choose the best talent in the 2020 NBA Draft. They should make some changes and push for the playoffs now before the league’s February 6th trade deadline, and here’s what they should look for.
Lack of depth on the wing
Zach LaVine is Chicago’s best scorer, but Otto Porter Jr. might be just as important to the team. Porter was acquired by the Bulls ahead of last year’s trade deadline and is viewed as a critical piece on the team. But he’s played all of nine games this season because of a left foot injury. His ability to shoot the long ball and defend multiple positions at an elite level have been missed, as Chicago doesn’t have a viable backup for him right now. The Bulls have essentially been starting three guards by starting 6’4 Kris Dunn at small forward alongside LaVine and Tomas Satoransky. Porter will make this team a lot better on both ends when he’s back, but an insurance policy behind him would be nice.
Need for playmaking
Satoransky has emerged as Chicago’s primary playmaker, but 5.3 assists per game is a little low for a starting point guard. LaVine (4) and Dunn (3.4) rank second and third on the team in assists per game, respectively. The Bulls rank 22nd in the NBA in assists per game (23), and every team ahead of them in the standings averages more. Even if Satorasnky can’t be replaced right now, a backup point guard other than score-first Coby White could help get more Bulls involved in the offense.
Inexperienced/injury prone front court rotation
Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Daniel Gafford are all injured bigs under the age of 24. Their health problems have forced Chicago to resort to playing the Cristiano Felicio, who is averaging a mere 3.8 points and 4.3 rebound in 11 appearances this year. If Chicago wants to be in the playoff hunt, it could benefit from having a center in rotation who has more than three seasons under his belt as a regular rotational piece. The Bulls’ youth is a strength, but they need a veteran mentor other than Thaddeus Young to help them through adversity. Finding someone on an expiring contract would be ideal to help their young core develop.