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30 Teams in 30 Days

2020-21 NBA Season Preview: Are the Chicago Bulls ready to make the leap?

The 2020-21 NBA season is set to tip-off on Dec. 23. To get you ready for the year to come, we'll be dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.

Today, the Chicago Bulls take the spotlight.

2019-20 season record

22-43, 11th in the Eastern Conference

Notable additions

Patrick Williams, No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 Draft

Marko Simonovic, No. 44 overall pick in 2020 NBA Draft

Devon Dotson, Undrafted

Garrett Temple, Free agency

Noah Vonleh, Free agency

Notable departures

Kris Dunn, Free agency

Shaquille Harrison, Free agency

Adam Mokoka, Free agency

Max Strus, Free agency

Depth chart

Starter Second Third
PG Coby White Tomas Satoransky Ryan Arcidiacano
SG Zach LaVine Garrett Temple Denzel Valentine
SF Otto Porter Jr. Chandler Hutchinson Thaddeus Young
PF Lauri Markannen Patrick Williams Noah Vonleh
C Wendell Carter Jr. Daniel Gafford Cristiano Felicio

3 key storylines

The Billy Donovan era begins

The Bulls enter the 2020-21 season with a new head coach in place following two struggling seasons under Jim Boylen.

Boylen led the Bulls to a 39-84 record in his two seasons at the helm, with his hard-nosed style failing to win over the young Bulls locker room, which ultimately led to his firing.

Enter Billy Donovan.

The former Oklahoma City Thunder coach appears to be a great fit in Chicago, given his experience working with younger players at the college level in winning two national championships with Florida and, more recently, taking the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs.

Donovan boasts a .608 winning percentage in his five seasons as an NBA head coach, ranking 16th among coachers with at least 100 games. Only three current head coaches can claim better records - Nick Nurse (.721), Steve Kerr (.709) and Greg Popovich (.675).

The real test for Donovan will be establishing an identity for the Bulls, who have a host of talented young players but have yet to be able to consistently put the same teams on the floor due to injuries.

Which brings me to my next point...

Can they stay healthy?

Over the past two seasons, the Bulls development has been halted by a string of injuries to some of their best young players.

Games missed 2018-19 2019-20
Lauri Markakannen 30 15
Wendell Carter Jr. 38 22
Otto Porter Jr. 67 51

Porter Jr. and Carter Jr. have struggled to stay on the floor, while Markannen suffered a big drop off in production last season after being relegated to the role of a spot-up shooter.

After averaging 18.7 points and nine rebounds in his second year, his production fell to 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds, seeing less of the ball while having fewer plays called for him.

How Donovan uses Markannen this season will go a long way to determining their success this season, but ultimately that will be determined by their ability to stay on the floor and build chemistry.

All eyes on Patrick Williams

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Adam Silver announced the Bulls has selected Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, their highest draft selection since Derrick Rose was taken No.1 in 2008.

MORE: Will the Bulls draft night gamble pay off?

In Williams, the Bulls are getting a versatile 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward with a near 7-foot wingspan who adds plenty of athleticism on both ends of the floor. The front office relishes his fit alongside their established young core of Coby White, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markannen and Wendell Carter Jr.

"Defensive versatility is what we liked. Long arms. Big hands. Such an upside and potential," said Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Arturas Karnisovas. "This is what the NBA is today."

While Williams wasn't a starter in college, he was productive in his 22.6 minutes per game at Florida State last season, averaging 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds, shooting 32% from 3 on his way to being named Atlantic Coast Conference's Sixth Man of the Year.

The 19-year-old isn't expected to be the saviour of the franchise, but with a draft selection that high, all eyes will be on Williams this season.

5 games to watch

Oklahoma City Thunder, Date: TBD

After leading the Thunder to the playoffs in each of his five seasons at the helm, Billy Donovan and the franchise mutually agreed to part ways. Now, overseeing the young Bulls rebuild, a matchup against his former team and their young squad will be worth tuning in to.

Charlotte Hornets, date: TBD

Last season LaVine produced the best performance of his NBA career, going off for 49 points including two clutch 3-pointers to help the Bulls pull off an improbable comeback. Throw in the addition of LaMelo Ball on the Hornets and this game between two of the East's best young teams will be a must-watch.

Atlanta Hawks, Date: TBD

Coming up against one of the Eastern Conference's up-and-coming teams looking to make the playoffs, the Hawks represent what the Bulls could look like in a few years if they can surround their young core with a few veteran pieces.

Plus: Trae Young vs. Zach LaVine is a whole lot of buckets.

Dallas Mavericks, Date: TBD

This one is all about Lauri Markannen vs. Kristaps Porzingis, a player the Bulls forward has consistently been compared to due to their similar skillsets and style of play. The box office attraction of Luka Doncic is enough reason for fans to tune in.

Milwaukee Bucks, Date: TBD

A showdown with their division rivals and the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. What else could you want?

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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