Welcome to the 2017-18 season of Chicago Bulls basketball. This is a season at least 2 years in the making (due to the front office's sluggish start to a rebuild). Expectations are high this year, but not for wins, no, for simple progress. Chicago needs to see all of the young assets we've acquired progress, and we need to see competency and stability (mental, not physical) from our front office. Stepping into this season there are many questions. I've chosen to highlight 5. MJ willing, we'll have answers by the time the Warriors begin there run at there fourth straight finals.
1. Where will Doug Collins fit in the Bulls organization?
On September 19th Doug Collins was hired by the Bulls as a Senior Adviser. What that means or where he fits in the Bulls' hierarchy remains to be seen. At face value one must assume that adding someone of Collins' aptitude and experience can only help. But, I can't help but wonder what will happen when him and Gar Forman have there first disagreement. Who will Paxson side with and what will the aftershock be are questions that remind me of the palace intrigue in the white house these days.
2. Will this be the year Christiano Felicio emerges?
The 25 year old PF/C has an obvious skill set. His mix of size, athleticism, and offensive touch in the paint reminds me of Eddy Curry. But much like Curry his skill set haven't translated to production on the court. He averaged a modest 15.8 minutes, 4.8 points, and 4.7 rebounds last year while struggling with conditioning, and trying to wrestle playing time from a more veteran front court in a futile playoff run (thanks Gar). In early July he signed a team friendly 4 year 32 million dollar contract extension so he will not be changing teams anytime soon, but at his age this is a virtual make or break year, deciding whether he'll be a budding star or a career role player.
3. Is Kris Dunn the real deal?
There's no beating around the bush here. The 5th pick of the 2016 draft had an awful rookie year for the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, there is still reason to hope. First off, as all local fans know, Tom Thibodeau absolutely despises playing rookies, so Dunn was never given a fair chance. And secondly, Ricky Rubio had one of his healthiest, and most productive years playing with emerging stars Karl Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. I was impressed with Dunn's size and tenacity on both sides of the ball coming out of Providence, and I'm not ready to give up on him yet. Let's hope his severely dislocated left index finger doesn't derail his season.
4. Is Gar Forman really getting a new contract
As much as I'd like to call this fake news, I believe the writing is already on the wall. Jerry Reinsdorf is loyal to a fault. He obviously believes in John Paxson, after not canning him last off season. And Gar is Pax's boy despite his foolish personnel decisions and overall incompetency. Forman has initiated a rebuild (finally) and it's likely he will be around to see it through. He did swap Jimmy Butler for 3 young top 10 picks in Dunn, Lavine, and Lauri Markkanen and I can't ever remember a trade where anybody has brought that size of a haul back in terms of young, controllable talent. If he wins the Michael Porter Jr sweepstakes in next years' draft, Gar will be able to write his own ticket in Chicago. But regardless, it seems for now that the bromance that is GarPax will continue on.
5.Is this the year attendance finally drops?
The last time the Bulls did NOT lead the Association in attendance was 2009. They finished 2nd to the Pistons, and they haven't finished outside the top 5 since 2002. Though wins will be scarce, Benny the Bull and crew know how to have a good time, and fans will be clambering to see progress from our core of young players. My guess is tickets will be cheaper than years past, but come the end of October the United Center will still be rockin' just like it always has.
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