NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
With the NBA season just a few months away and the majority of player movement being done, I’m going to start previewing the teams. Based on my projected order of the standings, we’ll start at the bottom and work towards the top rotating between East and West. Past previews will be linked as well.
Wendell Carter Jr PF (draft), Chandler Hutchinson SF (draft), Jabari Parker PF (free agency)
Jerian Grant PG
Offensive Rating 101.3 (28th)
Defensive Rating 109.1 (28th)
Net Rating -7.8 (28th)
True Shooting Percentage 52.9% (29th)
Assist Percentage 60.7% (8th)
Rebound Percentage 49.4% (20th)
Turnover Percentage 13.8% (10th)
Pace 100.3 (10th)
The rebuild continues in Chicago but there might be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Laurie Markannen looked pretty impressive as a rookie, and Kris Dunn looked like a completely different player than he did in Minnesota. Add in Zach Lavine and Jabari Parker (I feel like last season is a throw away for both of them) coming back from ACL injuries, and Wendell Carter who looked very good in summer league, the Bulls might have something. I wouldn't be surprised to see them compete for the 8th seed this season.
Jabari Parker, Zach Lavine, and Lauri Markannen are good offensively players, but struggle defensively. The Bulls have to figure out how to use these guys and still be able to compete on the defensive end of the floor. Dunn is excellent defensively but needs help. Figuring out lineups that balance offense and defense is going to be a tough task for Fred Hoiberg and the coaching staff.
The Bulls look pretty thin on the wing, and will probably feature a rotation of Jabari Parker, Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine, and Chandler Hutchinson. Parker is more of a 4, Holiday is more of a 2, Valentine is limited offensively, and expecting Hutchinson to be a contributor might be too much to ask. Finding a versatile wing would go a long ways in making the Bulls competitive.
Build Around Lavine
The Bulls made a big financial commitment to Zach Lavine this summer and are banking on him returning to pre-injury form. Before tearing his acl in 2017 Lavine averaged 18.9 points per game shooting 45.9% from the field and 38.7% from three. He's a scorer, not a natural point guard and the Bulls need to play to his strengths.
Player to Watch: Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn had a wasted rookie season playing in Minnesota but showed some signs of life last year. He struggled offensively (which is to be expected) but showed some flashes defensively. Playing alongside Lavine, Markannen, and Parker, Dunn shouldn't have to focus too much on scoring, but needs to improve as a playmaker and become a lockdown defender.
PG: Kris Dunn
SG: Zach Lavine
SF: Jabari Parker
PF: Lauri Markannen
C: Robin Lopez
PG: Cameron Payne
SG: Justin Holiday
SF: Denzel Valentine
PF: Bobby Portis
C: Wendell Carter
Westgate Projected Win Total: 27.5
Projected Record: 29-52 (14th Eastern Conference)