Welcome to the first edition of SAW RED, a new weekly Bulls blog. The title is a nod to Sublime's "Saw Red" and #SeeRed, a long-standing Bulls tagline. I'm fully bought in to the Bulls this year and doing a weekly recap on the team and projecting the future will only make me a more dedicated fan. This is going to be a fun year; check back every Monday.
Bulls at Charlotte Hornets, 126-125 (L)
Bulls at Memphis Grizzlies, 110-102 (W)
Toronto Raptors at Bulls, 108-84 (L)
Chicago Bulls basketball is finally back. After back-to-back lottery appearances, the team has retooled and feels ready to make a run at one of the final seeds in the Eastern Conference. The addition of Coby White with the seventh-overall pick in this summer's draft and underrated signings of Thad Young and Tomas Satoransky to run alongside Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Kris Dunn have laid the groundwork for a young team that is ready to compete.
Opening week was definitely up-and-down, but there were a lot of positive takeaways and it's pretty clear what needs to be improved. Chicago has the second-youngest roster in the league, there are going to be a decent amount of growing pains. We've still got 79 games to figure everything out, and when that happens, the Bulls are going to be a pain to play.
Coby White begins his Rookie of the Year campaign
Coby White isn't scared of the bright lights. His heroics against Memphis helped the Bulls earn their first win of the season and even though he's coming off the bench, Coby is great for late-game scoring.
To start the year, Coby is averaging 16.7 points on 44.2% shooting (31.3% from deep) in 27 minutes a night. He's attacking the basket with confidence and pulling up with no hesitation. His shot selection could be a bit better at times, but he's 19-years-old and still figuring out how to play in the NBA. Once everything clicks, Coby can easily be the second or third scoring option; he's seriously looking that good.
For now, Tomas Satoransky makes the most sense as starting point guard but Coby can fill in for lineup experimentation or injury replacement. Sato is 6'7", so his length compliments the rest of the fairly long starters well. Coby and Kris Dunn have been an awesome one-two punch off the bench, I want to see that keep going a little longer.
With Zion Williamson out for for at least another month, Coby has plenty of time to establish himself as one of the best rookies in the league and if he can keep up the hot hand, hopefully he'll earn some hardware to show for it.
The core is getting to run together
Here's who I would include as the core of the Bulls looking into the future: LaVine, Markkanen, Carter Jr., White, and Dunn. I know it's a bit unpopular, but I'm still high on Kris Dunn. He knows what's at stake and has shown to be perfect next to Coby leading the bench. Dunn's defensive intensity (2.7 steals per game, so far) is incredibly valuable and he can get a bucket when needed. This is his fourth season; if things aren't looking much better, ok, move on. He went fifth overall for a reason, let's not give up just yet.
There have been times where the above list of players has gotten time together and it's awesome. It's a smaller lineup, but they can push the pace and score the ball. Give them more time to play together and if Wendell can hold it down on D with Dunn, this lineup will cause problems.
Offense and defense both off to a middling start
The picture really has nothing to do with the above statement; I just thought it looked cool. While the Bulls certainly look better than they have in two-plus years, they're doing just fine by league standards. Personally, I love analytics and all the random numbers that have risen in popularity over the last few years, but I know they aren't everything. The eye test is still massively important.
Chicago currently ranks 20th in the league in scoring (106.3 PPG) and aren't that efficient in doing so (40% team FG). On the other side of the court, they're allowing 112 points a night, good for 16th in the NBA. Opponents aren't doing much better at putting the ball in, in fact, they're the same (40.7%). All three games have had truly sloppy sequences, but when the offense is clicking, it gives a nice glimpse of what's to come.
The defense has, at times, looked weak. Wendell is supposed to be the anchor and while he's done fine so far, he's still looking for his footing after missing the latter-half of his rookie season due to injury. Head coach Jim Boylen is an intense dude, and while he's not the defensive guru that Thibs was, he still expects a lot out of the guys on defense. Zach LaVine said a few weeks ago that he's tired of being criticized for his defense, so he should be stepping up. At least we have Kris Dunn consistently locking it down.
Lauri starts hot, Finnishes ice cold
If you just look at the cover of the video you know that Lauri absolutely snapped in the opening game. The Bulls ultimately went on to lose by one point to a Hornets team that was insanely hot from deep, but there wasn't a better way for Lauri to start the year.
Before a medical scare ended his already-short season, Lauri was finding his footing. He was dropping buckets and became a walking double-double. After going dumb against Charlotte, he followed with two tough games.
This shouldn't be too worrisome, there have only been three games. Bad stretches happen, especially for young players. I may be biased as all hell, but I'm not going to protect anybody. He played bad, but he's going to be an All-Star. Tomas Satoransky, one of the most underrated signings of this summer, has also gotten off to a poor start, but like Lauri, I expect him to figure it out.
THIS WEEK (October 28-November 3)
10/28 @ New York Knicks (0-3)
This should be fun. The Knicks may be winless but they aren't a bad team. Julius Randle is a hooper, plus we get to see Coby go up against RJ Barrett.
10/30 @ Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1)
Hopefully a win. This probably isn't on TNT for a reason.
11/1 vs Detroit Pistons (1-2)
Nothing better than seeing D-Rose (25.3 PPG) play at the UC again. Kris Dunn is going to have his hands full trying to contain him.
11/3 @ Indiana Pacers (0-2)
Third divisional game in a row. It's been awhile since an Eastern Conference Central Division champions banner has been hung up, let's get a nice lead to start the year. I can hope. Wendell and Myles Turner should have a nice duel down low.