The Chicago Bulls may be the hardest team to write about, especially when it comes to pressure on individual players. This team is built to tank, and tank hard before the new NBA draft lottery reforms are put into place.
However, the ‘young guns’ on this roster will be under immense pressure to perform this season, if they perform well, they could be seen as the future of the franchise, and earn new contracts. If they don’t, then their futures may lie on the bench or abroad.
When I say ‘young guns’ I mean 5 guys (a potential starting 5) in particular.
PG: Kris Dunn
SG: Zach Lavine
SF: Denzel Valentine
PF: Lauri Markkanen
C: Bobby Portis
These young stars could be the starting 5 for the Chicago Bulls, if (a big if) they can live up to the hype and potential that surrounded them on draft night.
So let’s give a short breakdown on the pressures facing each of these players this upcoming season.
The guard out of Providence is entering his second season in the league after a rather unsuccessful stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he averaged 3.8PPG and 2.4 APG in 17.1 minutes per game. Now he’s at the Bulls, Dunn is free and able to run with the ball and develop as a player. However, the pressure that comes with this is similar to any second year player. Will he improve? And if yes, then by how much?
If Dunn doesn’t make progress this season, he may be without an NBA team going into the 2019/20 NBA season.
The second part of the Minnesota trade (alongside Kris Dunn), Zach Lavine has started this season injured, so the pressure on him this season will be to stay healthy. Bulls fans are looking for any silver lining this season, and Lavine throwing down monster dunks could be the only thing that keeps fans coming back.
Valentine has similar pressure as Kris Dunn. It is expected that he will improve this season, and put up a better stat line than 5.1PPG/2.6RPG. The 14th pick of the 2016 draft showed flashes of the player he can be last season, with great performances against the Charlotte Hornets, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.
Will he improve? Only time will tell.
This rook will probably spend most of his time being compared to Kristap Porzingis, he’s a long and mobile forward who can shoot the ball well. The only real pressure on him is to adapt to the NBA. And based on early performances, this shouldn’t be too much of a struggle.
He punched a teammate in the face. That’s how Bobby Portis started his NBA season with the Chicago Bulls. And now, the second year forward will have to show considerable improvement over the 6.8PPG/4.6APG over last season, while simultaneously slotting into the starting line-up.
The biggest pressure on Portis is to beat the stat line that Nikola Mirotić posted last season (10.6PPG/5.5RPG on .413% in 24 minutes per game), which is something that could be done, and then lead him to be forgiven by the backroom staff of the Chicago Bulls organisation.
Everyone on this team is under pressure this season, if they don’t perform, they’re going to find themselves without a team to play for.