BullsOn3
The Bulls prepare to take on the Pelicans in preseason action. Photo from Chicagobulls.com

We’ve reached that time of the year folks! It’s time for 10…

BOLD PREDICTIONS!

…for the 2019-20 NBA Season and the Bulls in particular.

I only have one prediction about the NBA in general, the rest of my predictions will focus on the Chicago Bulls.

Prediction #10 – The Los Angeles Clippers will win the 2020 NBA Championship, making Kawhi Leonard the first NBA Superstar to win three championships with three different teams (unless you consider Robert Horry and/or John Salley as superstars, in which case he would be the 2nd or 3rd to do it). The Clippers had a very strong team last season and the additions of Leonard and Paul George have only strengthened their rotations. Leonard was unstoppable in the playoffs and collected his second Finals MVP; I imagine a third will not be far behind.

Prediction #9 – Zach LaVine will win the 2020 All-Star Dunk Contest. With All-Star Weekend in Chicago this season, I see LaVine and several other Bulls participating heavily in the activities. Zach has played coy with the media this preseason, talking about seeing how his legs feel going into that weekend, but I’m pretty sure, when all is said and done, he walks away from All-Star weekend 2020 a 3 time Dunk Champion.

#8 – Let’s stick with Zach LaVine, he’s going to make the All-Star game. He had a strong argument last season to be an All-Star, and I think this is the year he solidifies his place among the elite players in the NBA. His offensive production in the preseason has been ridiculous. He’s averaging 23 points in 23 minutes, while shooting over 55% from the field and over 57% from 3 point range. Also, He has competed defensively, jumping passing lanes and stealing the ball, sticking with his defensive assignment around screens and off-ball, and generally showing quality effort on defense. I believe both his offensive production and his defensive effort are sustainable for the entire season, which leads me to…

Prediction #7 – Zach LaVine will garner serious MVP consideration. I am sold on LaVine’s ability to score from anywhere on the court. He might average 30+ points a night this season. The shots he has been knocking down have looked so natural and automatic, that it feels weird when he misses a shot. Zach Lavine is poised to have a spectacular season. I don’t know if it will be enough to win MVP, but he’ll be in the running.

#6 – Tomas Satoransky will lead the team in Win Share. Win Share is a fun little stat that combines a whole bunch of other stats and data into a number that supposedly tells you how many wins an individual player is responsible for. Last season, Ryan Arcidiacono led the Bulls in Win Share; according to the data he was responsible for 3.7 of the teams 22 wins. This season, I’m hoping for a lot more wins and I think the Bulls newest point guard, Satoransky, will be responsible for most of them. He has struggled at the beginning of some of these preseason games, turning the ball over and looking slightly uncomfortable playing with his new teammates, but as the games progress Sato’s basketball IQ takes over and the offense hums. His ability to space the offense, make the extra pass, and play competent defense has proven contagious, everyone on the floor seems to play better basketball when Sato is in the game. He’s going to be the unsung reason the Bulls have success this season.

 

 

#5 – Daniel Gafford will break a basket with his vicious dunks this year. Gafford has displayed boundless energy on the court this preseason and it has manifested itself in some truly rim quaking dunks. He attacks the rim with extreme prejudice. It’s as if somewhere in Gafford’s past a rim created deep traumatic scars due to abuse and neglect, so now, as a fully realized NBA player, he exacts a brutal and depraved revenge on any rim that stands in his way. Gafford’s breaking a rim, count on it.

 

 

 

#4The Bulls will set franchise records for 3 pointers attempted and made. The 2017-18 Bulls hold the current single season franchise record for attempted and made 3 pointers (2549 attempts with 906 makes). The 2019-20 Bulls should blow those records out of the water. Already in the preseason the Bulls are among the top 5 teams in 3 pointers attempted, and I believe it’s part of the teams overall strategy on offense to aggressively shoot more 3’s. The Bulls have several lineups worth of shooters on this team, so 3 point attempts and makes should go up in general, but with the offensive strategy revolving around those shooters, both of those stats should increase exponentially.

Prediction #3 – The Bulls will set a franchise record for assists in a season. This will be a difficult feat to accomplish. The current record holders are the 1991-92 Bulls, who had 2279 assists on the season, which translates to about 27.8 per game. During this preseason, the Bulls are only averaging a little over 25 assists per game, but the flow of the offense and the unselfish ball movement, along with the increased familiarity of players as the season progresses, lead me to believe that that number will climb. The ball movement we’ve seen from the starters and 2nd stringers this preseason has been mesmerizing. I can’t tell you the number of times I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement as the ball gets passed around the court until it finds a wide open shooter. It’s been some of the most beautiful ball movement in recent Bulls history; it reminded me of the 2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, the team that beat the “Hollywood as Hell” Miami Heat by averaging over 25 assists per game in the Finals. If the Bulls can keep that level of ball movement throughout the season, it could be a very good year.

 

#2 The Bulls will win 47 games this season, easily make the playoffs, and capture the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. This is the boldest prediction I’ve ever made, but it’s not even the boldest prediction on this list. I expect the Bulls to improve their win total from last season by 25. That is a nearly impossible task. While it is true that many teams make big leaps season-to-season, that usually denotes a 14 to 15 win increase. A 25 win increase rarely happens in the NBA without the addition of a bonafide superstar to the roster. I don’t believe the Bulls have added that superstar, but I do believe that they’ve surrounded their budding superstar, Zach LaVine, with veteran players that will help him reach the next level. This is THE season for LaVine. The stars have aligned. All signs point to ‘yes.’ He has to make this leap. And when he does, he’ll drag the Bulls to the playoffs, the 6th seed, and beyond…

Prediction #1 – The Chicago Bulls will win a playoff series. Not only do I have the confidence in this team to make the playoffs, I also believe they can upset one of the rising powers in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s Boston, Philly, or Brooklyn, this Bulls squad will find a way to get it done. I believe in Zach LaVine’s hunger. I believe in Otto Porter’s quiet confidence. I believe in Tomas Satoransky’s unselfish play. I believe in Wendell Carter’s chip on his shoulder. I believe in Lauri Markkanen’s smirk as he drains a dagger 3. I believe in the vocal leadership of Thaddeus Young. I believe Luke Kornet is a true “3-and-D” unicorn. I believe in the boundless energy and youthful exuberance of Coby White and Daniel Gafford. I believe in the selfless sacrifice of Ryan Arcidiacono. I believe Coach Jim Boylen can take us to the mountain top. I believe in the 2019-20 Chicago Bulls!

I hope you do too. Until next time true believer, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!