The 2018-19 campaign for the Chicago Bulls was expected to take the next step during year two of the rebuild. There were hiccups along the way, injuries and the firing of Coach Hoiberg, with few bright spots sprinkled in. The Bulls have one of the more promising young cores in the NBA and are trying to figure it all out while still developing individually and a team. They feel that they have their guy in Jim Boylen as rumors have leaked that the Bulls may give Boylen a contract extension. After finishing the season 22-60, the Bulls are in line to receive a top draft pick in the upcoming draft, adding to their young core. I’ll go over some of highs and lows of the Bulls season and give my thoughts on whats to coming moving forward.
Sept 28, 2018- Lauri Markkanen suffers an elbow injury
It was announced that Lauri Markkanen will be out for 6-8 weeks after injuring his elbow. This was a huge blow to start the season as the Bulls were without one of their best players to begin the season.
Denzel Valentine hurt his ankle in the Sept 28th practice and suffered many setbacks and ultimately missed the entire season. The Bulls depth would be tested early in the year missing two key pieces from their rotation.
Oct 23, 2018- Kris Dunn suffers a knee injury
Kris Dunn sprained his MCL in his left knee and would be forced to miss time. The Bulls young core seemed to never gel because they never played much together. The development has been stunted at times due to injuries. When they played together, they’ve looked about as good as many would imagine. Dunn’s development especially hasn’t been what he and others in the Bulls organization thought because of the time he’s missed.
Oct 24, 2018- Bulls win first game of the season
Bulls win their first game of the season against the Charlotte Hornets. After starting the season with more bad news than good, the Bulls were able to win their first game of the season in a tight game against a good Charlotte Hornets team that just missed making the playoffs.
Dec 1, 2018-The return
Lauri Markkanen returns for the Bulls against the Houston Rockets. Markkanen’s return helped provide the Bulls with another scoring threat to ease the load off of Zach LaVine who had got off to a hot start as the season began. Considerable rust was there for Markkanen as he didn’t shoot well, but having him out on the floor definitely provided the Bulls with a different element offensively.
Dec 3, 2018- Bulls fire Coach Hoiberg
In what was a surprising move, the Bulls fired then Head Coach, Fred Hoiberg. The timing was shocking due to the number of injuries the Bulls suffered early but John Paxson said, “energy and competitive spirit” ultimately led to the decision to make the change.
Dec. 8, 2018- Worse loss in franchise history
Bulls lose to the Boston Celtics, 133-77. It was the worst loss in franchise history! The nightmare season for the Bulls continued as they lost to the Celtics. Afterward, Coach Jim Boylen talked about how he had plans for a tough practice the next day which led to a mutiny with players opting to not practice as they were coming out of a back to back.
Dec. 14, 2018-Jabari Parker benched
One of the more surprising developments to happen this season was the benching of Jabari Parker. While Parker’s tenure with the Bulls was not what many expected, his play had been improving especially being thrust into a starting role with players going down due to injury. Chicago had signed Parker to a two year deal worth 40 million, with a team option for the second year. Seemed like a risky deal but the Bulls decided it was time to end the experiment, especially with a new Head Coach running the show.
Jan 4, 2019- Justin Holiday trade
Bulls trade Justin Holiday to the Memphis Grizzlies for Wayne Selden and Marshon Brooks. Wayne Selden became on of the bright spots for the Bulls. He kind of assumed the role David Nwaba had the season prior. Seldon’s offensive game is more advanced as he provided the Bulls with a nice 3-point threat off of the bench.
Feb 6 2019 Bulls trade for Otto Porter
Bulls trade Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker to Washington for Otto Porter Jr. With Portis becoming a free agent after this season and Jabari not fitting into the Bulls plans for the future, the deal made a lot of sense. They needed to bring in a veteran presence and Porter was a guy they were high on. He’s able to spread the floor with his shooting and is a solid defender.
Feb 23, 2019 Bulls win three in a row
Bulls beat the Boston Celtics capping off a three game win streak on the season, they’re longest during 2018-19. After being embarrassed by Boston earlier in the season, the Bulls made up for it by beating Boston 126-116. While the Celtics have had issues with consistency, the win was impressive none the less. This was a nice bounce back win against a team full of talented players.
Mar. 1, 2019-Quadruple overtime thriller against the Atlanta Hawks
In what was probably the craziest game of the season for the Bulls, they outlasted Trae Young and the Hawks 168-161 in quadruple overtime. Zach LaVine scored a career high 47 points and dueled with rookie sensation Trae Young all night as Young poured in 49 points of his own. Was a good tough win and one that I think showed the Bulls who were thought of to be a weak minded team, could pull out a gritty tough win on the road.
Mar. 6, 2019 Bulls spoil Jimmy Butler’s return..again
Bulls win again in Jimmy Butler’s return part Two. Jimmy and the Sixers were in town and the game was very intense and went down to the wire. Again we saw Butler and LaVine trade baskets as it literally came down to the last shot. In some late game controversy, the Bulls thought they had pulled out the win but a clock error gave Philadelphia another chance but the Bulls held on.
After this, many of the Bulls key pieces were shut down due to injuries and younger players from the G-League team were given much of the playing time as the season came to a close. There were a few bright spots with players like Walt Lemon Jr, Shaquille Harrison showing development and having big games for the Bulls. This has been a welcome sign for the Bulls as player development will be key going forward if they want to become competitive again. Even Ryan Aricidiacono’s emergence this season was a welcome sight!
I’m excited about the Bulls future going forward. This team has shown plenty of potential and they all bring something different to the table. Health will be key if they plan on being in contention for the playoffs next season as is the case with most teams. I say health because we have yet to see this team clicking at full strength. I may be optimistic, but this roster is full of talent. From LaVine, to Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., I love their core guys. It’ll be interesting to see who is held over from this current roster as some guys will be roster casualties going forward. I’ve become fans of Blakeney, Arcidiacono and Wayne Seldon and would love to see them with the Bulls as they are guys who provide spark off of the bench. Chemistry is another huge factor, all of the great teams have that. This Bulls team is hungry and if Boylen can get them playing as one, they could be what the Brooklyn Nets were this season!