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The Chicago Bulls have been dubbed as the worst team in the NBA this season, as their roster has been gutted completely over the last two seasons. The Bulls said goodbye to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah two seasons ago. They then followed that up with the trading of Jimmy Butler, as well as allowing Taj Gibson to walk in free agency and buying out the contract of Dwyane Wade.
Safe to say the times are changing in the Windy City.
The Bulls only have three veterans of four or more years on the team, those being Robin Lopez, Quincy Pondexter, and Justin Holiday. Everyone else is still adjusting to the league, showing the amount of youth on this Chicago squad. So as expected, the Bulls are 0-3 and have more than a fair share of drama.
Just a week ago, Bobby Portis punched Nikola Mirotic in practice, breaking numerous facial bones in Mirotic’s face and leaving the Bulls without a starting power forward. The team has had to look to a different route this season, one that won’t suggest a lot of wins. Instead, it promotes growth for the future.
The main piece in the Butler-to-Minnesota trade was the Timberwolves’ seventh overall pick, which ultimately turned into Arizona stretch-four Lauri Markkanen. The 7-footer was heralded for his ability to shoot the lights out, though his rebounding wasn’t too shabby either. Nonetheless, the Bulls fans were not too pleased during the time of Markkanen’s drafting, feeling as if they gave their franchise player away for practically nothing.
Through three games, Markkanen has proved the masses wrong.
Not only has he scored 16.3 points per game for Chicago, he has also secured 9.3 rebounds per contest. Markkanen is getting roughly twelve shots a contest and is surely making the most of them, spreading out the floor with his perimeter shooting while also following up shots to create opportunities for his teammates.
After the Bulls fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, Markkanen earned the respect from LeBron James and Wade.
“The best thing about it is he’s getting an opportunity,” James told the media following Tuesday’s game. “So you can make mistakes and learn on the fly. He’s going to play a lot because he’s learning. He’s a good player.”
Wade added this on the Bulls’ rookie:
“You can see if a guy knows how to play basketball when you first see him, right away. In the preseason, we all said he can play. No matter his age he can play. He’s aggressive. He understands they need him to score.”
After drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki during the draft buildup, there was pressure from the get-go on Markkanen to be the next European great. Maybe he won’t be great. But hey, getting even close to Nowitzki’s status will be quite OK for the youngster.