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Right or wrong, the question fans want an answer to is who the Chicago Bulls will start at point guard while Lonzo Ball is out.
To be clear, I don’t think the starting point guard really matters. The closing unit is much more important and that lineup is already established. With that said, Billy Donovan will use the preseason to tinker and experiment with different combinations to find what works throughout the course of the game.
I’ve done pros, cons, my power rankings and confidence gif for each option: Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White and Goran Dragic.
1. Alex Caruso
- 18 starts in 2022
- OEPM: -1.9 (37th percentile), DEPM: 2.1 (94th percentile), EPM: 0.3 (71st percentile)
- Last year with DeRozan, LaVine, Vucevic trio: +3.7 in 559 total possessions
Caruso is the best player of the group and the best option to close games, as evidenced by the fact that he started each playoff game he played. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he will start games in the regular season.
Caruso is the best defensive player on the team and would be the only option that would truly help balance the Bulls on both sides of the floor. He’s also a capable shooter and ball mover which helps the randomness the Bulls are after.
The only real con to starting Caruso is his durability. He played only 41 games last year after upping his minutes to 28 per game. Even when he was in the high teens in minutes, he was still only a high 50s, low 60s games played guy. Caruso plays aggressively and recklessly at times and the Bulls cannot afford to lose him. So being more conservative with his workload and minutes might help him get through a full season.
Power Rank: 1st best option
I have flipped-flopped on this too many times to count. On the one hand, Occam’s Razor: just play your best player.
2. Ayo Dosunmu
- 40 starts in 2022
- OEPM: -1.9 (38th percentile), DEPM: -1.5 (20th percentile), EPM: -3.3 (26th percentile)
- Last year with DeRozan, LaVine, Vucevic trio: -8.3 in 1019 possessions
Dosunmu is probably the most well-rounded player the Bulls have at point guard, this side of Ball. He’s a solid point-of-attack defender and a semi-reliable three-point shooter (albeit on low volume).
Dosunmu has also expressed he has been working on his speed and endurance to be able to get out in transition more, which could benefit the Bulls in their search for easier baskets.
The advanced stats really do not like Dosunmu. The Bulls were much better with him off the court (11 points per 100 possessions), but I’m not sure how much of that can be attributed to him vs. the rest of the context around him as the team imploded during the second half of the season.
Power Rank: 2nd best optionHe’s well rounded, durable and has the most scope to improve. He could easily grow into the best option, which might be best for the Bulls long term.
3. Coby White
- 17 starts in 2021-22
- OEPM: +0.5 (77th percentile), DEPM: -2.2 (6th percentile), EPM: -1.7 (47th percentile)
- Last year with DeRozan, LaVine, Vucevic trio: 6.0 in 596 possessions
No one has talked about White as an option, but he quietly was part of the best pairing with the Bulls’ big three. His shooting would give the Bulls a massive boost in offensive potency and spacing around DeRozan. His movement shooting ability meshes well with the Bulls desires to play with more motion and randomness in the half court.
Though he’s not the traditional point guard they may seek, White still brings some offensive creation as a tertiary option, and could thrive attacking closeouts or shooting off the catch with DeRozan and LaVine drawing most of the attention.
The Bulls defense will be pretty bad regardless, but lineups with White, Vucevic, DeRozan and LaVine will get eaten alive. Unless the Bulls think they can win games in a shootout, it’s hard to justify the lack of balance with that kind of group. It’s also unfair to ask Patrick Williams to guard everyone by himself.
Power Rank: 3rd best option
Out of nowhere, I have talked myself into White. He brings a combination of transition speed, shooting and shot creation that no other option does. If he has made any defensive improvements
Hot take, but I kinda like it.
4. Goran Dragic
• 8 starts in 2021-22
• OEPM: -2.2 (33rd percentile), DEPM: 1.8 (91st percentile), EPM: -0.3 (64th percentile)
• Last year with starters: N/A
Apparently, Dragic is an elite defender based on this metric? He only played 498 minutes last year and though he has been a part of good defenses, I’m not sure he’s ever been the reason why.
The two biggest reasons to start Dragic are his pointguardsmanship and transition play. He has the best understanding of running and offense and is the most willing to get going in transition. He’s a capable shooter at 36.2 percent for his career, but at his best he is attacking space and creating advantage plays at a more reliable level than White, Dosunmu or Caruso.
I just can’t buy into the defensive numbers. And with such a small sample of minutes played, I don’t think I have to. Yes, Dragic looked good in Eurobasket. He has the most experience too. But I don’t think he’s good enough at any one thing to justify putting him in that lineup, when his skillset is much better utilized next to younger players who need help getting to their spots.
Power Rank: 4th best option
In retrospect, the Dragic signing makes more sense considering where things ultimately went with Ball. But starting him might be the worst possible outcome. There’s not enough hope that the offense would be able to compensate for how bad the defense projects to be.
Dragic is going to play a role, but it probably works best in a lineup with fewer primary ball handlers and without DeRozan and Vucevic slowing down the pace.
Instead, Dragic should spark bench units with Javonte Green, Coby White and Patrick Williams flying out in transition. He’ll be able to organize and create a more reliable source of offense than letting those younger players try to create for themselves.
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