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Closing Five: Giannis breaks up the August doldrums

Will Gottlieb Avatar
August 19, 2022

We’re in the dead of the offseason and there’s not a whole lot to discuss. But a few things come out related to the Chicago Bulls every week, so I’m going to start putting together a short round up to make sure you have all the info you need from the week:

1. Giannis to Bulls confirmed

He had to do it, didn’t he?

Let me preface this by saying I believe there’s less than a one-percent chance of Giannis Antetokounmpo ever joining the Bulls.

But the fact that he said it has my August brain spiraling.

Part of me feels like he’s continuing his troll job of the Bulls by dangling the carrot in front of fans faces. Beating down on them in the playoffs wasn’t enough — he’s waging emotional warfare now too.

Jason Patt pointed ou this nugget from Mirin Fader’s biography on Giannis that connect even more dots…

There’s also an amusing anecdote in Mirin Fader’s Giannis biography, Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP, that features a young Antetokounmpo in Greece watching NBA highlights, pointing to a Chicago Bulls uniform and saying, “One day, I’m going to be wearing one of those jerseys in the NBA.”

So…maybe? No. Still no. But its fun to dream.

2. Schedule drop

The NBA finally released the schedule calendar for every team and what a moment it was on Twitter. It’s much ado about nothing, really. But again, August brain.

TL;DR is that the season opens in Miami on October 19. The Bulls first home game is October 22 against Cleveland. The front and back end of the schedule is extremely tough, with a lull in the middle.

The Bulls did get screwed a bit on rest and travel, which I wrote about in greater detail here. But for the most part, it all comes out in the wash. Every team plays every other team.

3. Fringe Roster News

The Bulls announced Tuesday that Justin Lewis has indeed torn his right ACL. He’ll undergo surgery and likely miss the entirety of the 2022-23 NBA season. What a shame for him.

I wrote about the upside I see in him during Summer League. He also told a great story about going undrafted.

The Bulls also announce they have added Carlik Jones to a training camp deal. Jones, a 6’1″ guard, went undrafted in 2021. He spent last season dominating the G League with the Texas Legends, where he averaged 21.1 points, 8.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game shooting 46.3 percent from the field, 82 percent from the line and 31.6 percent on threes.

The Bulls picked him up for Summer League where he continued to put up big numbers: 11.6 points and 6.2 assists. Heading into his age 25 season, it’s unlikely Jones becomes a major minute rotation player, but he’s got fringe point guard potential that could benefit the Bulls if their health woes continue.

4. The anniversary of the new era

Look how far we’ve come:

I’m not going to get on my soapbox and make fun of Jim Boylen or trash him for his coaching track record. It was a wild and weird time in Bulls history, but it’s good perspective to see how much things have changed in just two short years.

Save for Coby White and Zach LaVine, the entire roster has been flipped over. The Bulls signed a marquee free agent and swung for the fences on multiple trades. They made the playoffs for the first time in five years. Pretty remarkable turnaround.

The new front office and staff deserve the good will they have build up with the fanbase. They have not been perfect, but it’s impossible to argue they aren’t heading the right direction.

Cheers to a new era.

5. Random stat of the week

In today’s podcast episode, Mark Karantzoulis and I discuss the impact Lonzo Ball had on the Bulls offense and defense. By saying “look what happened when Ball got injured,” are we oversimplifying and not accurately reflecting on the Bulls real problems?

While I think there’s something to it, and you should listen to the podcast to hear our full thoughts, you cannot understate just how good a defender Ball was this past year.

I really do think Ball is one of, if not the best defensive guard in the NBA. His versatility, switchability, help IQ, activity and ability to rotate are all elite. While I think the Bulls defense had holes that would have been magnified at some point, even if Ball had stayed healthy, you can’t deny how productive he is as an all-around defensive menace. Stats like this really put into perspective how good he is relative to the rest of the league.

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