Every year, ESPN’s NBA guru Zach Lowe comes out with his 30 crazy predictions for the upcoming NBA season. Some of Lowe’s predictions can range from just the league in general to award races, teams, rotational battles or trades. For this coming year, the 30th and final prediction from Lowe was about the Chicago Bulls.
Particularly, Lowe’s prediction was about the Bulls (now) vacant starting power forward position. While many have assumed for some time now that that starting spot would go to Nikola Mirotic due to his shooting and lack thereof in the starting unit, it hasn’t necessarily been the case in the early goings. So far, Niko, Taj Gibson (who may be the front runner right now) and Bobby Portis have all taken turns starting at power forward during the preseason.
Out of those three aforementioned players, Lowe predicts that the latter of the three may end getting a shot at some point at the starting power forward spot. As Lowe explains:
It’s a two-man race between Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson for Chicago’s starting power forward spot, and if Gibson wins, Chicago will zoom to the forefront of NBA innovation by rolling out zero (well, maybe 0.5) 3-point shooters. Go Bulls! (By the way, the Bulls would be 20 percent more fun if they started Doug McDermott, and slid Dwyane Wade to the bench as the Eastern conference Manu Ginobili. They’ll effectively do that by staggering minutes between Wade, Butler and Rajon Rondo — please, let’s scrap the awful Three Alphas name — and they don’t have the political capital to bring a big name off the bench.) Portis is behind both guys, and he’ll have to fight Cristiano Felicio for backup minutes. Portis was kind of a trainwreck as a rookie; he jacked up jumpers without even looking for teammates, like he was playing Pop-A-Shot, and just sort of ran around in random directions waving his arms on defense. But most rookies struggle, and the Bulls are hopeful Portis weaponized his jumper over the summer. Hoiberg may give him a look — even just a brief one — in the starting five.
First off, I am a little upset that Lowe doesn’t like the Three Alphas signature, really thought it had a nice ring to it to be honest. I digress. One interesting point that Lowe states that has been noticeable throughout preseason thus far has been Fred Hoiberg staggering Dwyane Wade, effectively having him lead the second unit. While it’s doubtful Wade will ever be open to beginning the game on the bench, as Lowe stated, they’ll pretty much do that by continuing to stagger his minutes.
As for Portis, Lowe pointed out many of the things that he struggled with last year as a rookie, which most of us had also pointed out somewhere along the way. But he showed a more consistent stroke from three during summer league, and while we haven’t seen that yet during preseason, if he can get that to translate it’ll surely benefit him. With Niko’s inconsistent ways, in addition to Gibson’s injury history, if Portis can start putting it together this year, there’s a shot that he could slide into that starting spot.