For most of the Bulls' offseason, the conversation has rightfully revolved around the newly formed backcourt. But there's another trio beyond the Three Alphas who have their own questions heading into next season.
It's the trio of players whose ages are 21, 24, and 26. In Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio and Nikola Mirotic, Chicago has three frontcourt options with what appears to be promising futures in what could very well end up being one of the lone bright spots next season. While the future for these three may give reasons to be optimistic, whether or not they can take the next step this upcoming season could ultimately decide the Bulls' fate as much as their more veteran backcourt.
In order for that to happen, each has to take the next step in their respective careers.
The biggest issue for Portis during his rookie season was common : the speed of the game. Far too many times, Portis rushed himself offensively into a poor shot or turnover (mostly looking for his own shot), while also being behind in his rotations defensively. Even though we did see glimpses of this potential, more so offensively, more times than not it was overshadowed by his rookie struggles.
But entering his sophomore season, Portis needs to take that next step in his development as a player, especially if he hopes to have a more consistent role. He's going to need to adjust to the speed of the game, become more patient offensively and a step ahead defensively. And if he can continue to improve and show some consistency in his three point shot, it'll only improve his chances of a sustained role.
Let's be honest, Felicio is still sort of a legend more than a proven player. Towards the end of this past season, and during July's summer league, Felicio showed he could do some things on both ends, albeit in limited action. Going into his second season with the Bulls, the coaching staff and fans alike are high on the Brazilian big man nonetheless, and what he could bring with more time on the floor.
And therein lies the question. While he has shown us he has the talent in limited time with the team, next season when those minutes inevitably increase and he has a featured part in the rotation, can he sustain his level of play over a full season?
Consistency. If there's one thing that Niko needs to become going into his third season, it's that he needs to be consistent on a nightly basis. Over his first two seasons in the league, it was anyone's guess as to which version of Niko we would be getting that night. There were flashes of a more consistent player at the end of last season, after missing all that time after his botched appendectomy. In 22 games, he played extremely well for an otherwise fumbling team, averaging 14.1 PPG on 44.5% shooting from three on just over six attempts per game. As a team desperately in need of shooting, Niko is going to need that consistency to carry over into the upcoming season.
Minutes in the frontcourt aren't going to be easy to come by, between these three along with veterans Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez. However, if Portis, Felicio and Niko can make strides and take the needed step forward in their development as players, the potential is there that they could complete a surprisingly productive, and exciting frontcourt rotation.