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Bulls vs. Raptors lineups, game preview: what are we even watching for?

how do we judge success in a post-wins era of basketball?

Toronto Raptors v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

We’re gonna do BaB game previews from the community again this season. I hope that while there isn’t much enthusiasm for this Bulls season maybe there is for writing about the teams actually participating in the NBA and maybe some jokes at the Bulls expense?

As for the mechanics of this game preview: it starts at 6:30 on NBCSports Chicago (that’s the new Comcast Sports Net Chicago, in case you missed that branding change) and is in Toronto against the Raptors.

The Bulls will have only 12 usable players tonight, of which ‘usable’ has a fluid definition

The Raptors are pretty much the same as they’ve been the past couple seasons, pretty good except somehow crapping themselves every time they play the Bulls. That was mostly due to Jimmy Butler, not this remaining lot, so I don’t expect the Bulls to be much closer than a 20 point deficit. Then again, the high variance of heave-ball Hoiball, with the Raptors relative lack of three-point shooting, could make for a fluke of a close game.

But we’ve all been told by John Paxson, both at media day and as recently as this morning, that he’s not judging this team by wins and losses.

So what are we to do? Best I can tell, Paxson is looking at:

  1. playing hard, playing the right way
  2. staying positive? like...something culture blah blah blah
  3. player development

Notice that there’s very little in terms of objectively being good at basketball. At best it’s mentioned that they look for these guys to be incrementally be less bad.

Playing hard is overrated. That’s why Bobby Portis got leapfrogged by Nikola Mirotic even though Portis slept on cot at the training facility all summer. And Bobby responded by breaking Mirotic’s face. So maybe that vaunted culture starts...now.

Maybe hope that players individually do well? I’d say focus on the ‘important’ ones, but really nobody is that important yet, and any of these guys can be made useful whenever the Bulls want to try to be good again. I figure Lauri Markkenen is just as likely to be on that path as David Nwaba. Veterans like Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday will most likely be long gone, but if they play well it will add to their trade value.

The Bulls put us in this no-win situation where even a victory would feel like a loss as it impacts their best chance at a superstar coming here (the draft lottery). But they’ve done a heck of a job making that extremely unlikely, through poor roster construction and a useless coaching staff: they’re going to be quite bad. Try to find things that make you have fun while watching it, I guess.