Lauri Markkanen doesn’t really talk much.
So, it wasn’t too surprising when his first media day press conference yesterday came across as uncomfortable and awkward. Except for this gem of a quote.
Lauri Markkanen went to The Bean in Chicago, but that's about it: "I'm not here for sight-seeing. I'm ready to get to work."— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) September 25, 2017
It might as well be the Chicago Bulls motto for the 2017-2018 season. A lot of work needs to be put in between now and when the Bulls are actually good again for this team to have any chance of seriously contending with this core group of players.
Yesterday marked the beginning of that journey. On Monday afternoon, the new core Bulls went through the formalities of another media day. Here are some of the highlights.
LaVine wants to return “as soon as possible.” Says he’s “very far along in the progress."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) September 25, 2017
However, the Bulls organization will err on the side of caution when it comes to the return of their new star. Nine months from when the injury occurred (Feb. 3) is the earliest he will return (early November). For now, all LaVine can do is get his body ready when the organization does clear him to play.
Every day I’m at the gym working so when I get back I can hit the floor running,” said LaVine. “I’m not going to have any constraints or anything like that. I talked to him (Rose). I caught him a couple times out in L.A. He asked me how I was doing, told me to keep my head up, said everything was going to be cool if I work hard.
“I have no fear of going through the lane or jumping or anything,” LaVine insisted. “I’m not going to change my game because I got hurt. I think I’m going to be better than I was before. I know I'm a big part of this team. I want to be here for a long period of time”- Zach LaVine
-Per NBA.com writer Sam Smith
Is Fred Hoiberg a jump shooter whisperer?
Kris Dunn says he didn't have confidence in his shooting as a rookie, but he's worked with Fred Hoiberg and has more confidence now.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) September 25, 2017
We will see....Dunn’s 43.2 percent true shooting percentage last season isn’t inspiring much confidence, but there’s nowhere he can go but up. Dunn hopes he can thrive in an offense that he says is much different than the one he played in during his time in Minnesota.
I can get downhill a little more. I think it’s a quicker pace,’’ Dunn said. “I think we get into our offense a little quicker. Minnesota is a little more iso because we had a lot of talented players, but once we all learn the chemistry, get the chemistry together, I think we could be OK. -Kris Dunn
Who are these guys?
The Athletic writer Jon Greenberg captured the essence of the 2017-2018 Chicago Bulls in several tweets.
Cam Payne just rolled in. pic.twitter.com/3zkrs0KMiP— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) September 25, 2017
Is this an NCAA tournament hero or some guy they found in the beer garden at Parlor? pic.twitter.com/dVmvsuntJJ— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) September 25, 2017
That is Ryan Arcidiacono, a former NCAA champion with Villanova who earned a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls this season.
They didn't even give this guy a name or number. pic.twitter.com/V0evalUuvs— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) September 25, 2017
Training camp invitee Jarrell Eddie. The Athletic writer Lauren Comitor did a nice feature on Eddie and fellow training camp invitee Jaylen Johnson that you should read here.
When you're not sure why you're here. pic.twitter.com/XEqlfi1kzb— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) September 25, 2017
Quincy Pondexter has an inspiring story that you should read about here.
Finally, Chicago Tribune writer David Haugh provided one last parting anecdote for just how far this team has to go on its journey back to relevance and then contention.
One day last week, as I walked toward the Advocate Center for the Doug Collins news conference, Lauri Markkanen stood alone along Wood Street waiting for an Uber. A white pickup truck pulled over in front of Markkanen, but it wasn't his driver. It was a Bulls fan — a very excited Bulls fan who enthusiastically approached the rookie forward.
"Could I take a picture with you?" the fan asked the 7-footer standing near the curb. "You're one of the guys I keep telling my friends about."
The 20-year-old first-round draft pick, who admits he hasn't been in Chicago long enough to see more than "The Bean," didn't realize he already had become a tourist attraction himself. But Markkanen ducked to fit his blonde mop inside the frame of the man's selfie.
"Sorry," the guy said to Markkanen. "What's your name again?"
A friendly Finn, Markkanen smiled at the question and obliged.
If casual fans begin to learn the names of some of these players, would that be a benchmark for a successful season?