Media day is on Monday, so we should probably figure out who the heck is on the 2018-2019 iteration of the Chicago Bulls training-camp roster.
After over five grueling months of no Bulls basketball, the wait is at T-10 days before their preseason debut on September 30th. Without further ado, here is your 2018-2019 Chicago Bulls training-camp roster:
Guys we know:
Lauri Markkanen; center; 7-0; Finland
Zach LaVine; shooting guard; 6-foot-5-inches; UCLA:
LaVine has 78 million reasons to become a more efficient scorer and actually play defense next season.
Jabari Parker; power forward; 6-foot-8-inches; Duke:
Say what you want about the fit, but it’s a heck of a story being the second coming [third! you forget the Dwyane Wade era already -yfbb] of Chicago’s prodigal son.
Kris Dunn; point guard; 6-foot-4-inches; Providence:
In one of the best BaB articles of the offseason, Mark Karantzoulis detailed why Kris Dunn will be the most important player on the Bulls next season.
Robin Lopez; center; 7-0; Stanford:
Let’s take a moment to appreciate Robin Lopez. The dude has been in the association for 10 seasons. He’s entering the final year of his current contract and in his heart of hearts would probably like to have an opportunity to play a lot this season to maximize his earning potential for the next one. Yet, he’ll quietly accept losing playing time to young guys, and when he does get to play he’ll do everything in his power to make those same guys better even if it means sacrificing his own counting stats.
Bobby Portis; power forward; 6-foot-11-inches; Arkansas:
You are expecting a training camp joke, but I’m not going to give in.
Wendell Carter Jr., center; 6-foot-10-inches; Duke:
Carter can prove that Forman and Paxson have rediscovered their drafting touch.
Justin Holiday; shooting guard; 6-foot-6-inches; Washington:
Holiday is a quality rotational player in the NBA. But with all the young guys the Bulls need to find playing time for at shooting guard, how many minutes will he actually get to play?
Cameron Payne; point guard; 6-foot-3-inches; Murray State:
When I went to one of his rehab starts with the Windy City Bulls last season, Payne denied my interview request. I’m still a little salty about that (just kidding, jokes again).
However, Payne is better than people give him credit for and he made strides as a playmaker and a 3-point shooter last season.
Denzel Valentine; shooting guard; 6-foot-6-inches; Michigan State
May have the most to prove of any of his teammates after getting trashed in the Drew League at the end of July.
Chandler Hutchison; small forward; 6-foot-7-inches; Boise State:
The Scottie Pippen comparisons are premature. Don’t put that much pressure on the dude.
Cristiano Felicio; center; 6-foot-10-inches; Brazil:
The Ringer literally crowned Felicio as the most valuable tanker in the NBA last season. He can’t possibly be worse than that next year, right?
Omer Asik; center; 7-0; Turkey:
No shame if you forgot that the Turkish hammer was still on this team. The Bulls willingness to absorb his nasty contract landed them a first round pick that turned into Chandler Hutchison, so there’s that. They look to be keeping it for helping a possible midseason trade salary-match.
Guys fighting for a spot:
Antonio Blakeney; shooting guard; 6-foot-4-inches; LSU:
Shooters shoot and on a squad with a lot of shooters, this shooter will need to cool it with his shots. Last season with the Windy City Bulls, Blakeney led the G League in both points per game (32.0) and field goal attempts per game (24; second place was 18.3.)
Rawle Alkins; shooting guard; 6-foot-5-inches; Arizona:
Lauri Markkanen has a buddy.
He’s tough, he has a good NBA body, and he actually is a good defender which is something the Bulls could really use on the perimeter.
This feels like a solid guy to take a chance on with a two-way contract.
Ryan Arcidiacono; point guard; 6-foot-3-inches; Villanova:
He has some NBA-level point guard tools, but his lack of athleticism may put a firm cap on his staying power.
Antonius Cleveland; shooting guard; 6-foot-6-inches; SE Missouri State:
When I got to his name on the roster sheet, I had to do a double take because I completely forgot he was on the roster even though I profiled him at the end of July (it’s been a long summer without basketball guys).
It’s difficult to envision a scenario where the 6-foot-6-inch guard from Southeast Missouri State makes the roster over the cluster of other Bulls shooting guards. However, Cleveland does have good size for his position, improved his 3-point shooting dramatically during college, and is athletic. Every year, surprise players go from training camp heroes to earning a spot on a regular season roster. Maybe it’s Cleveland’s turn to make that happen.
Kaiser Gates; forward; 6-foot-8-inches; Xavier:
After a decent showing in Las Vegas Summer League action, the Bulls rewarded Kaiser Gates with a training camp contract on Sept. 18. The Xavier product shocked many when he chose to forgo his senior year of college eligibility to become pro. However, he has good size (6-foot-8-inches; 225 pounds), and improved his 3-point shot each year of college up to 37.8 percent his senior year.
JaKarr Sampson; small forward; 6-foot-9-inches; St. John’s:
Let’s hope that LaVine has apologized to Sampson for this.
Sampson has four years of NBA experience under his belt. He’s an energy guy with good athleticism, and he does slot in at the small forward spot which is a position where the Bulls need some reinforcements.
Interesting to note that Sampson, Gates, and Blakeney all share the same agent.
Derrick Walton Jr.; point guard; 6-foot-1-inch; Michigan
The Chicago Bulls press release when Walton Jr. signed on with the team has a cool tidbit.
Walton is the only player in Wolverine history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 400 assists in his career.
In 27 games with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA G League last season, that versatile skillset from college was on full display. He averaged 16.1 points per game, 4.0 rebounds, and 7.1 assists all while shooting a solid 37.7 percent from behind the 3-point line.
The Bulls point guard depth behind Dunn is Payne and Arcidiacono. Walton Jr. has a chance to make this roster.