Welcome to BlogABull.com for the beginning of our 18th season of Bulls basketball coverage.
The 2020-21 Bulls may not be any good at all, and that’s kind of depressing, but if you shut out those rational thoughts and instead bask in the warming glow of the opening of the season there is some basketball to look forward to.
And in the opener, part of a somewhat-easy stretch of what’s ultimately a very difficult first-half schedule , the Bulls have perhaps a winnable contest tonight: at home (does it matter with no fans?) versus the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks embarked on their rebuild somewhat around the same time the Bulls did, but look to be farther along. They were able to draft a superstar in Trae Young but had a truly miserable 2019-20 campaign. But were positioned to use this past offseason’s cap space to dramatically add to the talent base of the roster. A lot of what plagued the Hawks last year was simply having too many minutes taken by sub-replacement players like bad free agent signings (Jabari Parker) or expectedly-bad-but-still rookies (Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter). Coming in this season are some pretty good additions to support Young: Danillo Gallinari, Bogdon Bogdanovic, and Clint Capella (traded for last season but didn’t play), who are all in their primes and signed for multiple seasons.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, Capella looks to be out for the opener and that severely hampers their defense - a bottom-5 unit that looked to him for improvement. Also out for them include Kris Dunn and Rajon Rondo, a couple of overrated-by-Bulls-beat-writers All Stars that won’t get that revenge game action tonight. ALSO missing will be Tony Snell and rookie lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu.
For the Bulls, they’re relatively healthy! It looks like just Thaddeus Young will be out for this game, while Tomas Satoransky will be available but possibly limited given he missed the past 10 days of camp.
The Bulls have been coy today with announcing their starters, sure to be a devastating move of gamesmanship.
It’s looking downright likely that Patrick Williams will be starting alongside Coby White, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter. Fat Otto Porter (Otto Portly?) is the likely candidate for the bench, as a ‘stabilizing presence’ (...this is what I read, not sure how a complementary 3&D wing will run the offense but ok).
For the Hawks, here is the best guess:
Available roster for the Hawks tonight:— Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) December 23, 2020
Young, Goodwin (probable)
Bogdanovic, Huerter, Reddish, Hunter, Mays
Collins, Gallinari, Hill, Fernando, Knight
Lookin’ like a real shootout tonight, provided there isn’t too much rust still as both these teams were not invited to the bubble.
With the Hawks going offense-first (only?) with a Gallinari+Collins frontcourt, the Bulls have to brace themselves for a lot of outside shooting from bigs, something they really struggled with in the preseason. They also have no natural defender against Young which could be concerning, maybe just sit back and hope he shoots 2/11 from three.
But the Bulls should be able to score a ton as well, and there’s no natural defender on LaVine or White or anybody. We saw a bit more ball movement and WCJ-involvement in the offense this preseason, but we’ll see if it carries over into the regular season. Maybe against what should be a preseason-level defense posed by the Hawks, it will?
So...should be a Bulls win? The franchise hasn’t really told us whether they want to win and whether we should root for it, but looking at this with a level head it may be one of the more winnable games in the first twenty so if you are somewhat appalled by a terrible record tonight may have more urgency.
7pm Central, NBC Sports Chicago featuring no Neil Funk! Don’t have to mute any longer!