The 2019 NBA preseason is officially underway, which means the team’s rosters should be set.
Of course, there can be trades and players on the end of the bench can be sent to an affiliate G-League squad. But for the most part, what you see now is what you’re going to get for at least the beginning of the season.
The Chicago Bulls have 16 players on their website’s roster, so they still have to cut a player to make the 15 player requirement for the season.
For a team like the Bulls, each player on the roster is important because that’s how it is in a rebuild.
Players sitting on the bench are trying to earn minutes, guys with a few minutes want to be role players, role players want to be starters, starters are trying to be stars and the bright stars want to be superstars.
With that said, here is a look at who the Bulls have on the roster and the importance they have on the team coming into the season.
Ryan Arcidiacono, Point Guard
At the end of last year, Arcidiacono was a spark for a team that didn’t have much illumination because of injuries and the type of record the Bulls had at that point. He took over for Kris Dunn down the stretch and did the best he could with limited options. He started in 32 of the 81 games he played in and all of his averages from the year before went up, including points (2 per game to 6.7) and assists (1.5 to 3.3)
However, things have changed on the depth chart as the undrafted player is the No. 4 point guard behind Coby White, Kris Dunn, and Tomas Satoransky. Unless he’s on the court in garbage minutes or the Bulls are hit with the injury bug hard again, Arcidiacono will ride the bench.
Wendall Carter Jr., Center
Carter Jr. has the talent to be a top big in the league with some experience and some health. But unfortunately, the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft can’t rack up minutes because he can’t stay healthy. He played 44 games in his rookie season.
In the offseason, he had an abdomen surgery and he tweaked his ankle in the Bulls very first practice.
He showed the sky is the limit when he is playing as he averaged 10.3 points, 7 rebounds and 1.8 assists a game. But until he can prove he can stay on the floor, he’s a starter with no momentum toward stardom.
Kris Dunn, Point Guard
Importance: Few minutes
Let’s face it, Dunn has been a disappointment since he was acquired in the trade which landed Zach LaVine from Minnesota. His offense is spotty and he has trouble leading a team in a fast break. His defense has saved him from being a total embarrassment, but it didn’t save him from the Bulls loading up the position with a No. 7 pick in the 2019 draft, White, and signing Satoransky.
Dunn will beat out Arcidiacono when it comes to who should get off the bench first, but if White and Satoransky are healthy, Dunn won’t earn many ticks.
Cristiano Felicio, Center
It is amazing to me Felicio is still on the Bulls roster. He’s 6-foot-10 and has never averaged more than 4.7 rebounds a game. He has had the opportunity to gain more playing time as he averaged 17.8 minutes a game for the 2017-18 season, but he showed his weaknesses – he’s slow and unmotivated.
The only way he gets on the court is if Carter Jr. can not stay healthy. Hopefully, rookie Daniel Gafford and Luke Kornet can step in and make his presence felt in a league that doesn’t have too many physically dominating low post players.
It’s a shame the Bulls couldn’t talk Robin Lopez into another year so Felicio wouldn’t even be an option.
Daniel Gafford, Center
Importance: Role player
I’m hoping the rookie — the Bull’s second-round pick — can live up to what he did at the University of Arkansas. He’s a limber 6-11 who can make plays around the basket offensively and defensively. Chicago fans would like to think he’ll be a backup role position, but Carter Jr. has to stay healthy for him to do that. If both stay healthy and play their games, the Bulls front line should be fun to watch on both sides of the court.
Shaquille Harrison, Point Guard
Harrison is only going to see the floor is if a plague wipes out the Bulls or in garbage time. If White, Satoransky, Dunn, and Arcidiacono stay healthy, there is no way Harrison gets off of the bench in normal minutes of a normal game. Even if one of the point guards or even two of them move to shooting guard to allocate some PG minutes, Harrison won’t see them.
Chandler Hutchinson, Small Forward
Importance: Few minutes/role player
Hutchinson is interesting when it comes to his importance. He is the backup small forward to Otto Porter, which could lead to different situations for the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2018 draft.
He has skill and could rise from a few minutes here and there just to give someone a breather or he could set himself up as a scoring leader on the second unit. Hutchinson will have to continue to play well and hope coach Jim Boylen doesn’t go for a big lineup where Thaddeus Young becomes Porter’s backup or go smaller where guys like LaVine or even Satoransky, who is 6-foot-7, moves to the three spot.
Luke Kornet, Center
With Carter Jr. and Gafford as better players at center and Lauri Markkanen and Thaddeus Young designed to take the power forward minutes, Kornet is not going to see many minutes.
He showed potential last year while he was with the Knicks, including a performance of 12 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks and four assists against the Bulls. When he comes in, he should use his time productively, but it doesn’t seem like there is going to be much room for him.
Zach LaVine, Shooting Guard
I think this is the year we finally find out if LaVine is a leading man and the star of one of the biggest markets in the NBA. Scoring wise, I think he has already proven he is. There are some things he has lacked such as being the guy to close a tight game or making consecutive shots or big plays to help the Bulls gain momentum when they’ve been flat to start a game.
However, he has all of the talent to be an NBA All-Star and lead the Bulls into the playoffs. I believe it is safe to say Chicago goes where LaVine goes.
Lauri Markkanen, Power Forward
In all honesty, I have not been a fan of Markkanen. I just didn’t see what the fuss was all about because he seemed slow, was a lackadaisical rebounder and missed some wide-open shots – 3-pointers and mid-range opportunities – an NBA player should be able to make. Until the end of last season.
There was a stretch at the end of the last campaign where Markkanen looked like a bonified star. I’m sure he has been working on keeping the same projection on the box score this year. It would be good to see Chicago have two All-Stars this season in LaVine and Markkanen.
Adam Mokoka, Shooting Guard
The 21-year old from France has not played a game in the NBA, but he did look solid in Summer League action. He never stops moving off the ball on offense or on defense, which was fun to watch.
However, with the players and the experience the Bulls already have on the roster, it will be very tough for Mokoka to make the 15-man roster let alone the court.
Ottis Porter, Small Forward
I have been a huge fan of Porter’s since his days with Georgetown University and when he joined John Wall and the Washington Wizards in 2013.
He is long, lengthy, can shoot, plays defense and will be one of a couple of guys who can be a veteran leader for a young Bulls squad. He might not be the most important in the stat book (probably second or third) but in terms of doing the little things on the court that helps teams win and being that great teammate in the locker room, Porter may be the most impactful.
Tomas Satoransky, Point Guard
The hype is surrounding White and what he could do at the point guard spot after being the seventh pick in this summer’s draft. However, in the Summer League, he didn’t show me that he should automatically be handed the reigns. Maybe, the Bulls should take the approach the NFL used to have with quarterbacks and let him sit back and learn behind someone else while he hones a professional game.
I think that is exactly what Chicago should do. Satoransky should begin the season as the starting point guard and White should get all the reps he can with the second unit or occasionally playing with the other starters as breaks overlap and so on.
The 27-year old, 6-7 point guard from the Czech Republic started 54 games for the Wizards last year after Wall was injured. In 27.1 minutes per game, Satoransky averaged 8.9 points, 3.7 assists, and 2.8 rebounds. He shot 79 percent from the free-throw line and 40 percent from 3.
Denzel Valentine, Shooting Guard
Importance: Role player
My love for Valentine has calmed down a little bit over the last few years. When he was drafted by the Bulls in 2016, I was excited the Bulls would have a shooter who was athletic and could do other things on the floor. In the last few years, injury has set in and I don’t expect anything more than a backup shooting guard who may or may not average 10 points a game.
Valentine didn’t play at all last season because of injury. In 2017-18 when he played in 77 games (started in 37) he averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 27.2 minutes a game. I don’t think he’ll see 27 minutes a game, but if he can return with production similar to this he’ll be a solid backup as a top scoring option on the second unit.
Coby White, Point Guard
Importance: Role player/starter
At the beginning of the year, I would like to see Satoransky be the starting point guard and show White the ropes of the NBA. When it looks like White has matured into his God-given basketball talent and athleticism, then hand over the starting job.
I am excited to see a backcourt with White, LaVine and Porter, but I want to see it when all cylinders are churning the way they should be and White isn’t going through rookie mistakes and turnovers because of difference defenses or the difference between NCAA and NBA strength and quickness.
But once all has settled, White is going to a beast and hopefully a Bull for a long time.
Thaddeus Young, Power Forward
Importance: I look at Young the same way I do Porter. Yes, their stats are going to be important and they will be looked at to grab a big rebound, make a defensive play at the end of a game to be the difference between a win and a loss and will need to knock down some crucial shots.
But, Young’s most important role will be to round up these young pups and show them how to play the game of basketball as a team. Young has been in the NBA for 12 seasons and was a key part to the Indiana Pacers being a top team in the Eastern Conference without All-Star Victor Oladipo.
If anyone can help a young squad mature, Young can.