Joe Cowley’s annual NBA preview: Bulls finally crash the postseason
Who will be the MVPs of both conferences? What about Rookie of the Year? Plus, East and West standings predictions.
Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas conducted the autopsy on the staff offices in Year 1 of his reign.
He found a lack of leadership, so the swamp was drained.
This past offseason, he turned the scalpel on the roster.
He found a lack of cohesiveness, so parts were removed and replaced.
In his no-nonsense style, Karnisovas not only wants a team that can end a four-year playoff drought this season, but a foundation that will last for years. He wants Chicago to be a destination for free agents and the Bulls to be a consistent contender.
Karnisovas says the momentum began at the trade deadline, when the Bulls showed how serious they were about adding big-name players by acquiring Nikola Vucevic from the Magic.
“I think that showed that winning is important,’’ Karnisovas said. “And I think the pitch this summer to free agents was we’re building something and we want to win. So I think that helped.
‘‘Having Zach [LaVine] and having ‘Vooch’ as two All-Stars already on the roster, I think that helped. And we were pleasantly surprised that a lot of guys wanted to play in Chicago.
“It obviously says a lot about building a new staff. It says a lot about players like Zach and ‘Vooch’ that players want to play with them.’’
But how much will it say in late April and May?
That’s what really matters. And anything short of that will be dealt with by Karnisovas. The scalpel is always ready.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Nets over Heat in six
ALL-EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM
G James Harden, Nets
G Jimmy Butler, Heat
F Kevin Durant, Nets
F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
C Joel Embiid, 76ers
ALL-EASTERN CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM
G Ben Simmons, 76ers
G Zach LaVine, BULLS
F Jayson Tatum, Celtics
F Bam Adebayo, Heat
C Nikola Vucevic, BULLS
EASTERN CONFERENCE HONORS
MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Most improved player: Lonzo Ball, BULLS
Rookie of the year: Jalen Suggs, Magic
Coach of the year: Erik Spoelstra, Heat
Coach on the hot seat: James Borrego, Hornets
Most underrated player: Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks
Most overrated player: Kyrie Irving, Nets
Big-name trade candidate: Ben Simmons, 76ers
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Lakers over Warriors in seven
Lakers over Nets in six
ALL-WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM
G Luka Doncic, Mavericks
G Steph Curry, Warriors
F LeBron James, Lakers
F Kawhi Leonard, Clippers
C Anthony Davis, Lakers
ALL-WESTERN CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM
G Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
G Klay Thompson, Warriors
F Zion Williamson, Pelicans
F Paul George, Clippers
C Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
WESTERN CONFERENCE HONORS
MVP: Luka Doncic, Mavericks
Most improved player: Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets
Rookie of the year: Jalen Green, Rockets
Coach of the year: Frank Vogel, Lakers
Coach on the hot seat: Luke Walton, Kings
Most underrated player: Kyle Anderson, Grizzlies
Most overrated player: Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves
Big-name trade candidate: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers