Bulls at the break: Time for midterm grades

Zach LaVine has been the team’s star pupil and best player through the first half of the season, but that doesn’t mean his evolution is even close to being finished.

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Zach Lavine scored a top grade in the Sun-Times’ Bulls midseason report card.

Zach Lavine scored a top grade in the Sun-Times’ Bulls midseason report card.

Matt Slocum/AP

The next two steps in Bulls guard Zach LaVine’s evolution will be critical for him and for the entire organization.

First, he must show he’s a worthy max player. LaVine has gotten closer since the start of the season because of his willingness to be a two-way player, but he’s not there yet.

More important, he must prove to be a destination player. Superstars from around the league must look at his game and the makeup of the roster and say, “I need to be a part of that.’’

That’s when the Bulls can officially knock off the rebuild training wheels and let the rest of the Eastern Conference know they have some staying power as a threat.

There are many ifs and some serious obstacles for the first-time All-Star to navigate, but he seems to have a different drive this season. Pick a reason: the coach, the teammates, the front office, the system, the man himself or maybe all of the above.

So with the first half of the season officially over and the Chicago Sun-Times handing out midterm grades, LaVine, who was selected by Team Durant on Thursday with the 16th overall pick, is the obvious valedictorian at the break. Solid A.

Coby White — They tried to force the point-guard role down his throat, and it’s just not White. That doesn’t mean he’s not valuable. On a serious playoff roster, he’s better suited as a sixth man whose game is predicated on scoring. Grade: B-

Lauri Markkanen — The best ability to have is availability, and the 7-footer is failing in that department. When he has played, he has had some moments but not enough of them. Grade: C-

Wendell Carter Jr. — The big man’s worst enemy at times is that guy in the mirror. The raw potential is there, but this is also his third year, and the game doesn’t wait on baby steps. Grade: C

Patrick Williams — No Summer League, no rookie camp and a shortened training camp? And that’s already the product? Be excited, Bulls fans, because something special could be on the way. Grade: B+

Thad Young — His playmaking out of the paint has been spectacular at times, and it still doesn’t match his importance in the locker room. That’s how special the “old man’’ has been. Grade: A

Otto Porter Jr. — He has played 16 games this season, and he has never been right from a health standpoint since he was acquired. An Incomplete is the easy grade, but this is a big-boy business. Grade: F

Garrett Temple — He might not have had the on-court impact of Young, but, again, don’t discount what Temple has meant to many of these young players and their development. A steal of a free agent for the money. Grade: A-

Denzel Valentine — The combo guard/forward has his moments. Then he has his moments. He was definitely worth keeping on the roster this season but needs to find more consistency all around. Grade: C+

Tomas Satoransky — The black cat on the team with all the virus tracing and hits he has endured, but he still has been a solid contributor off a dangerous bench. The Bulls are better when Sato is up and running. Grade: B

Daniel Gafford — The second-year big man has gotten a wake-up call, with his flaws being exposed as the season progressed. There’s something there because of his athleticism and energy, but he has plenty to work on. Grade: C-

Ryan Arcidiacono — Considering what his role is and how he stays ready no matter when he’s asked to play? A solid B-. Then factor in the man-bun. Grade: B+

Luke Kornet — OK, big man, we finally see you. Now get that three-pointer more consistent. Grade: C

Chandler Hutchison — Obviously, some things are going on with the kid, and you feel for him. But (see Porter) this is a big-boy business. Grade: D-

Cristiano Felicio — The following grade stands for (Gar) Forman and the ridiculous contract the former GM gave Felicio. Grade: F

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