Bulls’ sudden offensive improvement could kill the Zion Williamson dream
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Guard Zach LaVine likes where the Bulls’ offense is headed.
LaVine hasn’t always felt that way this season, but the Bulls’ acquisition of forward Otto Porter Jr. in a trade Wednesday with the Wizards has changed his outlook.
Porter is a shotmaker, especially from the outside, which means more space for LaVine to operate and more opportunity for him to use his slashing style to attack the rim. In their first two games with Porter, the Bulls have scored 125 points in each.
‘‘Offensively, I think we looked good at times,’’ LaVine said after the Bulls’ 134-125 loss Saturday to the Wizards. ‘‘Still getting to know each other. I don’t think scoring is going to be the issue. It’s chemistry; we are going to get that down. The game is a lot more open, I think we have a little more firepower and we have to just get it done.’’
But here is what Bulls fans might have to come to grips with: An improved offense will jeopardize the team’s draft-lottery position, which means the dream of selecting Zion Williamson might be dying a slow death.
The Bulls (13-43) have the fourth-worst record in the NBA, which would give them a 12.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick. With the new draft rules, the three teams with the worst records have a 14 percent chance.
Not a big deal? Wrong. Every percentage point matters. And sitting just outside the top three also means the Bulls can drop back as far as No. 8.
In a draft in which many experts see a significant drop in talent after Williamson, the Bulls’ offense suddenly flexing some ‘‘firepower’’ might not be a particularly positive development.
Another thing that should keep Bulls fans restless is the fact that general manager Gar Forman carries major weight in the scouting process. Yes, the Bulls have had some hits in the draft in the last decade (Jimmy Butler, Lauri Markkanen), but they also have had some serious misses in the draft and, most recently, in free agency (Jabari Parker, who was dealt to the Wizards for Porter).
Forman was asked whether the Bulls would re-evaluate their scouting process for the upcoming draft and free agency.
‘‘I like our process,’’ Forman said. ‘‘We’ve got a veteran staff, scouting staff. I like the processes that we go through.
‘‘I think when you look around the NBA and you evaluate drafts and guys that you pick up, you’re going to see that there’s hits and there’s misses. I’m going to defend our scouting staff here. If you really dig deep as far as how we’ve drafted, for instance, over the last 10 years — and the analytics will prove this — we have drafted very, very well.
‘‘So I like our staff, like our process. Obviously, scouting is going to be a huge, huge part of what we’re doing today and what we’re doing moving forward. Now we’re going to have a high pick again this year, and this draft is going to be critical to us.’’