• After an optimistic off-season, the Bulls looked to build upon another 50-win season with title aspirations in mind. Jimmy Butler was coming off of an all-NBA season, Derrick Rose was healthy and Pau Gasol showed that he is far from finished. However, the 2015/2016 Bulls were one of the most disappointing teams in the league and we at hoop-ball have you covered.

    Overview

    To say this season was a disaster is an understatement for the Bulls. This was looked at as the season they would finally get over the hump and beat the Cavs. They entered the season as a contender in the weak Eastern conference with essentially the same roster as last season, only this time they added a healthy Derrick Rose, talented rookie Bobby Portis, and new coach Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg was supposed to be the missing piece to the puzzle, orchestrating a beautiful NBA-ready pace and space with Iowa State, combining his offensive knowledge with a ready-made top-10 defensive unit. Everything looked great for the Bulls until the season began.

    There was a theory that Thibodeau ran his players into the ground causing a lot of players to miss time and not heal properly (like Derrick Rose playing through a torn ACL in the playoffs), and the only player to play 80 games this year was Doug McDermott. Fred Hoiberg scaled back minutes and opened up the rotation, but it was still not enough to prevent injuries as Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose each missed over 10 games. The production was there from their three best players, although Nikola Mirotic never took the next step many predicted and the bench was just 19th in the NBA in scoring. The Bulls just never looked fully in rhythm and it is fair to wonder if this roster needs a major shake-up to compete once again.

    The roster is built to win now and missing the playoffs with 42 wins is just not acceptable for a team with the Bulls’ aspirations. Gar Forman has some big decisions on his hands this summer with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah hitting free agency and rumors of Jimmy Butler’s unhappiness with coaching and management. It is never a good scenario when your two best players are in turmoil, but the bulls have built a competitive team for many years and it would not be shocking to see a quick turnaround.

     

    Coaching

    After going a combined 255-139 under defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls decided the team had peaked and wanted to go in a different direction. Offensive-minded Fred Hoiberg was hired and proceeded to go 42-40 as the Bulls missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Hoiberg was brought into Chicago to spark the offense after leading the Iowa State Cyclones to back-to-back tournament berths. This move yielded unexpected results, as the Bulls dropped from 10th to 25th in the league in offensive efficiency despite moving from 20th to 13th in pace. Although the results were not what fans and fantasy owners expected, there is still reason for optimism in Chicago.

    The pace is definitely higher and the players are moving around and passing the ball more. The average possession is 0.9 seconds shorter than it was last year, they are averaging .15 seconds less per touch and the players are running .03 miles farther per possession. The spacing, movement and passing has all improved despite the drop in production however the Bulls are also one of the worst teams at generating open looks and are one of the worst teams ever at finishing at the rim. They are 25th in the league at converting open 3-pointers and shot only 51.5% from less than 10 feet which was the worst in the league. Hoiberg’s system should theoretically be bringing in more fantasy goodies (pace, space and movement) but the Bulls just do not have the personnel right now to run the offense.

     

    The Players

    Pau Gasol

    ADP: 31 (Yahoo! 9 cat) & 28 (ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 18/22 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 18/21 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 72

    In terms of total value, Pau was the best fantasy player on the Bulls this season and was the big winner of Fred Hoiberg’s new offensive scheme.  He produced at a consistent top-20 level and once again showed that father time has not caught up with him just yet. Gasol finished the season with per game averages of 16.5 points on an efficient 46.9% from the field and 79% from the line, 11 boards, 4.1 assists and two blocks. He also chipped in a career-high 24 3-pointers for good measure. Simply put, Gasol was once again a steal at his ADP and he will continue to be underdrafted due to age and injury concerns. It is tough to invest one of your first three picks in a risk/reward player, but Gasol has proven to be fairly durable despite logging a ton of minutes in his career. Staying in Chicago where he has put up back-to back top-20 seasons would obviously be the best scenario for his fantasy value, but the Bulls have a pretty deep frontcourt and there are already rumours of him exploring new options elsewhere. He still should be able to land a starting spot wherever he chooses and should be a lock for top-30 fantasy value once again next season with profit.

    Jimmy Butler

    ADP: 13 (Yahoo! 9 cat) & 15 (ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 25/29 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 15/19 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 67

    Jimmy Buckets is a stud in both the real world and our virtual game. Despite going through a mini-shooting slump last season, he still finished the season shooting 45 percent from the field and averaged a career-high 20.9 points per game. He also averaged a career-high 4.8 assists per game as one of the floor generals in Fred Hoiberg’s new offense. He also showed that he could mesh well with a healthy Derrick Rose and his usage rate actually increased to a career-high 24.6% with Rose in the lineup. Despite supposed run-ins with Hoiberg and a rumor that he was on the trade block, Butler is the franchise cornerstone (ahead of D-Rose) and is one of the elite two-way players in the league. You will need to use one of your first two picks to secure him in drafts but Butler will make it well worth it.

    Taj Gibson

    ADP: 136 (Yahoo! 9 cat) & 140 (ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 91/111 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 98/121 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 73

    Aside from Pau Gasol, Gibson was the most consistent frontcourt player for the Bulls this season. He had the best fantasy finish of his career ranking inside the top-100 in both total and per game value, and shot a career best 52 percent from the field despite his lowest minute per game average over the last three seasons. Gibson has a firm place in the rotation due to his defensive presence and his basketball IQ, which allow him to sustain minutes in the upper 20s despite not averaging the most gaudy statistics. He has one more year left on his deal before hitting free agency and he should remain a consistent source of low-end production.

    Nikola Mirotic

    ADP: 65 (Yahoo! 9 cat) & 82 (ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 113/109 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 88/92 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 66

    It was a mixed bag for Mirotic this season as he was one of the streakiest players in the NBA. There were high expectations after a strong finish to his rookie season and it showed in his ADP. He was a high mid-round pick in all of my leagues and everyone was drooling over his upside. So despite top-90 per game value, this season can be viewed as a let-down. The second-year forward finished with averages of 11.8 points on 40 percent shooting from the field and 80 percent from the line, two treys, 5.5 boards and 1.6 combined steals and blocks. These are not numbers you were expecting if you drafted Mirotic in the middle rounds and he was seen on many waiver wires during the season from frustrated owners. However, he really turned it up over the last month of the season posting top-30 value buoyed by three treys and nearly a steal and block per game. These are the types of numbers that owners were expecting and the Bulls desperately need his floor spacing and 3-point shooting. His value is on the rise and he will be in line for even more production if Pau Gasol leaves the Bulls.

    Doug McDermott

    ADP: 138 (Yahoo! 9 cat) & 140 (ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 199/208 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 257/271 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 81

    McDermott averaged nine points and almost 1.5 treys per game this season in a down year for a player who needed to show a big step in development. The Bulls need some consistent shooters but McDermott was still only averaging 20 minutes per game despite being the Bulls leader in games played this season. The 2014 first rounder has really not shown anything to believe his game will translate from the NCAA to the NBA and he has nothing more than 3-point specialist appeal.

    Derrick Rose

    ADP: 76 (Yahoo! 9 cat) & 56 (ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 209/148 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 206/129 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 66

    NBA fans were excited to see D-Rose healthy and back in action this season, as not too long ago he was viewed as one of the best young players in the league. There were very few players with his freakish athleticism (he was truly Westbrook-ian pre-injury) and unfortunately some of it has been sapped. Rose played 66 games this season which is actually his most in five years, but it did not translate into fantasy production in 9-cat leagues. He finished the season ranked outside of the top-200 and his value was really sunk by poor shooting. In his MVP season, Rose shot over 44 percent from the field and was hitting over 1.5 treys per game. This season, he shot 43 percent and hit under one 3-pointer a game. Rose shot a terrible 44 percent at the rim this year and many of his shots were not even close. This may be due to a lack of explosion making shots more difficult, but he needs to figure things out if he looks to average 20 points per game next season. The main thing to take away from this season is that Rose was generally healthy and there were games where he looked like “old Rose”, but he did not put it together consistently and he needs to become more efficient to return to fantasy relevance.

     E’Twaun Moore

    ADP: Undrafted (Yahoo! 9 cat & ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 229/236 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 221/231 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 59

    Despite going undrafted in almost all leagues, Moore was viewed a solid pick-up when Jimmy Butler was on the shelf and delivered with averages of 12 points, 1.4 treys, three boards, three dimes, and nearly a steal per game as a starter. As long as he sticks to his bench role, Moore will likely see his allotted low-20 minutes per game which will make his fantasy value negligible. However, he showed last year that he is a viable spot-starter and is capable of posting top-100 value in that scenario.

    Bobby Portis

    ADP: Undrafted (Yahoo! 9 cat & ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 254/257 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value:280/285 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 62

    Bobby Portis was a guy who was somehow overhyped despite being undrafted in many leagues. He was viewed as a premier stash guy who could produce if given the minutes after a strong showing in summer league play. Once the minutes came, he started strong with averages of ___ but simply did not produce any value the rest of the season. By the end of the year, he was getting outproduced by Cristiano Felicio (who?).

    Overall Portis was hyped for a reason and he does have a fantasy friendly game with double-double potential along with 3-and-D stats. Prospective owners will need to see what the Bulls do in the off-season to free up some minutes for Portis, but he will likely be similarly hyped next draft despite the down year.

     Joakim Noah

    ADP: 84 (Yahoo! 9 cat) & 107 (ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 321/313 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 199/173 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 29

    Noah had the worst fantasy season of his career last year and he set career-lows in games played, both FG and FT percentages and points. His season ended prematurely with shoulder surgery but he should be ready to go for the beginning of next season. Noah is a free agent this season and a return to the Bulls hinges on the decision of Pau Gasol. The front office has stated that they would like Noah to return and they may make that a primary focus if Gasol keeps hinting he wants out of Chicago. In terms of fantasy value, Noah has a poor track record when it comes to health and does not offer much bounce-back appeal for next season. This is not the same early-mid round guy he was in his prime and a bounce back should return only late-round value at best. I would avoid him even at discounts for next season’s draft.

    Mike Dunleavy

    ADP: 149 (Yahoo! 9 cat) & 140 (ESPN 8 cat), Total Value: 330/334 (9/8 cat), Per Game Value: 254/254 (9/8 cat), Games Played: 31

    Dunleavy came into the season recovering from back surgery and he really showed his age this year. Dunleavy averaged only seven points per game this season which is his lowest since his rookie season in 2002. He has consistently been a source of late-round value over the last few seasons, but because of his back injury and age, he is not a viable fantasy option for next season.

    Doctor’s Orders

    What I envision happening is Pau Gasol leaving with a title on his mind and Joakim Noah staying and playing considerably lower minutes to keep him fresh. I also see the Bulls loading up on shooters and Nikola Mirotic playing well in a full-time role as a stretch four. D-Rose will need to scale back his game a bit and Jimmy Butler will need to be given the keys to run the offense in order for the team to be successful. Most importantly, the Bulls need to find a way to keep their guys fresh and on the court. If not, it will be a quick NBA stint for Fred Hoiberg and the Bulls may go into roster blow-up mode.

Fantasy News

  • Robert Covington
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) will reportedly be "good to go" for the start of training camp in October.

    Well, this is good news that we didn't hope we would need. Covington played 35 games last year and couldn't get over the bone bruise injury that kept him out for a majority of the year. We expected him to be ready to go, and the fact that we're even discussing this is slightly less than ideal.

    Source: Dane Moore on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Team USA has named Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell as captains for the FIBA World Cup.

    Congratulations to Mitchell, Walker and Smart on the tremendous honor of being named captains for the USA men's team. This won't have any impact on their upcoming fantasy seasons, but it is a major accomplishment nonetheless. Team USA has an exhibition rematch against Team Australia on Saturday.

    Source: Boston.com Celtics News on Twitter

  • Isaiah Canaan
    PG, International

    Isaiah Canaan has signed a contract with the Shangdong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association.

    The veteran journeyman played for the Suns, Wolves and Bucks last season, appearing in 30 games total. Canaan will be looking at a more prominent role and payday overseas as he attempts to build his value back up before trying to latch on to a team towards the end of the year. Canaan is off the fantasy radar.

    Source: Zhang Duo on Twitter

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills put up 19 points, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's international exhibition between Team Australia and Team USA.

    The Boomers figure to be one of the chief threats to the Americans in the World Cup and put forth a competitive effort in today's exhibition. Mills has typically been a steady, late-round fantasy option for deep-league play but that may change this season as the Spurs will need to mix in both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. Chris Goulding tied for the team lead in points, also scoring 19 while hitting four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.

  • Myles Turner
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Myles Turner put up 15 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's exhibition win over Team Australia, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer.

    Turner didn't get any blocks but we know that last year's league-leader can rack those up in a hurry, whether he's getting them in international competition or not. Look for another early-middle round season out of the talented big man. Kemba Walker led Team USA with 23 points in the 102-86 win.

  • Trevon Bluiett
    PF, Utah Jazz

    Trevon Bluiett and Juwan Morgan sign with the Jazz in the hopes of one day playing in an NBA game.

    Bluiett was on a two-way contract with the Pelicans last season while Juwan Morgan played for the Jazz in the 2019 Summer League. They will both compete for a roster spot in training camp but neither is a guarantee to make the final roster. They both have yet to see the court in an NBA game and can be ignored from a fantasy perspective until that day comes.

    Source: Tony Jones on Twitter

  • Zach Collins
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    Zach Collins (ankle) began daily contact workouts on Monday and is on pace to head into training camp fully healthy.

    Collins is heading into what could be a breakout season as he is likely to start at the power forward position. In the 2019 playoffs, the Gonzaga product blocked a shot in 11 of the 16 games including three games in which he blocked three, four and five respectively. Collins has averaged around 33% from distance throughout his career which is exactly what he shot in the postseason (7-21). If he is able to improve from long range and plays starters minutes, Collins is a can't-miss player. It's far from a guarantee though as the 21-year-old has never finished with standard-league value. It does seem like Collins will be ready for training camp barring a major setback.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Cory Joseph
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    Nick Nurse said that reports of Cory Joseph missing the FIBA World Cup are “incorrect”.

    Nurse added that he spoke to Joseph on Wednesday and that the guard has his flights booked to China. Joseph was in Canada’s camp at home earlier this month, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the past four exhibition games. The situation has become a little bit murky but Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that Joseph will rejoin the team before they depart for China, which doesn’t happen until Monday.

    Source: John Casey on Twitter

  • Tyronn Lue
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting former Cavs championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue has agreed to join the Clippers as their top assistant coach to Doc Rivers.

    The Lakers and Clippers rivalry continues to heat up. Lue was very close to a deal with the Lakers in May to become their head coach, but the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Lue now joins Kawhi Leonard as another person to spurn the Lakers this offseason.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • PJ Tucker
    SF, Houston Rockets

    P.J. Tucker says he is optimistic about signing a contract extension soon.

    The 34-year-old 3-and-D wing hopes to extend his deal with the Rockets, but a potential extension wouldn't begin until his age-36 season. Houston has him under contract for two more seasons at this point, so they may not be motivated enough to get something done this offseason. However, a maximum Tucker extension would only have him in the $10 million per year range. Even as a 37-year-old, that could be a great deal if he can keep up his current production. Tucker remains a sneaky source of threes and steals late in fantasy drafts or off the wire.

    Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter