• 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

  • Andre Iguodala
    SF, Miami Heat

    Andre Iguodala returned to South Florida after living in California since the NBA season was suspended.

    Iguodala returning to the market where his team is could mean that he believes team workouts will begin soon. However, there is no official timetable on when team workouts will begin and Jimmy Butler has yet to return to Miami.

    Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter

  • Zach LaVine
    SG, Chicago Bulls

    K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls were cleared by the Governor of Illinois and are in talks with city officials to open practice facilities on Friday for voluntary workouts that would follow the NBA guidelines.

    The NBA's guidelines currently state that a maximum of four players are allowed in the facility at any given time and there can only be one player per hoop. The Bulls are currently eight games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls may not play again this season given how far behind they are in the standings and the recent reports of proposals to not continue the regular season.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported that the Mavs plan to open their practice facility on Thursday.

    This news would make the Mavs the 23rd team to have their facilities open for "voluntary and socially distanced player workouts". Continue to monitor the wire as we should learn more about the potential of the league resuming in early June.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    On Tuesday afternoon, AmicoHoops reported (via Twitter) that an unidentified NBA GM told them the league has seriously discussed resuming the current NBA season on Wednesday, July 22.

    Nothing has been officially announced, by any means, and this is the first we've heard of specific target date(s) from anyone. It's looking like the continuation of the season will occur in Orlando at Walt Disney World at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, which has accommodations for at least some of what the NBA has planned for a resuming activity. As we have relayed numerous times recently, the next week or two seem to be a likely window for some decisions from Adam Silver and Co. at the NBA league office to start to come down. Stay tuned, hoops fans.

    Source: AmicoHoops on Twitter

  • Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard announced on Tuesday evening that, in the event of a continuation of the NBA season, he would not be participating if the Blazers are scheduled to play 'meaningless games' with no shot at making the playoffs.

    "If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating," Lillard told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday morning. It's hard to blame him, as it is quite easy to see the potential situation from his point of view. There have been countless scenarios tossed around by the league office during the pandemic period, but nothing is set in stone so far. Lillard, for his part, is only interested in returning to action if there exists a legitimate shot for his Blazers to reach the NBA Finals. Fair enough.

    Source: Yahoo! Sports

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    The Sixers, who have their practice facility located in nearby Camden, NJ, will allow voluntary player workouts at the facility beginning on Wednesday, raising the number of NBA teams who have been able to do so to 22.

    The Celtics, Knicks, Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, Mavericks, Spurs and Warriors are the final teams remaining who are unable to return to their practice facilities. The NBA seems to be inching ever so close to, at the very least, announcing a plan for a continuation of the current season. This next week or two should be very eventful on that front.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Clint Capela
    C, Atlanta Hawks

    Hawks GM Travis Schlenk indicated on Tuesday that Clint Capela (right heel, plantar fasciitis) could very well play in the event of an NBA restart.

    "Clint [Capela] says he's feeling better, and there's a possibility that we can get him back on the court," Schlenk said in a phone interview with ESPN. "Practicing and playing five games would be valuable to us." Capela has yet to see the floor for the Hawks since he was acquired at the deadline from the Rockets, and one would have to surmise that he would be under a heavy minutes restriction if the league resumes and if the Hawks deem him healthy enough to give it a go. Still two big "ifs," but this is obviously positive news for the Hawks and potentially for fantasy owners who have managed to stash Capela in an injury slot this long.

    Source: ESPN.com

  • Mohamed Bamba
    C, Orlando Magic

    Magic center Mo Bamba said on Tuesday that he's spent the quarantine period bulking up, self-proclaiming that he's put on close to 30 pounds of muscle.

    Bamba said of his time off, ""I’ve worked my tail off during this quarantine. This is going to sound weird, but I put on probably about 28 pounds since quarantine (started)." He laughed and added that only about 2.5 percent of the weight he's put on is body fat. Bamba, along with many other NBA players, "can’t wait to get back out there and work" which is a great sign for the Magic and their fans. Jonathan Isaac is becoming more and more of a potential option for the team when/if the season is resumed as the days pass, so his presence would limit Bamba's chances on the offensive end of the floor. The team has yet to decide whether or not they want to play Isaac at all the rest of the season, regardless of the rumblings about a restart from the league office. However, this bulk-up on Bamba's part is nonetheless pretty impressive and is certainly noteworthy.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Terry Rozier
    PG, Charlotte Hornets

    The Hornets are the latest team to re-open their facilities, with the Novant Health Training Center set to open up on Tuesday.

    With this, there are only eight teams left to open their practice courts back up, though nobody has been able to engage in any sort of team work yet. Individual workouts are better than no workouts, however, and the league appears to be getting its ducks in a row in terms of returning to play. There's still no firm timelines but things do appear to be heading in the right direction.

    Source: Charlotte Hornets

  • Jon Leuer
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    Jon Leuer has announced his retirement from basketball.

    Injuries completely destroyed Leuer's career, as he played in a combined 49 games over the previous two seasons with zero appearances in the 2019-20 campaign. Leuer's high point came with the Suns, where he averaged 8.5 points to go with 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks and a 38.2 mark from deep. His eight-year career comes to an end, with Leuer saying that his body simply won't let him play at a high level anymore.

    Source: Jon Leuer on Instagram