I know Memphis is the home of Graceland, but it’s also the birthplace of Justin Timberlake. So, I made a JT reference in the title, related to his 2016 feel good pop hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. Odd choice, I know. But the Bulls have me feeling good. And they should have you feeling good, too. I made the error of visiting Facebook after the 109-107 road victory over the Grizzlies and saw a post from my friend Lopez, who thinks they should be trying to lose for draft reasons. I took some will power not to engage. Never get anywhere in those arguments. But here I’m the only voice, so let me say things. First, be happy we’ve got such a high-functioning team. Lauri Markkanen is on a remarkable run to superstardom. Would you really rather have him playing like trash and showing no promise for a barely better chance at Zion? Who will probably be good, but maybe not better than Blake Griffin, whom I wouldn’t tank a season to acquire. Despite going 0-5 from 3 pt. land last night, he still scored 22 points in a variety of ways and pulled down double-digits rebounds, as has become the usual. Otto Porter added 20 points and 3 blocked shots. Zach LaVine, the Scoring Machine, eased his way to 30 points. Zachknife average 20 in his sleep. But he was fully aware in this game. Engaged and running the show with efficiency and focus. You can tell he loves playing with Otto. The 3-man combo of Lauri, Zach & Otto is playoff team quality, given a full season. Add in Wendell Carter Jr. next year and I guarantee you at least a 6 seed. Kris Dunn played solidly, maybe not standout, but solidly. Arcidiacono is fantastic, but Dunn right now is our best starting option. Unless the organization falls in love with a point guard in the draft like Morant or Garland and is able to land one or the other, I don’t see a better young PG on the market that fits the Bulls timeline. He battles on D better than most in the league and averages 6 assists. Far from perfect otherwise, I know. But there aren’t any A-list PGs available. If they sign D-Rose this offseason, fine. I’d be way on board. But I don’t see management bringing Derrick back. Let’s see how Dunn finishes this year. Let him try to get in the flow with the other starters. RoLo continues to offer so many things, including 5 blocks. He didn’t put up huge numbers otherwise, but did all the little things, like boxing out. I hope he re-ups with the Bulls for a backup role next year and beyond. He might get bigger offers elsewhere, however. The Bulls are likely to fall in the 4-6 range after the lottery balls are drawn. Best bet: they end up with Cam Reddish, the highly skilled yet underperforming 3rd Duke freshman. I can more than live with this lineup next season:
Starters: Dunn, LaVine, Otto, Lauri, Wendell
2nd Unit: Arch, Valentine, Hutchison, Reddish, Lopez
I see a competitive team there. A playoff team. With a rising superstar (Lauri); a backup star(Zach); a third scorer/two-way stud (Otto); a high-level, active up and down the court center who can score and defend (Carter) and a defensive stopper who still has a chance to put it all together (Dunn). That’s a deep bench, too.
So, I’m gonna enjoy my wins and eat the future, too. There’s no point in hoping for losses. You’re my buddy, but please stop with the tank talk Lopez. All the best & Go Bulls.