The Chicago Bulls enter the 2023-24 season at a crossroads. A few main storylines will dictate how their season goes and the team’s direction. Here are the top three storylines for Chicago that will be on every fan’s mind.
Top 3 Storylines for the Chicago Bulls in the 2023-24 Season
Chicago’s future and success hinges on a few things going right for the team. The top three storylines for the Bulls are Zach LaVine’s stardom, the new additions, and the trade deadline.
Can Zach Lavine Become a Superstar?
Last offseason, LaVine signed a five-year, $215-million contract to stay with Chicago. He is currently the longest-tenured and longest-signed (through 2027) member of Chicago’s “big three.” Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan are older, and LaVine is positioned to be the Bulls’ superstar. Last season, he posted 24.8 points per game with 49/38/85 shooting splits. His 27.8% usage rate was the most on the team, just ahead of DeRozan’s 27.2%.
Despite his high-level production, LaVine has yet to take the Bulls to the next level. DeRozan is still an alpha player but is over 30 with a shorter contract. LaVine unseating DeRozan as the team’s primary option would be the next step in his stardom. He needs to put distance between himself and DeRozan in terms of usage and production and take the reigns as a leader. If LaVine can elevate his game to this level, the team has a greater chance of making the playoffs and winning a series or two. All eyes are on him and his development to superstardom.
How Do the New Additions Fit?
Veterans Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter will be driving points of the Bulls’ rotations this season. Both players were brought in because of their defensive prowess and occasional outside shooting skills. One of the top storylines for Chicago will be if these new additions stick to key roles in the rotation and propel the team into the playoffs.
Carter will be competing for the starting point guard spot. The 27-year-old will be up against Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White, and Alex Caruso for minutes. Carter has the edge over Dosunmu due to his veteran experience, and he also has the edge over White and Caruso, who have the shooting and versatility, respectively, to fit the second unit. If Carter can produce as a playmaker, defender, and perimeter shooter, he will be a good fit as a starter with the first unit.
Meanwhile, Craig will be boosting the forward rotation. He is a veteran version of Patrick Williams and will “compete” with him for the starting power forward spot. It will come down to whether head coach Billy Donovan believes Williams can better complement the second unit with a minimal production decrease to Craig in the starting lineup.
Buying or Selling at the Trade Deadline?
Chicago made the play-in last season but did not advance with its core group. With DeRozan entering the last year of his deal, the competitive window is closing soon. So, one of Chicago’s biggest storylines is how the team handles the trade deadline. If the team is not performing in line with making a playoff spot, it would make sense to deal DeRozan for assets instead of losing him for nothing. He would be the biggest piece available, with other veterans like Caruso or Vucevic also potentially on the block.
In contrast, if the Bulls are exceeding expectations and competing in the East, they would look to sell younger talent for veteran contributors. Players like Williams, White, Dosunmu, and Dalen Terry would be available to deal in this case. Williams would fetch as much as a star return, White and/or Dosunmu would fetch starter-level veterans, and Terry would fetch up to a rotation player return.