The Chicago Bulls return to the field to prepare for the 2022-23 season with Tuesday’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center (8:30 p.m., TNT, NBCSCH+).
Four exhibition games will offer a first look at this season’s squad, which includes 13 players returning from last season’s roster.
Here are four key questions for the Bulls ahead of preseason action.
1. Who will start at point guard?
Coach Billy Donovan said Lonzo Ball continues to improve after Wednesday’s knee surgery, his second since a meniscus injury sidelined him in January. But Ball is months away from returning to the starting lineup.
In the meantime, the Bulls need to use the preseason to solidify their point guard rotation. They could play with different rotations – for example, starting veteran Goran Dragić and concluding with Alex Caruso to balance experience and defensive acumen.
Pre-season games might not provide a completely clear answer. Dragić is still training under restricted minutes after taking part in the Eurobasket tournament last month, which could result in a lighter pre-season workload than he will play in the regular season. But Dragić said the Bulls will begin to solidify their rotations during preseason games, which could give clues to the starting point guard.
2. How does a healthy Zach LaVine contribute to the offense?
After a season marred by a knee injury, LaVine has expressed his desire to return to full health in 2022-23.
The Bulls need more availability from their All-Star shooting guard this season after LaVine signed a max contract extension in the offseason. The preseason offers a first look at LaVine’s style of play after arthroscopic knee surgery over the summer.
Donovan said he will speak with veterans such as LaVine, Dragić and DeMar DeRozan to determine how many preseason minutes they need to prepare for the regular season without risking fatigue or injury. While key starters are unlikely to play full rotations, the Bulls would benefit from giving LaVine and DeRozan enough time on the court together.
3. Did Patrick Williams increase his aggression?
Bulls teammates and coaches have been candid that they need more from the power forward in his third season. Williams was also deterred by injury last season, spending most of it on the bench tending to torn ligaments in his left wrist.
Williams was particularly hesitant after returning late in the season, a trait that also stood out in his rookie season.
The Bulls urged Williams to increase his shot volume as well as his downhill aggression when driving to the basket. If he doesn’t show more confidence in preseason competition, the Bulls could have cause for concern as Williams continues to find his place in the rotation.
4. Is rookie Dalen Terry ready for action?
The Bulls added to their backcourt depth by using the No. 18 NBA draft pick on Terry, an Arizona defensive mind guard who is still working on his jump shot as he starts his first season.
The Bulls expressed optimism about Terry’s performance in the NBA Summer League, in which he averaged 11.8 points. But is he ready for real NBA minutes?
Donovan said the Bulls plan to bring Terry in slowly, using the G League’s Windy City Bulls as a platform to rack up first-team minutes. But the Bulls said the same of Ayo Dosunmu ahead of his rookie season, which ended with the freshman guard leading the offense in Ball’s absence.
The Bulls are already operating with a diminished depth chart at guard due to Ball’s injury. Terry’s performance over the next two weeks will set a gauge for his readiness to start seeing minutes in the secondary rotation.
Bulls preseason schedule
- Tuesday, October 4: vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 8:30 p.m., United Center, TNT, NBCSCH+
- Friday, October 7: vs. Denver Nuggets, 7 p.m., United Center, NBCSCH
- Sunday, October 9: at the Toronto Raptors, 5 p.m., Scotiabank Arena, NBCSCH
- Tuesday, October 11: vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 7 p.m., United Center, NBCSCH