15 BULLS - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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15 BULLS

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Chicago will be the league's worst team. In trading Jimmy Butler, buying out Dwyane Wade and letting Rajon Rondo walk, the front office realized that the "Three Alphas" experiment was an utter failure, and instead it opted for a full-on rebuild this summer.

So Windy City fans have just one thing to look forward to: the draft. Luckily for the Bulls, lottery reform doesn't kick in until next season, so they will still have a 25% chance at getting the No. 1 pick by finishing with the worst record. (It would be 14% next year.) And it's hard to imagine any other team being worse.

The athletic, 6'5" Zach LaVine, the main piece acquired from the Timberwolves for Butler, can put the ball in the basket, but he won't be cleared for contact until November as he recovers from tearing his left ACL last February. Robin Lopez is a hard worker, and Nikola Mirotic has a decent stroke. Aside from those three, the rest of the roster is filled with young players who haven't flashed any star potential. They had a total of four 20-point games last year between them.

All that adds up to a huge pile of losses and, with luck, a new era starting next June.

PROJECTED LINEUP

2016--17 STATS

COACH FRED HOIBERG

(3rd season with Bulls)

2016--17 RECORD 41--41

(4th in Central)

PG KRIS DUNN [NEW ACQUISITION]

3.8 PPG; 2.4 APG; 1.0 SPG; 37.7 FG%

SG ZACH LAVINE [INJURED TO START SEASON] [NEW ACQUISITION]

18.9 PPG; 3.4 RPG; 45.9 FG%; 38.7 3FG%

SF JUSTIN HOLIDAY [NEW ACQUISITION]

7.7 PPG; 2.7 RPG; 43.3 FG%; 35.5 3FG%

PF BOBBY PORTIS

6.8 PPG; 4.6 RPG; 48.8 FG%; 33.3 3FG%

85 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]

C ROBIN LOPEZ

10.4 PPG; 6.4 RPG; 1.4 BPG; 49.3 FG%

BENCH

SF PAUL ZIPSER

5.5 PPG; 2.8 RPG; 39.8 FG%; 33.3 3FG%

PG JERIAN GRANT

5.9 PPG; 1.9 APG; 42.5 FG%; 36.6 3FG%

PF LAURI MARKKANEN [ROOKIE, COLLEGE STATS]

15.6 PPG; 7.2 RPG; 49.2 FG%; 42.3 3FG%

• THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING

*NEW ACQUISITION

(I) INJURED TO START SEASON

(R) ROOKIE, COLLEGE STATS

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP CHICAGO

LAURI MARKKANEN is pretty interesting. He's 7 feet, he can shoot fast, he has a better handle than he showed at Arizona, and every team in the league is looking for a big guy who can shoot. I mean, Ryan Anderson's making $20 million a year. Markkanen has his issues, but they're gonna be able to cover for him a little bit.... ZACH LAVINE benefited from taking a lot of shots last year for a Minnesota team that was bad. Is he a foundation piece? No. But I think they looked at it from the standpoint that he's 23, he can help us win now and he's talented enough. At minimum he can be a good defensive player.... Does NIKOLA MIROTIC fit what they want to be and do? He's made 363 threes in three years, and I always thought he had a little more to his game than he's shown. He was slotted as a three-point shooter early in his career, so that's what people think he is.... ROBIN LOPEZ could be a tradable guy at the deadline for a team that wants to play with size in the playoffs or wants to be heavy on the offensive boards. He's out of place right now given the direction they decided to go.... DENZEL VALENTINE is so challenged athletically. Can he be a spot-up three-point shooter? I think so, but it's hard to see him as a starter on a deep playoff team.... They have some pretty good international scouting, and CRISTIANO FELICIO has been a good get for them. He may be a tradable piece too.... BOBBY PORTIS is probably a really good three-point-shooting center. That's what he's got to start to get his head around.

TELLING 25 STATISTIC

BOTTOM LINE

It's going to be ugly. Very ugly. The franchise record for losses (67 in 2000--01) will be under attack.