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12 CHICAGO BULLS

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A MODEST PROPOSAL ...

LOCK ZACH LAVINE IN A ROOM WITH SCOTTIE PIPPEN

The Bulls made some interesting roster decisions over the summer. They signed Jabari Parker, a move that could have negative consequences on the defense. Chicago also matched a four-year, $78 million offer the Kings made Zach LaVine. Now, teams shouldn't give up on 23-year-olds. And letting LaVine walk one year after he was acquired from Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade would have been hard to do. But LaVine poses a serious problem for the Bulls.

Simply put, he is a massive minus on the defensive end. He could turn into 1987 Michael Jordan on offense and still be a liability. In every year of his career, LaVine's teams have performed better defensively with him on the bench. In fact, in every year of his career, LaVine's teams have a better net rating with him off the court. Until he does something to fix the glaring flaw in his game, he can't live up to his massive contract.

So put LaVine in a room with Scottie Pippen and don't let him leave until he learns the intricacies of elite defense. LaVine has the physical gifts necessary to become at least an adequate defender. The Bulls would be much better off with LaVine sacrificing some buckets for stops.

STARTING 5

COACH FRED HOIBERG

2017--18 RECORD 27--55

PREDICTION: Miss playoffs

PG KRIS DUNN

6.0

APG

SG ZACH LAVINE

16.7

PPG

SF JABARI PARKER [NEW ACQUISITION]

12.6

PPG

C ROBIN LOPEZ

4.5

RPG

43.4

FG%

PF LAURI MARKKANEN

Markkanen's shooting was typical of the Bulls'. The rookie's field goal percentage was nearly identical to his team's: 43.5%, which was the worst mark in the NBA.

BENCH

PF BOBBY PORTIS

SF JUSTIN HOLIDAY

PF WENDELL CARTER JR. [ROOKIE]

(*) NEW ACQUISITION

(R) ROOKIE

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP CHICAGO

THEY'RE INTERESTING. They are very injury-prone, with JABARI PARKER, ZACH LAVINE and KRIS DUNN. I hope their medical team is good.... I don't know how the pieces all fit together, but they have four really high-upside young guys, on the perimeter with Jabari and LaVine and down low with LAURI MARKKANEN and WENDELL CARTER.... Lauri was really good last year, and obviously you want to see him continue to develop off the dribble and become more than a shooter. That's where guard play comes in. Can they get him the ball? ... Carter didn't show what he could actually do at Duke. His ball skills and ability to put it on the floor and score are high level. We saw it in Vegas [during summer league] a little bit. How do you play him and Lauri together? Do you put Markkanen on the perimeter exclusively and try and make him into Dirk? ... I wonder who the leader is. They still have ROBIN LOPEZ, but he can't do it on the court at as high a level anymore.... The good thing for Dunn is he won't lack for opportunity. He's getting the keys to the offense and should play heavy minutes as a starter.... BOBBY PORTIS had a really good year last year. Everyone forgets that because of the Nikola Mirotić situation [when Portis broke his then teammate's jaw with a punch]. He might benefit from Markkanen's absence [an injured elbow that will keep him out for up to eight weeks]. They don't have a ton of proven big guys, so Portis is going to get a chance. He's improved each year, and it's the last year of his rookie deal. You see a lot of players take a big leap going into their second contract.