Chicago Bulls Embrace Continuity and Progress as They Enter Training Camp

Continuity and progress. 

Those words could summarize the Chicago Bulls Media Day, held Monday at the Advocate Center on the Near West Side. 

The Bulls are running it back again with their “Big Three” of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vučević and have two pivotal camp battles that will decide who will be the team’s starting point guard and power forward. 

Yet, at Monday’s Media session, the prevailing belief among players such as DeRozan is that this Bulls team can exceed expectations and go way beyond the result of the 2022-23 season when they were eliminated by the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat in a play-in game. 

Starting Tuesday, the team will be “working remotely” as they travel to Nashville to begin its training camp at Belmont University’s Crockett Center over the next five days. 

The 15-year veteran said it’s about “getting away from being in a city where it’s just us really gaining that camaraderie, that chemistry and understanding of what it takes.”

DeRozan also said that the team should acknowledge the failure of last year’s play-in game and use that experience as a point of growth.  

“We got to go into training camp with that on our heart,” he said, “And with that, we can leave out of here with much more continuity than we had before.” 

Here are some other critical questions about the Bulls as they enter training camp.

Who Will Be the Starting Point Guard?

By the time training camp is over, this Bulls team will decide who will start at this crucial position since Lonzo Ball is expected to miss the upcoming season. 

The point guard battle is a three-man contest between incumbents Coby White and hometown kid Ayo Dosunmu and new addition Jevon Carter, also from the Chicago area. 

Each player brings something different to the table. 

White is a young scoring guard tasked with evolving into more of a playmaker and distributor. Dosunmu brings size, defense and versatility but will need to improve upon his three-point shooting after his percentage dipped last season. 

At 28, Carter is that seasoned veteran with the experience who demonstrated shooting prowess and defensive grit but lacks ample starting experience outside his last season with the Milwaukee Bucks.

When asked what his mentality is in approaching the looming camp battle, Carter said it was ultimately about doing what he could to affect the result on the scoreboard.

“I’m just gonna let the coach make the decision,” he said. 

“I’m gonna show up, do what I gotta do, and whether you start, come on the bench, it really doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to win.”

For White, the all-time leading scorer in North Carolina high school basketball history, it’s about morphing into a playmaker for the other guys on the court, who helps them get better shots.

“Obviously, my thing was scoring,” he said, “So for me to see how I kind of alter my game to be more of a point guard, more of a lead guard, more of a vocal guy, it’s been great for me, and I want to just continue to fine-tune those things and continue to get better.” 

“Set my teammates up, getting into the paint, kicking out, breaking down a defense and being that leader,” White added. 

Who Are The Biggest Additions to The Team?

Clearly, the Bulls wanted to get better at shooting three-pointers and playing defense. They believe they’ve fulfilled both wishes with the additions of Carter and veteran combo forward Torrey Craig. 

The 32-year-old Craig brings toughness, along with shooting and defense. 

He also finds himself in a camp battle with 22-year-old, fourth-year player Patrick Williams, an athletic, ascending player who has yet to reach his ceiling. 

Who Has The Best Ball Players, the South or West Side?

When I asked this question of Carter, who attended Proviso East in Maywood, he was unequivocal. 

“West Side, come on now,” he said. 

I suspect that Dosunmu, who grew up on the South Side and starred at Morgan Park High School, would feel differently, but I didn’t get to ask him that. 

What’s clear, however, is that for Carter, being in a Bulls uniform fulfills a lifelong dream, a scenario he played out countless times in his younger days when he played the NBA 2K basketball video game.

“I would go on 2K and create me a player and put him on the Bulls and having number five, starting at the point guard position,” he shared when asked what it meant to be a Bull. 

“I can’t even really describe how I feel, honestly. I just want to get out there. I’m just so eager to play and just let my game speak for itself.”

Final Question: Why Not Them?

If the Bulls are looking for a path toward playoff success, they can look no further than the Heat, who made it to the NBA Finals as an eighth seed. 

Of course, the Bulls must also contend with teams like the Bucks and Boston Celtics, who have bolstered their rosters through the recent acquisitions of star guards Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday, respectively.

But the mentality of this team heading into training camp mirrors that of other players around the league: Why not us?

“Nobody would’ve picked the Heat to make it to the Finals,” said DeRozan. “It’s always some type of story that’s written that nobody had expected. And that’s the beauty of the game. Anything can happen.”


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