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The 3 things Chicago Bulls need to do to make the 2022 NBA Playoffs

Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a basket.
Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a basket.
ANALYST

The Chicago Bulls had a promising start to the 2020-21 NBA season, as the team ended the first half of the year with a 16-18 record and was right in the mix for the NBA Playoffs.

However, the Chicago Bulls' season ended the campaign with a 31-41 record and were two games out of the Play-In spots.

Areas to improve for the Chicago Bulls to reach the 2022 NBA Playoffs

Zach LaVine becoming an NBA All-Star in the 2020-21 NBA season was surely the highlight of the Chicago Bulls' run with coach Billy Donovan. For a team with a history like theirs, aspirations for the 2021-22 NBA campaign will surely be focused on the NBA Playoffs.

In this article, we will look at three areas that could be worked on in the Chicago Bulls' camp in order to be competitive again next year and take the extra step towards the postseason, which the team has missed since 2017.

Without further ado, let us take a look.


#3 Try to keep Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls.
Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls.

Finnish power forward Lauri Markkanen will be a restricted free agent in the 2021 NBA Free Agency. He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the seventh pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. Although the talented forward has suffered with injuries, his game has not dropped.

Availability is the best ability in the NBA, and that's where Markkanen has not been fortunate. Still, in 221 career games (195 starts), Markkanen averages 15.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, with 44/37/85 shooting splits.

His numbers are not those of a superstar, but the 24-year-old 7-footer can surely be a nice piece around LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. If Markkanen stays healthy and, more importantly, accepts to be the third or fourth option, he should help the Bulls greatly.

Of course, Markkanen will be tough to keep in Chicago for the upcoming years, as he only started in 26 of his 51 appearances last year and might be looking to go to another team, with Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks looking like a desired destiny.

Even though he only played 25 minutes per game in the 2020-21 season, Markkanen added 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, with an impressive 48/40/83 shooting splits.

The Bulls might not be impressed with Markkanen so far, but he could still give them good production, or present a good sign-and-trade opportunity if parties cannot work out a deal.


#2 Look for a veteran rim-protector in NBA Free Agency 2021

Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls.
Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls.

Daniel Theis arrived on the Chicago Bulls' roster after being traded from the Boston Celtics on March 25th, 2021. He gave the Bulls 10 points and six rebounds per game in the 23 appearances he had for the team (14 starts), but the German center will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021, and if he decides to leave or look for a big salary, we might have seen the last of him as a Chicago Bulls' player.

If Theis leaves, the Chicago Bulls will need to fill that void, and there are some good options in the 2021 NBA Free Agency. Veteran shot-blocker Serge Ibaka could be an option, but it is likely that it would be an expensive one.

Other veteran centers, however, who could accept low salaries are Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee. Other intriguing options could be Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel, Hassan Whiteside or even Robin Lopez, but it will depend on the approach of executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas.

Last year, the Chicago Bulls ranked 27th in blocks per game and a solid rim-protector could help the team next year.


#1 Continue to build Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic's chemistry on the court

Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Chicago Bulls.
Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Chicago Bulls.

Though Zach LaVine made it to the 2021 NBA All-Star Game and the Chicago Bulls were expected to stay quiet at the March 25th trade deadline, the team pulled the trigger and got an All-Star center from the Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic.

However, LaVine and Vucevic have played only 15 games together since the latter's arrival at United Center, and the team went 7-8 in those outings. Also, LaVine's numbers alongside Vucevic were not the same, as he averaged 27 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists throughout the season with a 50/41/85 shooting split.

On Vucevic's side, his numbers did not fall dramatically with the Chicago Bulls, but his average of points per game went from 24.5 with the Magic to 21.5 with Chicago.

It is more than likely that LaVine and Vucevic will adjust to playing with each other with time, and the pair could deliver great things to the Chicago Bulls in the 2021-22 NBA season.


Also read: Adam Silver announces the formation of NBA Africa, investors include former league greats Grant Hill and Dikembe Mutombo

Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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