Bulls positional preview: The Wings

It has been easy to miss with the NBA draft, free agency, and most recently the FIBA World Cup, but the NBA  season is right around the  corner. Training camps are opening, preseason games are coming, and soon the NBA season will be fully underway.

There has been a lot roster turnover for the Bulls this off-season, but a tweak or two aside the roster is complete.

Where do the Bulls strength and weaknesses reside as the season approaches? In this post I will address the wing position skill group player by player.


Mike Dunleavy Junior: Coming into the NBA, Dunleavy was billed as an all around point forward type. Though his skill set remains intact age has turned him into a more of a spot up shooter.

Many people have penciled in McDermott as the starter based on him being the best shooter on the team and having quite a bit more juice in his legs than Dunleavy.

This reasoning is understandable, but Dunleavy has spent a year in Thibs system, which gives him the edge. Also he was pretty good last year as the only real wing shooting threat.

His per game stats weren’t spectacular but he ranked 3rd on the Bulls in win shares(top 10 among SF’s), which speaks to his value as a guy who knows how to execute Thibs’s system on both ends.

He will ably man the starting small forward spot for another season.

Jimmy Butler: Butler is the X-factor for this positional group and the Bulls as a whole. Last year while shooting under 30% from 3 and 40% from the field he was a top 10-12 SG in the league. When you are the best defender at your position,  and a force at the basket you can overcome some shoddy shooting.

However, if he were to regain the shooting touch he displayed just 2 seasons ago he would become one of the 5 best shooting guards in the league, and would make the Bulls starting 5 pretty lethal.

Unfortunately, unlike Derrick Rose returning to form after essentially  a two year hiatus, I have no idea if Butler can become a floor spacing threat again.  The track record of him shooting well is essentially the 2nd half of the 2012-2013 season.

It will be interesting to see if does regain the shooting touch as it might be the development that propels them past the Cavaliers.


Doug McDermott: McDermott has all the makings of a great shooter at the NBA level, but his ability to score in a variety ways makes me think he will be among the Bulls best per minute scorers immediately.

It is one thing to be a knockdown shooter, but it is quite another to combine that with the ability to hit shots off a spot up, off the dribble, coming off screens etc.

His ceiling as a player is ultimately going to come down to how he rounds out the rest of his offensive game, but there is a little doubt in my mind that he will be able to fill it up right away.

However, his ceiling as a rookie is going to depend on  his ability to defend, but given how shallow their wing depth is I envision him seeing regular minutes this season regardless.

Tony Snell: Offensively I am not sure that we can expect anything positive from “Snellycat”. He had relative ho hum production in college and in his rookie season he had a PER of below 9. Though he was billed as a shooter he only shot 32% from beyond the arc.

He showed flashes. He is long, athletic, and has a nice looking shot, but it just hasn’t translated, and I don’t think it ever will.  The Bulls for what it’s worth aren’t banking on him becoming an above average offensive player (see Doug McDermott).

Defensively is where his potential should meet with production. He has long arms, quick feet,  and the right mindset and coach to be a difference maker defensively.

If this happens he will be a valuable player for the Bulls this year and beyond, but will still likely never be a major contributor.

Overall grade for wings: C

Dunleavy and Butler are the epitome of solid, and McDermott is highly intriguing coming off the bench, but there isn’t an All-Star in this group, and the depth is seriously lacking.

Though I have high hopes for McDermott he is still a rookie, and Snell is a fringe NBA player until proven other wise, and that is essentially it for wing depth.

The other major flaw of this group is that it is pretty homogenous.  Dunleavy and McDermott would appear to have similar skill sets ditto for Snell and Butler.

This is where the Bulls miss Deng. He could do everything offensively at a decent, if not great, level.

There is no one in this current group who offers that type of versatility. McDermott is the best hope as he is more athletic and skilled than he is given credit for, but he doesn’t offer quite the same length or athleticism as Deng.

The loss of Deng, Jimmy Butler’s jump shot, and failure of Tony Snell to produce as a rookie have made this group significantly worse than they were at this time last time.

McDermott can cure some of the Bulls woes at this spot, but certainly not all.

All stats courtesy of ESPN.com and basketballreference.com

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