Bulls

Lonzo Would Look Perfect Alongside LaVine

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Since coming into the league in 2017, Lonzo Ball has struggled with consistency on the offensive end. This season, he seems to have finally put together the tools which made him a top draft pick. With trade rumors heating up, Ball may see his time in New Orleans come to an end soon. Mutual interest with the Chicago Bulls has many discussing the possible fit, and why the Bulls would make such a deal.

Struggling Point-Guard Play

It is evident the struggles the Bulls have at the point-guard position. This season, Coby White has proven he is more of an off-ball guard. In his first full season running the point, White’s on-off numbers are pretty concerning.

The Bulls’ offensive rating drops from 116.0 to 111.7 when White is on the court. His assist numbers have also gone down in every month since the season started.

It’s not just offensively where White is struggling. Opponent offensive ratings with White on the floor is 114.8, compared to 108.5 when White is on the bench.

For the Bulls’ success, both in the present and future, it would be best to pair Zach LaVine with a point guard who can run the offense and create for others on the floor. At the moment, White is not providing the Bulls with what they need from the point-guard position.

With Lonzo’s name being shopped around, it would be a smart for the Bulls to explore the possibility of having a new point guard in Chicago.

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Roster Construction

There are many different reasons why the addition of Lonzo makes sense for the Bulls.

First, he provides the starting lineup with a point guard who can contribute on both ends of the floor. Offensively with Ball on the court, the Pelicans’ offense rating raises by 9.5 points. Their assist percentage also goes up 5.4% per 100 possessions as well. Defensively with Ball on the floor, the Pelicans defensive rating improves by 8.6 points.

Another reason why Ball is the perfect fit with the Bulls is the players he would be surrounded with. LaVine, Patrick Williams, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. can all shoot the ball from distance. Playing a run-and-gun style where Ball is finding shooters on the break puts everyone in a position to succeed.

A possible Ball addition does not mean the end for Coby White. The Bulls can choose to bring him in as a 6th man off the bench, but still play major minutes during the game. Acquiring a main point guard allows White to slide into more of his traditional score-first mentality.

Scoring Improvements

Due to outside noise coming into the league and being the second-overall pick, many expected Ball to be a player who can score and facilitate for others. His first three years in the league proved that was not entirely the case.

Ball never found consistency on offense, specifically with his shooting. His first three years in the league, Ball shot an average of 33.6% from deep. From the free-throw line, he shot an abysmal 47.8%. As a result of his poor shooting numbers, Ball averaged 10.6 points per game through three seasons.

This season, he seems to have found new confidence with his offensive game. Shooting 40.1% from three and 75.7% from the line, Ball has turned himself into a respectable shooter. He is also averaging a career-high 14.4 points per game.

In the month of February so far, Ball is playing the best stretch of basketball in his career. In 14 games, he is averaging 16.6 points, 5.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 48.2% from three and 84.0% from the free-throw line.

Trade Compensation

With free agency approaching for Ball this offseason, it would not be too expensive for the Bulls to acquire him. The Pelicans have first-round pick Kira Lewis Jr. waiting for his opportunity, with Nickeil Alexander-Walker having shown flashes of potential in limited minutes.

Could a Lonzo-Ball-for-Lauri-Markkanen swap be of interest to both teams? The Bulls are looking for more of a playmaking point guard which Ball fits, while the Pelicans are in dire need for more shooting. With free agency on the horizon this summer, fresh starts with new clubs may be what both players need.

A young athletic big man like Daniel Gafford could also be of interest to the Pelicans. Gafford gives the Pelicans more of a shot-blocking presence, with the ability to run the floor. New Orleans has a need for a backup center due to former first-round pick Jaxson Hayes not panning out to what they had hoped for when they selected him 8th overall.

With the trade deadline fast approaching, now is the time for the Bulls to make a move for Lonzo Ball. The Bulls have played themselves into a playoff opportunity, with Ball possibly being the piece that boosts them further into the picture.

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About Tim Houlihan

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