ESPN has them finishing as the eight-seed next season.
That is quite the gloomy outlook for a team that sat in first place in the Eastern Conference after returning from the All-Star break.
A 4-1 first-round elimination in which they looked largely non-competitive against the Milwaukee Bucks will do that. But Amin thinks that the pieces are in place for the Bulls to surprise some people and he’s not alone in that thinking.
Health is First and Foremost
Amin was a guest on “Unfiltered” with David Kaplan on August 15. The pair talked about their outlook on the Bulls ahead of training camp in just over a month. Kaplan framed his question around the Bulls’ push for continuity this offseason.
They have a good reason to do so, says Amin.
“I think if they’re healthy…this core, as proven through the first half of last season, is good enough to be a competitive second-round team. Meaning they could potentially win, with the right matchup, a second-round series. But they need to be healthy.”
And Lonzo Ball had been out since January.
Amin went on to cite the Bulls’ offseason, which has come under fire for the lack of sizzle with the additions that they did make, as a positive.
“I think this team got better along the margins where they needed to – they didn’t have to get drastically better. And if the core is healthy…that core is good enough in my estimation to make some noise. And they’re better on the margins.”
Kap’s Keys to Bulls Success
Kaplan also chimed in with his take on what it will take for the Bulls to take that next step. His answer included health but in a much more specific way. He feels the key to Chicago’s progress lies in their youth.
Amin had cited what rookie Dalen Terry could offer. But Kaplan wasn’t ready to put that responsibility on the rookie’s shoulder.
“I do believe the key to the season is player development of Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu. Look, rookies are what rookies are. Whatever you get. Patrick Williams, I believe, has a chance to be a star. A star! He’s got to take the next step. He’s got to stay healthy.”
Amin concurred with Kaplan that health was a key for Williams. The third-year forward missed all but 17 regular season games last season before being thrust into his first playoff series.
Williams has flashed tremendous potential. But he himself admits that he has to find a way to deliver upon all of his talent consistently. To that end, Williams flew to Los Angeles earlier in the offseason to work with teammate DeMar DeRozan; one of the most consistent performers in the NBA today.
The DeRozan Connection
Williams spoke highly of his time spent training with and learning from DeRozan. He said his biggest takeaways were that DeRozan is constantly challenging himself mentally and the importance of having a routine.
The duo also appeared in a pro-am game together that got plenty of attention.
But Williams is not the only player on his own team who has benefitted from being under the tutelage of DeRozan.
Dosunmu quickly formed a bond with the five-time All-Star last season as a rookie, even being the one to calm the veteran down in heated moments, and it paid off for him in real-time with a second-team All-Rookie selection.
Both players being keys to the Bulls’ success makes sense. It is also a risky proposition. But it is one that would be even riskier if they weren’t able to have such a great example set for them as the one being set by DeRozan on a daily basis.