Bulls Are Making Major Changes to the Starting Lineup

Getty Billy Donovan

The Chicago Bulls’ starting lineup will look a lot different on Sunday when the Toronto Raptors come to town.

According to a source referenced by the Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry, Bulls head coach Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young will be replacing Coby White, and Wendell Carter Jr., respectively, in the team’s first five.

Donovan has been refreshingly honest with the media all season, and you could see this change coming based on his comments from last week.

“The first six minutes of games, if you look at the net rating and the numbers, we’ve been one of the worst teams in the league in that area,” Donovan said this week.

After the change is made, the Bulls’ new starting lineup will feature Satoransky, All-Star Zach LaVine, rookie Patrick Williams, and the recently returned Lauri Markkanen and Young.

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LaVine and White Haven’t Been Consistent Together

There’s a lot to unpack with this lineup change, but let’s start in the backcourt. LaVine and White haven’t been consistently good while playing together this season. In fact, while LaVine and White are on the floor together, the Bulls are minus-4, per NBA.com.

In stark contrast, Satoransky and LaVine are plus-4.7 while on the floor together. It’s a pretty obvious stylistic mix. Satoransky is a more pure point guard and natural facilitator. He and LaVine seem to work much better together on the offensive end. Also, while no one will mistake Satoransky for Jrue Holiday anytime soon, the former is out of position a lot less than White, and his extra length and effort make him a more effective defensive player.

White is a pure scorer, who despite his efforts to convert himself into a point guard, is best suited as a sixth-man who comes off the bench to give Chicago a shot of explosive offense. This demotion will undoubtedly sting, but it’s for the team’s betterment, and it will place White in a role that is more in line with his talents.

Getting Thad in the Game Earlier

Besides LaVine, you could argue Young has been the Bulls’ most consistent performer. The move to put Young into the starting lineup suggests the Bulls will not be moving the 14-year-veteran at the trade deadline–despite a ton of interest–and are instead more willing to see what they can make of the rest of the regular season.

The new starting lineup is a small one, with Markkanen as the tallest player. He is 7-feet tall, though he’s anything but a fierce low-post presence on offense or defense. Young will do the dirty work inside. He may get the defensive assignment against the opposing team’s best low-post scoring threats.

Carter Jr. has struggled mightily of late, and it appears his confidence may be shaken. After another disappointing performance in the team’s loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night, he recently vented to the media.

“I just got to play better,” Carter said. “I can be better all around. I’m never satisfied, especially when we’re not winning. I just got to be better.”

Better will have to come in a reserve role for now. When it’s all said and done, the Bulls could have one of the most fierce second units in the NBA. They can come off the bench with Ryan Arcidiacono, White, Garrett Temple or Denzel Valentine, Otto Porter Jr., and Carter or Daniel Gafford. Four of those players have started for the Bulls this season with some regularity, and if they can find some chemistry together, it could offer quite the punch off the pine.

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