Bulls Bring Back Hard-Nosed Wing Defender on 2-Year Deal

Getty Billy Donovan

The Chicago Bulls came to an agreement on a two-year deal with wing defender Javonte Green on Friday, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Green came to the Bulls as a part of the deal with the Boston Celtics that also landed Chicago Daniel Theis. If you’d ask Bulls fans–and maybe even management–which of the former Celtics they’d preferred to have retained–if they could only have one–the answer would have been Theis.

Unfortunately, Theis signed a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets, but Green’s return is still a major boost for a Bulls second unit that is clearly taking on a distinct identity.


The Bulls’ Starters and Bench Players Might Have Two Different Identities

When you look at the presumed starters: Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic, you see a group with a high ceiling on the offensive end, but some concerns about defensive prowess.

All 5 starters ranked amongst the 50 worst defensive ratings in the NBA among players who played at least 50 games during the 2020-21 season.

While this can be deceiving because there are a lot of factors, there is some validity. Without a question, all 5 guys will have to establish a serious commitment to being better on that end of the floor. Ball and Williams figure to be average to above-average defenders, based on a mix of previous history, size and athleticism. The other three are more worrisome in this regard, though reports have been favorable about LaVine’s defense as a part of Team USA.

In any case, they will not struggle to score points, but trading baskets isn’t the objective.

The bench seems to be built in the opposite. Alex Caruso is one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders. He does a great job defending pick-and-roll, which is the look that gave the Bulls fits last season. Troy Brown Jr. established himself as a player with a very high upside on the defensive end. If he can be more consistent from three, he could be one of the better three-and-D options in the Eastern Conference. Remember, he’s still just 22 years old.

Green hangs his hat on defense. His aggressiveness and explosive athleticism will help to make the Bulls’ second unit a strong team in transition. There’s also newly signed center Tony Bradley, who has some upside as a rim protector. Chicago still has some room to add to the unit as they determine what they will do with Lauri Markkanen, who has expressed his desire to play elsewhere next season.

While Coby White is not a great defender, he may be the only player on the second unit capable of getting his own shot. Because of the lack of playmakers, the second unit will likely be a scrappy, defensive-minded bunch that can change the identity of the game when the starters are taking a rest. That’s not a bad concept, but both units will need to take a step toward well-roundedness for the Bulls to be at their best.


Green Fits Well With the Bulls

Green didn’t play a ton with the Bulls, but he made an impact with his minutes. Per 36 minutes, Green averaged 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.1 blocks and he made 37.5% of his threes. Given more of an opportunity, Green can be an effective spark plug, and he’s the kind of player winning teams need to do some of the dirty work that is often the difference between winning and losing close basketball games.

The 28-year-old has had a circuitous route to the NBA, and he has played for Montenegro’s national team (where he has dual citizenship) but it is good to see him getting some stability and a free-agent payday.

 

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