Bulls Banking On Markkanen To Attract Marquee Talent To Chicago

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In case you missed the news, Lauri Markkanen was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team.

This was a good rookie class, it matters that Markkanen still found a way to stand out. Hopefully, he’ll continue to stand out in the near future. For the sake of the Bulls, he probably has to.

The Bulls have done a better job of drafting than most teams since the Michael Jordan era ended. However, that drafting success has led to just five playoff series wins and one conference finals trip over the last 20 years.

Could some of the organizational failure be blamed on not retaining or developing some of their talented draft picks such as Elton Brand, Rot Artest, Jamaal Crawford, Tyson Chandler and Jimmy Butler? Sure.

But more blame should be placed on John Paxson and Gar Forman’s inability to lure big name, game-changing free agents to Chicago.

Before I come down too hard on the Bulls brass, at least we’ve seen them try. From Kobe, to T-Mac, to Lebron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh, and most recently Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls spent the better part of a decade doing all they could to add franchise-altering stars.

Those pursuits eventually ended with Bulls investing a combined $165M to Ben Wallace, Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol, all three of whom were past their prime.

That’s actually #bad.

Now that the Bulls missed out on a top 3 pick in the draft, it appears more likely than ever that the Bulls will need to add their #1 player of the future via free agency. So… how will they go about succeeding this time around?

Enter this guy:

In order to attract top talent in this league, you need to cultivate young talent first. If the Lebron-Wade-Bosh free agency happened in 2011 instead of 2010, I don’t think the Bulls come up empty with Derrick Rose coming off of an MVP campaign. If Rose never gets injured, Carmelo Anthony is probably a Bull (turns out that miss was a blessing, but still).

Before Rose, the Bulls didn’t have the young talent to be attractive. The Luol Deng-Ben Gordon-Kirk Hinrich core was cute, but they weren’t, like, HOT.

Lauri Markkanen though? Different story.

In all seriousness, the Bulls have a great opportunity to supplement their current core next month with two first-round picks. The new backcourt of Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine has real potential, but there are chemistry concerns and neither are 100% locks to be around for the long haul.

Markkanen is the key. By 2020, when the Bulls are ready to take the next step, free agents are going to notice the 7-foot swiss army knife putting up 22 and 10 every night.

Will that be enough to finally get the Bulls over the recruiting hump? It’s too soon to tell. But history tells us the Bulls will give it their all one way or the other.