This NBA offseason was one of the most eventful in recent memory. A number of high-profile players, like Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and many others switched teams through trades and freshly inked contracts. The Chicago Bulls took part in the whirlwind of activity, finally deciding it was time to part ways with their star Jimmy Butler in exchange for a fresh, young wave of talent.
|Chicago Bulls Receive||Minnesota Timberwolves Receive|
|Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and 7th pick in 2017 Draft (Lauri Markkanen)||Jimmy Butler and 16th pick in 2017 Draft (Justin Patton)|
At the time of the trade, many Chicago Bulls fans were upset with the deal. Kris Dunn was coming off of a completely disappointing rookie campaign, Zach LaVine just recently tore his ACL and doesn’t play defense, and Lauri Markkanen was one of the less exciting players in the draft, not to mention the Bulls also had to trade away their 16th overall pick in the draft as part of the deal. But as this season has gone along, it’s looking like the Bulls actually did pretty good.
Kris Dunn had a terrible rookie season, but if you dive a bit deeper into his situation, it makes sense. Dunn had the misfortune of being a rookie on a Tom Thibodeau team. Thibodeau is a coach that requires perfection and attention to detail from his players at all times, and it’s pretty clear that Dunn can be sloppy at times. Because of that Thibodeau didn’t really give him a chance to play. But it’s inevitable that rookies will makes mistakes, and that’s the only way they can really grow as players, by making mistakes.
Dunn is often making mistakes on the court, as advertised by his .394 FG% and 3.3 turnovers per game, but he is also a terror on the defensive end, averaging 1.9 steals per contest. And while he has had his fair share of messy games so far this season, he has also had games where he looked terrific both offensively and defensively. Oftentimes it takes NBA players four or five years before they finally start reaching their potential, and considering that, Dunn appears to be right on track to huge success in the NBA.
Zach LaVine is almost ready to return from his ACL surgery, and by all accounts, he has looked fantastic in practice. An ACL tear is a scary thing for Bulls fans, but with proper care, he can come back stronger than ever. LaVine is very young, but already has established himself as an elite scorer in the NBA, and should be in the All-Star running every year for the Bulls. If he can come back the same player he was, while also improving his defense, the Bulls will have won the Butler trade.
Although some were disappointed with the selection of Lauri Markkanen in the draft, he has been terrific all season. With multiple Bulls’ power forwards missing time early in the season, Markkanen flourished, and the idea of a LaVine/Markkanen pick and pop is a dream come true.
So it seems like the Bulls got a lot of good out of this trade, but how did the Minnesota Timberwolves do? So far Jimmy Butler is averaging 17.4 points per game as the third option on his team. Maybe not quite what they expected, but the Timberwolves are winning. They’re currently fourth in a stacked Western Conference, and look like they’re ready for a playoff run. Butler has become the leader of the Timberwolves, and Thibodeau’s secret weapon in crunch time. It looks like the Timberwolves are making the jump from good to great, which is what they wanted.
As of right now, it looks like both teams won this trade, but only time will tell who has truly come out on top.
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