As the NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching, Anthony Davis heated up the rumor mill when his agent announced that Davis was not interested in signing an extension to stay in New Orleans. Since that report, there has been more rumors stating that one of Davis’ preferred destinations would be to go to Los Angeles to play along side LeBron James with hopes of winning a championship.
Rich Paul to ESPN on a preferred destination for Anthony Davis: “Anthony wants to be traded to a team that allows him the chance to win consistently and compete for a championship.”
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 28, 2019
There are other teams like the Phildelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics that will most likely put forth their best offers to the Pelicans. However, the Lakers have a lot of young talent in Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac, etc. that could make the Lakers the best trade partner for the Pelicans. According to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times, Lonzo would not like to play for the Pelicans and would prefer to go to a team without an established point guard. What two teams were specifically named in this report? The Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks.
Lonzo Ball would rather wind up in Chicago or New York than New Orleans, but the Pelicans see a great fit with the young point guard, sources told me and @BA_Turner. From last night: https://t.co/x8RjDCOCuF
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) January 30, 2019
Knowing that Lonzo prefers to play in Chicago, should the Bulls make an effort to land him in a three-team trade? Let’s take a look at the Bulls current situation and what Lonzo can bring to the organization:
The first thing that jumps out about Lonzo Ball is his size. Lonzo is listed at 6’6″, 190 lbs which is beyond ideal for a point guard. He plays hard on both ends of the court and is extremely athletic for his size. He doesn’t have much of a mid-range game, but he has no trouble with attacking and finishing at the rim. His jump shot and overall offensive game is a work in progress. However, he is seeing some improvement in his shooting percentages this year. From the field, Lonzo is shooting 40 percent this year, giving him a four percent improvement from last season. His three point percentage has improved by two percent, which isn’t much, but it’s still improvement.
To compare what Lonzo can do with what the Bulls organization already has, here are his stats paired up with Kris Dunn’s for the 2018-2019 season:
*All stats are according to basketball-reference.com.
As you can see, those are two pretty similar players on the offensive side of the ball. There is the possibility that the Bulls would have to give up Kris Dunn in a trade to acquire Lonzo Ball. If not, they would essentially have two of the same players occupying the starting and backup point guard spot (if Dunn isn’t traded). So, what makes Lonzo Ball different from Dunn and what makes him deserve some serious consideration for the Bulls to acquire his talents?
Lonzo Ball is more of a true, pass first point guard. He is an excellent passer and always does a great job of finding open looks for his teammates. Lonzo also has excellent vision and is constantly pushing the ball at a fast pace. Dunn pushes the ball too, but Lonzo will look to set up his teammates in transition, instead of taking questionable shots like Dunn does at times. Having a point guard like Lonzo would help the development of Lauri Markkanen. There are times when Lauri looks lost playing under Jim Boylen, but Lonzo can be beneficial to Lauri by finding the big man some high percentage shots more frequently. The same can be said about Wendell Carter Jr. as well. Lonzo would be able to feed him in the paint and get him high percentage shots at the rim.
Another benefit of acquiring Lonzo Ball is his age. Lonzo is just 21-years-old and won’t be turning 22 until next season. Kris Dunn is 24-years-old and will be turning 25 before the end of this season. Lonzo Ball has a much higher ceiling than Kris Dunn right now. Lonzo hasn’t reached his full potential yet and there is a chance that he might not ever be able to, but the Bulls would have the opportunity to “buy low” on his potential. If Lonzo turns into the star point guard that he was projected to be coming out of UCLA, then this move would fill a hole on the roster that has been there since Derrick Rose had multiple knee injuries.
There has been plenty of times where Kris Dunn plays like the point guard of the future. However, there has also been plenty of times where he plays inconsistently. The end of the 2018-2019 season will be his third season in the NBA. He was in a tough situation in Minnesota, but he’s had every opportunity to show what he can do in Chicago. The inconsistencies and random flashes of brilliance make it hard to judge Dunn as a player. However, it seems like Dunn is destined to be a backup point guard on a really good team, instead of being the starter and the guy leading the flow of the offense.
The Bulls organization is in a very dark place right now. The rebuild seems like it’s going to be never ending and the team has been flooded with injuries this season. The front office has made a ton of questionable decisions and the future isn’t looking so bright because of it. Anthony Davis is a Chicago born superstar that has no desire to play for his hometown team. That alone should speak volumes about the current state of the organization. To be honest, no star free agents are going to want to sign with the Bulls any time soon. If the Bulls acquire Lonzo Ball and he turns into the point guard he is projected to be, that can help make Chicago a more appealing destination down the road. Plus, a lineup of Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, Zion Williamson/R.J. Barrett, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. could be really fun to watch.
If the Bulls acquire Lonzo Ball and there is a major stall in his development or he just simply doesn’t improve, then the Bulls are back to having a hole on their roster that has haunted them for quite some time. There isn’t a ton of risk in acquiring Lonzo Ball. Since the Bulls are going to struggle with getting top tier free agents to sign with them, they should seriously consider making a move like this. It’s one of those “boom or bust” moves that unfortunately, due to their current situation, the Bulls can afford to make.
Follow Sean on Twitter–