Chicago Bulls: Lauri Markkanen and Coby White are key to success

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan changed the starting lineup to bench Coby White and Lauri Markkanen after the all-star break. Both of these former starters are vital pieces to the Bulls’ chances of making the playoffs this season because of their ability to score.

Lauri Markkanen and Coby White are big keys to the Chicago Bulls’ success in 2021.

Coby White

White was moved to the bench on March 14th against the Toronto Raptors. He was moved with Wendell Carter Jr. at the time due to inefficient performance with the starting group. White never had a positive plus/minus with Zach LaVine.

In his first game off the bench, White scored 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists in a win against the Toronto Raptors.

"“I can’t speak for everyone else, but I needed to grow up a little bit, letting shots affect how I play,” said White. “I gotta compete on both ends of the court, so, yeah, it was a learning experience for me. Just a challenge, accept a challenge, and continue to move on and do what I can to help my team win,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times."

White only started in one game in his rookie season but started every game to begin his sophomore season. His inability to fill the void as a facilitator and be a strong perimeter defender forced his demotion. Tomas Satoransky satisfies those requirements to a better degree.

White’s new role on the bench should serve as a new opportunity to dramatically help the Bulls. White is a scorer and has proved to do so against starting NBA point guards. Against opponents’ second rotations and serving as the first option in the offense, he should be able to replicate or even improve this season’s numbers.

Season: 14.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 41.1 field goal percentage, 34.6 three-point percentage, 31.4 minutes per game.

Bench (10 games): 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 37.7 field goal percentage, 28.8 three-point percentage, 24.9 minutes per game.

White needs to embrace his role and use his supporting cast to elevate the Bulls’ team play when they are without LaVine and Nikola Vucevic in the lineup.

Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen was demoted to the bench on March 29 against the Golden State Warriors. The benching came one game after playing in the starting lineup with Vucevic. Markkanen’s awkward fit in the offense with Vucevic is a waste for his ability to score since his shot attempts decreased.

In his first game off the bench, Markkanen recorded 13 points, six rebounds, and one assist, and buried five of nine shots from the field in 22 minutes.

"“I know I’m a starter in this league,” said Markkanen “multiple times” after his first game coming off the bench, according to CBS Sports."

It’s well known by Bulls fans now that Markkanen and the Bulls failed to meet a contract extension before the season. Markkanen was also attached to numerous trade rumors with the Bulls’ infatuation with acquiring Lonzo Ball before the trade deadline.

Similar to White, Markkanen is a scorer with plenty of tricks up his sleeve. The power dynamic between LaVine and Vucevic on offense is too much to allow Markkanen into the starting lineup. Plus, like White, Markkanen is an atrocious defender.

Season: 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 48.2 field goal percentage, 38.3 three-point percentage, 29 minutes per game.

Bench (four games): 10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 55 field goal percentage, 45 three-point percentage, 22.3 minutes per game.

Opposite of White, Markkanen has been quite efficient coming off the bench which has benefitted the Bulls. In the last two wins for the Bulls against the Indiana Pacers and the Brooklyn Nets, Markkanen has recorded 15 and eight points, respectively.

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Markkanen and White could make an excellent offensive duo off the bench for the Bulls. Defensive-minded players like Daniel Theis, Troy Brown Jr., and Garrett Temple will help them cover that side of the ball. It’s up to Markkanen and White to live up to their expectation of being solid role players to help the Bulls make a playoff push. We’ll find out soon enough.