The Chicago Bulls have a new starting small forward in Justin Holiday. Judging from his preseason performances, Justin Holiday could become the next star of the Chicago Bulls.
Someone on the Chicago Bulls has to score. Guard Zach LaVine is reportedly progressing well from his ACL tear and should make his Bulls’ debut in a couple of months. A healthy LaVine would clearly be the Bulls’ first option on offense.
Until Zach LaVine is cleared to play, the Bulls have to rely on the scoring to come from elsewhere. If the preseason has offered any indication, Justin Holiday is primed to be the Bulls’ go-to scorer.
Having a featured role in the Bulls’ offense was not what Justin Holiday envisioned. The Bulls signed Holiday to a two-year agreement in free-agency (courtesy of the New York Times).
Holiday’s signing comes a season after the Bulls trading the wing player to the New York Knicks. He was part of deal which sent Derrick Rose to the Knicks (courtesy of Sports Illustrated) for Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez. Holiday became a revelation for the Knicks, averaging 7.7 points and 2.7 rebounds a game. The 20 minutes he averaged, playing all 82 games was the highest of his career. Justin Holiday solidified himself as a role player.
When Justin Holiday returned to the Chicago Bulls, it was expected for him to compete for minutes at small forward. However, Holiday has emerged as solid contributor in the Bulls’ offense.
Having a better understanding of the Bulls’ playbook has been beneficial for Justin Holiday. He has had to develop the mentality of a scorer in his second act with the Bulls. Holiday credits his first stint (courtesy of Yahoo Sports) with the Bulls having prepared him for this season.
“I can’t say I thought it would be like that on a night-to-night basis. I mean I knew I would have more responsibility, more to do offensively. When I was here last time, with the guys who were able to score, that’s what I’m able to do, play with guys who can get buckets and still be effective. So I have the same mentality as I did.”
When he played with offensive-minded talents such as Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, and Pau Gasol. Now Justin Holiday has to do some of the things they did with the Bulls.
For the Chicago Bulls, Justin Holiday will have go through screens to get open looks. The Bulls’ offense asks for players to be comfortable shooting in rhythm. Holiday has improved his outside shot from his last stint with the Bulls. It is good enough to occasionally draw double teams.
Justin Holiday led the Chicago Bulls in scoring during the preseason, putting up over 17 points per game. In the six games he is proving that he is capable of being the Bulls’ go-to scorer. At age 28, the question is how high is Holiday’s ceiling?
The Bulls officially named Justin Holiday the opening game starter a day after their fifth preseason game, according to CBS Sports. Given his strong play on both ends of the floor, the designation was well-deserved.
Being the Bulls’ starter will give Holiday more playing time and the opportunity to take more shots. His statistics should increase with more scoring chances.
Justin Holiday has the potential to be a legitimate starter on a playoff contender. At his peak, he could be to the Chicago Bulls what Avery Bradley was to the Boston Celtics — a starter, with the ability to elevate his game to garner some all-star considerations.
The Chicago Bulls play in the Eastern Conference, where all-stars are going to be hard to distinguish. If Justin Holiday can help the Bulls have a respectable record leading up to the all-star break, he could be added to the roster.
The Chicago Bulls hope that they have a late-bloomer in Justin Holiday. Thus far he has proven to be a revelation to them.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]