If The Last Dance documentary, which came out earlier this year, showed us anything about the Chicago Bulls as currently constructed, it proved just how far they are from the glory that they enjoyed during the 1990s when they raised six championship banners. The Bulls have missed the postseason in three of the past four seasons, and while they have some solid young players on the roster, they certainly don't have superstar cornerstones like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to build around.
So, how do the Bulls build back up into the type of contender that they used to be? The way Pippen sees it, his former franchise will have to build through the draft, as he doesn't see Chicago as a prime destination for free agents.
"I believe that you have to do well through the draft," Pippen said during an appearance on CBS Sports' Tiki & Tierney on Tuesday. "I think that the Bulls' success in the past came through the draft with myself, Michael, Horace Grant. We were the original champions of that city, and most of us came through the draft. I just think they're going to have to be able to find the right talent through the draft. It doesn't look like Chicago is a destination for free agents. It's never been the way that they've been built, so I don't expect that to happen. But I expect them to somehow be able to get something through the draft in the future and be able to maintain those players to get back to a competitive level."
Pippen isn't wrong, as Chicago doesn't have a great history when it comes to landing top free agents. The Bulls' best teams -- the '90s squads led by Jordan and Pippen, and the teams from the last decade led by Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Jimmy Butler -- were built through the draft. In Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr., and Lauri Markkanen, Chicago has a few promising young pieces, but none have necessarily established themselves as a top option on a potential playoff team. In Markkanen specifically, Pippen wants to see more out of the sharp-shooting forward moving forward.
"I think he definitely teased me a lot in terms of his first year, but last year was pretty much a year off," Pippen said of Markkanen. "The expectations are still very high for him, but next season is going to be a big year for him, and he has to come out and really have a big season because I think this is a contract year for him coming up and I think it's important for him to establish himself as a consistent player in this game."
The 2020 NBA Draft is set for October 16, and the Bulls will have a solid pick thanks to their poor performance this season. The Bulls are one of the eight teams that didn't travel to Orlando for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season so at this point they're fully focused on the future. Between now and October they will have plenty of time to do their homework, which is good because it's extremely important that they make a solid selection if they want to take a substantial step forward in the coming seasons.