CHICAGO -- Inside the Advocate Center where the Chicago Bulls held their media day, the theme of the day was playoffs. From coach Jim Boylen down to new additions Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young, the Bulls made it clear that the goal for the 2019-20 season is to make the postseason.
It may seem like a lofty goal for a team that, a season ago, fired their coach and had a near player mutiny within the first week the new coach took over. Oh, and not to mention, they only won 22 games. It's true, it won't be nearly as difficult to make the playoffs in the East as the West, and the Bulls aren't on any preseason list to make the playoffs. However, Chicago rebuilt its roster this offseason through free agency and the draft, while returning some talented young pieces that have established some chemistry.
"Our goal was to keep our young core together and add veteran skill level, toughness and leadership," Boylen said. "We wanted a roster that was more versatile, played the same way even with injury and we wanted guys who care about winning. Now we have to become a team, and that's our goal. Our goal for the season is to make the playoffs, and every day to prepare like we're a playoff team."
That same sentiment was felt with each player that addressed the media. While there was talk of individual goals, -- Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine both want to play 82 games this season -- most everyone echoed what Boylen said. LaVine, who was one of only 14 players last season to average at least 23 points, four rebounds and four assists, harped on team success bringing individual accolades, like being an All-Star.
"I think everything comes with winning, and I want that to be more important," LaVine said. "If we're in that position where we're winning and can make the playoffs, I think just by the way we are on the court that's going to be enough validation for us being in the [All-Star] game."
The Bulls haven't finished with a winning record since the 2015-16 season, but entering training camp this year there's a heightened sense of optimism about the upcoming season, as well as the future of the franchise as a whole. It's something that, despite only being with the team for a short period of time last season after being traded from Washington, Otto Porter Jr. has recognized.
"A lot has changed, the mentality of this organization has changed," Porter said. "Since I've come here I think what we want to do here has changed. With that being said, I think everyone is on the right page. With all the talent we have, we want to do something special here."
Chicago has a lot of young, talented pieces on the roster, and the veteran leadership Boylen spoke about will come from guys like Young and Satoransky who are the oldest players on the roster. Young is known across the league as a vocal leader whose effort on defense trickles down to his teammates, while Satoransky -- who will be turning 28 at the start of the regular season -- has experience winning on the international level as recently as the FIBA World Cup this summer while playing for the Czech Republic.
Having the playoffs in mind is a boost of confidence for Bulls fans who have seen this franchise toil at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for several years now, but that's easier said than done. Just because the East is a little easier to squeak into the playoffs, doesn't mean Chicago is going to wake up and magically become a playoff team.
Last season the Bulls ranked 29th in the league in offensive rating, 27th in opponent field goal percentage and 26th in opponent 3-point percentage. They addressed some of those weaknesses with the addition of Young, and returning players like LaVine, Markkanen and Porter is a plus, but Chicago will have a lot of work to do to get back in the postseason. The players and coaches said all the right things on media day, but making progress toward those goals will be the next step for Boylen and the Bulls.