I am not sure how to start this off other than by saying this: the Chicago Bulls are a disaster. They are not disastrous in terms of pure mediocrity or ineptitude despite their recent blowout loss to the Charlotte Hornets, a team that greatly exemplifies both of those qualities. The Bulls, rather, are a flat-out disappointment.
Through the halfway point of the season, the Bulls sit at 22-26. This places them just out of the play-in tournament at the eleventh seed in the Eastern Conference. For every decisive win against a juggernaut like the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets or the Philadelphia 76ers, there is a head-scratching loss against the Hornets, Indiana Pacers or San Antonio Spurs. This team was supposed to have a breakout season, so the question remains: how did we get here?
The Bulls’ big three of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vučević were supposed to do most of the heavy lifting. Sure, their quick first round exit last year to the Bucks was concerning, but there’s reason to believe these three All-Star caliber talents will be able to win together, right? Well, that’s not been shown.
A quick look at the statistics for each doesn’t ring any alarms. DeRozan and LaVine combine for almost 50 points per game and Vučević adds 17 ppg and 11 rpg on top of that. It just seems as though these three still cannot bring the best out of each other consistently. This is made abundantly clear with the poor performance from their supporting cast.
The front office only added Andre Drummond and Goran Dragić to a list of youngsters like Ayo Dosunmu, Javonte Green, and Coby White on the bench. There hasn’t been much consistency out of this group whether due to lack of experience or discipline. The previous concerns of sub-par three-point shooting and perimeter defense have been increasingly and embarrassingly on display, demonstrated by their second to last ranking in 3PM per game and allowing a 71-point performance from the Cleveland Cavaliers Donovan Mitchell earlier this month.
Not All May Be Lost
Still though, it’s not all doom and gloom for these Chicago Bulls. One of the key assets to this team was supposed to be point guard Lonzo Ball, who is starting to return to some on-court activities after sitting out over a year. Ball has the tools needed to jumpstart the offense and provide some much needed resistance on defense. The Bulls still have DeRozan, LaVine, and Vučević, who are all capable of all-time performances on any given night regardless of their current play. Head coach Billy Donovan needs to focus on getting more out of his role players. I think he could be the man for the job with his experience at all levels of the sports.
When you factor in Vučević’s expiring deal along with DeRozan’s potential huge contract extension this offseason however, those glimmers of hope start to fade. The season is getting dangerously close to being unsalvageable and time is running out with this core. It may be time for executive Artūras Karnišovas and the front office to stop preaching “continuity” and finally accept defeat. Whether that means leveraging their young guys like Alex Caruso and Dosunmu in trade deals or blowing up the big three entirely, there’s not any way the current makeup of this team can be maintained long term.
The Near Future
The bottom line here is that the vision sold to us by the Bulls front office continues to fall apart right before our very eyes. Conversations may sprout up regarding this team’s future without a late season turnaround. This franchise has not won a playoff series since 2015, and the desire to win from ownership and fans will only continue to swell as time goes on. Something needs to change in Chicago sooner rather than later.
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