The Chicago Bulls have made a trade. That sentence is not typed very often.
Since the Bulls are ultra conservative when it comes to utilizing the trade market as a means of upgrading in talent, when they actually do make a move, it tends to catch me off-guard. It's usually a financially motivated one, so in this case I'm just happy for the sake of an actual trade taking place. Trades are exciting, ya know?
On the surface, the Tony Snell for Michael Carter-Williams swap seems like a rather inconsequential deal. Snell's had about a handful of impressive games / moments during his time in Chicago, but you'd have to be an awfully attentive observer to see any potential. On the other hand, he's a career 35 percent three-point shooter, and even a casual observer could tell you that that's worth something.
Then there's Carter-Williams, whose best case scenario, to this point, would be to fully realize his inner Shaun Livingston, and morph into a deadly bench weapon that feasts on smaller 2nd unit point guards. But that's best-case. Michael Carter-Williams is no where near the caliber of a player like Livingston. Hell, it's not clear Carter-Williams is any better than Jerian Grant or Spencer Dinwiddie (either or both could find themselves in Hoffman Estates to start the season).
It's kind of an interesting trade in the sense that, should both players become viable bench pieces, then everything probably shook out pretty favorably. Cause as of right now both guys are the 9th or 10th man on their respective rosters. Last season, Snell was out of the rotation by March, and Carter-Williams' didn't even play the final 22 games of the season for the Bucks after hip surgery. It's a move that's living on the margins, which is an area that the Bulls typically do well in.
However, as many have been quick to point out: Carter-Williams is an atrocious shooter. I'm not sure non-shooting guards are the market you want to corner. From an offensive perspective, he doesn't complement or fit this roster. Like, at all. I've struggled to come up with any lineup combinations featuring MCW that have any sort of appeal offensively. Plus, last year, his assist rate (26.6 percent) and usage rate (21.3 percent) were below his career marks while his turnover rate (19.6 percent) went up. It's not a stretch to say he's one of the worst offensive point guards in the game, as evidenced by his -1.73 ORPM, which was good for 65th out of 77 point guards last year.
Defensively, MCW's advanced stats actually look pretty good. Though we can likely attribute a good chunk of that to posting block and steal rates above 2 percent last year. He's actually the only point guard to be able to stake that claim, per Basketball Reference's Play Index. He's easily the best defensive point guard the Bulls have though. That's no side-note, either. The Bulls are poised to be a disaster (again) on defense this season. Shoring up that area at the point of attack was a must.
Outside of that, I'm just shocked that the Bulls actually got anything for Snell. I really can't think of a less memorable player in terms of on-court impact. In that, his presence was hardly ever felt. Asking him to do anything more than shoot from a standstill is asking a lot. He's over-matched in basically every single facet of the game offensively. Oh, and I know about his plus/minus numbers. Trust me, I know. Long story short, color me a skeptic of those numbers.
And on defense, there seems to be this growing perception that Snell was good. I would contend that if he were in fact good then Tom Thibodeau would've given him a longer leash and Fred Hoiberg would've leaned on him more. They certainly weren't playing him for his offense, you know? Both coaches, in their own unique way, needed and expected more from Snell, and he wasn't able to deliver.
There is one final takeaway I have from this trade: the Bulls aren't very good at drafting anymore. At least, they're not as renowned as they once were. In consecutive drafts, they took Marquis Teague, Snell, and then they traded up for Doug McDermott (with two picks that wound up being Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris, but there were others available too) . That right there is how teams find themselves (unintentionally) in the lottery .
It's getting harder and harder for the Bulls to ‘like their guys’ because there's not many of them left. Teague's out of the league, Snell's gone, Erik Murphy and Cam Bairstow never stood a chance. Slowly but surely, they're becoming a build through free agency model. Build just enough excitement to create a buzz and then inevitably disappoint.
We've yet to see a game of this current iteration of the Bulls, so I'll give it some time before I go full hot take-y (including Bulls-WhiteSox parallels), but taking some parting shots at a failing front office is something I'm always here for.