Resting solid veteran players in the name of “player development” was bound to lead to some really ugly basketball down the homestretch. The game against Brooklyn on Monday night was the manifestation of what we all knew was coming.
With Zach LaVine strategically sitting in the first game of a back-to-back, the Chicago Bulls in an 87-point performance shot 35.5 percent from the field, their lowest shooting percentage of the entire season. They were 15-for-23 from the free-throw line (tenth worst mark of the season) and 6-for-21 from 3-point land (26.1 percent). Their offensive rating in this game was 85.2 and their true shooting percentage was 42.2 percent. Ugly lines were everywhere: Bobby Portis was 4-for-11, Cameron Payne was 1-for-10 (with his only field goal coming on the Bulls last possession of the game), Justin Holiday (re-inserted back into the rotation to start for LaVine) was 1-for-11, and Denzel Valentine finished 4-for-16.
According to The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry, the two teams combined to miss 35 layups in this game with the Bulls accounting for 24 of those misses. Below is Valentine, who John Paxson has already evaluated as a ‘good rotational player’.
First half of Bulls-Nets enters the bottom 10 game I've ever seen in my life. This is some truly awful basketball. pic.twitter.com/LqntjIkTY9— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) February 27, 2018
This was all against the Brooklyn Nets, who came into the game on an eight-game losing streak.
Great for the tank, but not so great for player development outside of a solid effort from Kris Dunn (23 points) and a redemptive night from Lauri Markkanen who poured in 19 points on 8-for-18 from the field after scoring 6 points total in his last two games.
With player development as a mentioned priority right now, experimenting with new lineups is going to inevitably lead to ugly basketball. Head coach Fred Hoiberg said little went right for the Bulls offensively Nets.
We have a lot of new pieces. We’re not getting into an offense very well. So the best thing we have is our transition basketball. We weren’t in that enough.
In case you didn’t see probably the ugliest aspect of a forgettable game, Nets rookie Jarrett Allen threw down a poster dunk that made Markkanen look like a fool.
JARRETT ALLEN BODIED LAURI pic.twitter.com/VRZ4Mui01Q— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 27, 2018
This Nets game was reminiscent of those during the Bulls 3-20 start to the season when the team trotted out Paul Zipser, Cristiano Felicio, and Quincy Pondexter for significant minutes and were mostly getting blown out in games.
Like how Hoiberg told Jerian Grant last night not to bother checking in for garbage time, the Bulls have draft position at the forefront of their minds and indicating these are entirely garbage games.