The Bulls made it clear after the All-Star break that you shouldn’t pay attention to them outside of their win-loss record. So taking a look at the time since, they’ve ‘won too much’ and find themselves firmly in 8th place of the Tankathon, a half-game ‘ahead’ of the Knicks (who they play tonight).
Given how the season is gone, the Bulls will win that game. Stephen Noh had a great column at The Athletic today about how the Bulls tank has failed in that they’ve done unreasonably well, a 13-5 record,against the other 8 shit-show franchises.
Noh mentions how the Bulls did the wrong moves when it came to intentionally losing...sorry, I should say ‘player development and #BullsCulture’...and they did them too late. They outright mothballed Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday which was too blatant not to get admonished from the league, meanwhile other teams were more successful in playing garbage lineups to end games (and in games against fellow awfulness) to make sure that while development may be happening in the first forty or so minutes, the contest was ultimately lost. The Bulls have caught on to this a bit more in the past week, but even looking as horrible as possible still had them beating the Grizzlies.
What’s worse is that since they have clearly shown their intentions in throwing away the final stretch of the season, the wins they do get aren’t even useful:
The Bulls should be happy when they beat teams that are trying to win if it happens via their young core playing well. They’ve had exactly one of those types of wins in their last 25 games: a fiercely contested game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 9, when Zach LaVine took over and led the team to a 114-113 win. The only other wins in that 25-game stretch have come against the Atlanta Hawks (twice), Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.
Read that again. The Bulls have had one meaningful win through the last third of their entire season.
After the season is over, the Bulls are going to try to spin these meaningless wins by saying it was a good thing, that it showed development. Given that most people have tuned out this team already, some might believe it. But don’t. They were great against the tankers and legitimately solid with Nikola Mirotic, but they had a terrible record overall against the 21 competitive teams and have won only three games against that group since they sat out and eventually traded Mirotic.
Indeed, this is pretty much all bad. The team isn’t nearly good enough to be competitive against the teams that try, their ‘Big’ ‘Three’ is all hurt (though the degree of which they are is up to question if they’re just intentionally holding them out, totally cool and normal), and the performances in these games - like Valentine scoring his career high over the weekend , or Cam Payne not falling down and thus being called capable - are rendered meaningless given the circumstances.
Tanking sucks, and the Bulls suck at tanking. Though it means at least we don’t have to hear about it anymore. We can stop pretending to be enthusiastic about losses, I find it distasteful and disingenuous to be that excited about anything concerning this team! It’s best to assume the typical Bulls fan position: dread, knowing that GarPax won’t get ridiculous luck to aid their PATH, and will have to instead rely on their own aptitude.