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The Bulls ‘big’ ‘three’ somehow lost to the friggin’ Cavaliers

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when you think it can’t get any lower, here we are praising Wayne Selden

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

It couldn’t possibly get worse than losing at home to the Atlanta Hawks, could it? While losing to a well-coached and an ever-promising squad like the Hawks is less than ideal, it’s somewhat tolerable.

Unlike, say, losing to the fucking Cavs, like the Bulls just did on Sunday afternoon.

Firstly, we’re talking about a team with a historically awful defense, one even a putrid Bulls offense has managed to outscore by 37 points in their previous three meetings, all wins for Chicago.

Second, Cleveland’s best young prospect, Collin Sexton, is inefficient with no clue how to actually be a point guard.

Third, the Cavs only recently started its rebuild post the second LeBron James era. They lost him for nothing, unlike the Bulls, who (supposedly) boast a young team filled with talent post the Jimmy Butler trade.

Last but certainly not least, again: it’s the fucking Cavs.

But was it all bad? Mostly, yes.

Kris Dunn continued his stretch of bad performances, scoring only eight points (2-of-8 shooting) in 34 minutes, and breaking the backboard on his three-point attempts.

It wasn’t much better for Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine, who struggled to influence the game beyond their inefficient volume scoring.

While we’ve become accustom to rarely consuming games where all three fire at once, given their competition, all three performing this poorly has to be of concern one-and-half years into a rebuild.

Desperately looking for anything good department: Wayne Selden

Thankfully, Wayne Selden showed up. Though he may not come with the same level of prestige as other prospects on the roster, the wing showcased his all-round ability. The line: 15 points (6-of-8 shooting, 3-of-4 from three), six rebounds, three assists, one block, one steal, plus-7 in 38 minutes.

Not bad for a player who was barely in the rotation only one game before. Without Chandler Hutchison, who will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a fractured toe, coach Jim Boylen had no choice but to lean on Selden. And if his performance against the Cavaliers is merely a precursor of what’s to come, the Bulls will be able to cover the hole created at small forward in the near term.

While the numbers do a sound job of highlighting the versatility within Selden’s game, what it fails to show is the controlled manner in which the wing plays with. Take for example this this nice transition assist. After gathering the rebound and leading the break, Selden pushes the ball up the floor and runs into a jump pass that rewards a hard-running Bobby Portis.

While the pass will be recorded as an assist, there’s no way to quantify the subtle mid-air move that helped create the basket. Collecting the ball in flight and faking out wide, Selden signalling a pass to LaVine forced Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman to run out to the perimeter. As he did, Selden found his streaming teammate at the rim for an easy two points.

A simple ball fake hints a player who understands how to create basic opportunities for others, a trait this Bulls team sorely lacks. It also needs players who are capable of making basic plays for themselves.

While you could argue Selden was nicely assisted by Robin Lopez on the screen, it was the wing’s ability to change direction, maintain his dribble, and shoot off the bounce that created these two points.

Though perhaps unappealing, this midrange jump shot was the right decision at the right time. As was this huge three late in the fourth quarter.

Think about those who have played ahead of Selden in recent weeks. Down two points with 1:08 left to play, can we imagine Hutchison or Shaquille Harrison moving without the ball into position for a catch-and shoot three and firing with no hesitation?

Without the confidence or skill to make such a shot, an open three would’ve devolved into a ball-stopping touch that likely ends with a contested driving attempt or another kickout to a playmaker deep in the clock for an inefficient heave.

These basic plays from Selden are exactly that. It does feel somewhat trivial to be isolating catch-and-shoot attempts and nifty passes we’d expect almost all players to make. In that sense, what Selden is doing may seem rudimentary. And it is. But that’s why he needs to play more.

Relative to most depth pieces around the league, Selden may just be another body. For the Bulls, however, a team filled with flawed one-way players, a steady perimeter option who playing both ends of the floor is a commodity worth celebrating in an otherwise forgettable game.