With the 76ers locked into the No. 3 seed in the East, they rested all five of their starters against the Bulls for the regular-season finale. Even with the Bulls trotting out their G League crew, I thought we would see a competitive game.
The Bulls never led and got smoked from the opening tip, going down by as many as 36 points before making it somewhat “respectable” with a 45-point fourth quarter to finish with a 125-109 loss. Hilariously enough, the Bulls started and ended their season with 40-plus-point quarters, and they lost both of those games by a whole lot. Fitting in a 22-60 season that also featured the worst home record in team history at 9-32.
There’s zero reason to talk about this game, so might as well leave a few brief thoughts about this season. It was a debacle basically from the get-go thanks to Lauri Markkanen’s injury right at the start of camp, and there were a million other injuries, a coach firing, a goofy coach replacement, some truly deplorable play and one fun month of basketball.
Where does this leave the Bulls?
I’m not totally sure. I do have some optimism about the young core ... if they stay healthy. Zach LaVine was better than expected and I’m a believer in the Lauri Markkanen/Wendell Carter Jr. pairing. Otto Porter Jr. is a nice player. They’ll be adding a top draft pick, and maybe they get lucky and get Zion Williamson or whomever they take turns out to be a total stud. They also have some money to play with in free agency.
The TV broadcast made it a point during all these late-season suckfests to hype up the Bulls as a playoff team next season. I don’t think the idea is totally crazy given the mediocrity that often makes the playoffs in the East, but there’s still clearly quite a long way to go to make that happen, and a lot has to go right.
The offense had one great month this season but was mostly awful besides that. The defense was basically shit all year besides a brief stretch when Jim Boylen first took over, but I barely count that. I’m done with Kris Dunn and a point guard upgrade is desperately needed.
I’d prefer a new head coach as well, but all signs point to Jimbo sticking around because the front office loves him. Based on the product on the floor I can’t say he did a whole lot to warrant returning (not to mention the crazy quotes), but I’m not in the building so who am I to judge?
I entered this Bulls season more excited than I had been for a season in several years. That turned out to be misguided. I’m going to have a bit more guarded excitement heading into next season (depending on what happens this summer). I hope it’s not misguided again.
Oh, shoutout to Robin Lopez. I might not like watching his post-ups over and over again, but if he’s not back next season, I have to say I appreciate what he brought to the table, on and off the court.
We now turn our attention to May 14 and that 12.5% chance at the top pick.