The Bulls offseason has been an embodiment of the Alonzo Mourning meme...they continue to be pathetic, especially in a big glamour market, at even considering top talent...but they have done a nice job operating in that lower tier to fill out the roster.
They’ve even garnered praise from an unexpected place: the analytically-inclined NBA analyst community. It’s one thing for us to approve of the Bulls moves this summer, but when smart people are calling the Bulls smart it’s notable. And they apparently know it’s notable because they’re funnily surprised by it themselves.
Here’s Chris Herring at FiveThirtyEight
But for all the well-deserved criticism the Bulls have gotten the past few years, so far the team has made a handful of smart, under-the-radar signings that figure to enhance their talented youngsters.
The three NBA vets they’ve added to the roster through free agency — Thaddeus Young from the Pacers, Tomas Satoransky from the Wizards and Luke Kornet from the Knicks — are all perceived as pretty clear bargains, according to FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO model, which lays out estimates of what a player should earn in future years based on advanced statistics and aging projections.
Indeed, these are staggering numbers:
And that’s not mentioning, as laid out in the article, the ancillary benefit to core players like Zach LaVine and Lauri Markannen by these signings.
Then there’s Zach Lowe at ESPN.com, praising the aforementioned four player moves too:
Did the Chicago Bulls experience some secret transfer of power?
I ... I like what Chicago did? I feel like Homer Simpson (and his kids) did upon realizing he had predicted the disintegration of the comet headed for Springfield.
Just recently on Lowe’s podcast, guest Howard Beck of Bleacher Report had the Bulls as his ‘under-the-radar’ team he praised.
Maybe something did go on ‘in our building’?
Our guy Ricky brought to mind that the Bulls did promote some people internally last year. It was widely - or at least by me - regarded as a joke as they were rewarding these front office members after an abysmal few seasons of personnel moves.
But it did include the analytics staff, or as Gar Forman recently called them: ‘the people who study that’
Look how comfortable the Bulls are talking about 'the analytics' pic.twitter.com/31dhsF7YMy— BlogABull.com (@BullsBlogger) February 8, 2019
One way for Paxson to compensate for his small staff (he said it again after the draft!) is to better leverage their numbers. Perhaps the promotions actually carried more weight in the decision-making process. Or they hold morning meetings too early for his brother Jim to call in from the Scottsdale Panera Bread?
Or they did well with some luck. It happens, and in a lot of cases is necessary. Bobby Portis could’ve taken the extension last season (the FiveThirtyEight projections had Portis’s contract with the Knicks as one of the worst signed), this summer at point guard they wanted Darren Collison, who projected poorer than Satoransky.
And, really: they can’t be too forward-thinking given their downright bizarre quadrupling down on Jim Boylen as the head coach. Unless Boylen is such a bosses-pleasing puppet he’ll coach how he’s told?
But while not a major philosophical change that only changing the front office after 16 goddamned years would suggest, things are looking surprisingly better! It’s still bad that this is the same old front office because of the apparent limitations they’ve placed on the franchise with their ineptitude and sour attitude about said ineptitude. But maybe they’re listening to more people in their building and getting smarter, so at least they can compete with the middle markets better than before.