This will be a more thought out idea after the Bulls, as predicted, sit on their hands at the trade deadline: AKME going middle in their team building would’ve actually worked out this season! Because the whole league kind of stinks this year?
The Bulls, who are not good, are somehow 6-1 against the Celtics, Bucks, and Nets after last night’s victory over Brooklyn. They have the 5th seed Sixers lined up, who have Joel Embiid in and out of the lineup so that may be another W. Just last night, the Pistons beat the Warriors (in San Francisco), the Lakers without their two All-Stars beat the Heat. The Wizards had a six game win streak just snapped. Are any of these teams uniquely suited to beat better teams, or is that just the Bulls?
The Bulls are 5-4 versus non-playoff teams in the East.— Mark K (@mkhoops) January 5, 2023
Try to make sense of this team. pic.twitter.com/FQCadfpjNI
It’s not hard to figure out: the Bulls are ‘meh’! But nobody has been particularly dominant, and the Bulls could’ve tricked us into thinking they would give some higher seed a tough matchup in the playoffs.
But they stopped short, due to poor planning and money concerns. So instead of having a pretty good team that knew Lonzo Ball was going to be out for a while and shored up weaknesses, they just...didn’t. And now will have to just dream about this hypothetical playoff push: can’t get dominated in the first round if you don’t make it!
Perhaps the Bulls player most emblematic of the franchise as a whole is Nikola Vucevic, where the theory of him is always going to be better than what he actually is.
Take last night: Vuc had a very good game, but it was almost entirely just a good half. He was able to assert himself over the Nets lack of size (only center is Nic Claxton, who’s more of a string-bean rim-runner type) and led a 2nd quarter 15-3 run that got the Bulls their biggest lead of the game (18).
As we know, Bulls TV analyst Stacey King loves post play, and was so enthused by this run that he was mad that the Bulls took an open corner 3 attempt.
Take a guess why this possession infuriated me. pic.twitter.com/AyfPJ9d2zo— Mark K (@mkhoops) January 5, 2023
The Bulls are using Vucevic fine, he’s not that good to where you have to alter your offense to get him more involved or whatever.
Even in great matchups like this. For the second half, Vucevic went 1-4 inside the 3 point line, with one assist but 3 turnovers.
In keeping tradition of their half-measures, it doesn’t look like the Bulls are going to extend Vucevic before his contract expires this season. And in keeping another tradition of never going into the luxury tax, they likely don’t want to pay him his market rate in free agency.
They need to trade Vuc by the deadline, to get someone who’ll actually be in the rotation next season. And I think the Nets are a great destination idea. They are going for it this season, and clearly need size! And looking at their rotation last night, the Nets only played Joe Harris 18 minutes, with Patty Mills and Cam Thomas not playing at all. All 3 are owed money next year that Brooklyn may want to get out from under.
Zach is bac(h)...to where he thinks he can whine about his role
I’m actually not sure how much of this is LaVine-driven or “the media”, but now that thankfully Zach LaVine looks like his old self in terms of scoring, there’s a lot of stories about him taking that next step of being the closer for this team.
Just...no. I don’t know who needs to tell him this, but he’s not good enough. If he is the best player on the team who gets the most important shots at the end of games, then he’ll be on non-playoff teams like he was the first 7 years he was in the league.
DeMar DeRozan is the man, here. It’s frustrating sometimes to see the Bulls late game offense devolve into just ‘give DDR the ball’, but it is not a good alternative to have LaVine try to do the same thing.
In last night’s game during the middle part of the 4th, DeRozan went 4-6 for 10 points and the offense mostly went through him. LaVine seemingly was annoyed by this, because then he just looked for ‘his turn’ on two of the next three possessions:
LaVine has been better in the clutch lately as he’s been better overall, but he is still ultimately a bad decisionmaker with a shaky handle. I don’t need that to be proven out further in these games. If there is a legit problem, Billy Donovan needs to actually run some offense to give Zach assisted looks. Or throw LaVine a bone at the end of games when they need a 3 pointer, something that he is actually better than DeRozan at getting.