Disclaimer: I, Divac, despite my name am actually a Chicago Bulls fan. I’ve liked the Bulls forever. I’ve also liked Vlade Divac forever. And Jud Buechler.
That’s why it pains me greatly to witness the direction — or lack of direction — that this team is headed. The Bulls are not good nor are they bad. They are simply average. So average that their averageness is nearly unbelievable. This from Redditor saintscanucks:
- They are 21-21.
- They are 5-5 in their last 10
- They rank 15 out of 30 in the league
- they have a differential of 0
We are exactly halfway through the season and the Bulls may as well have not even played it. There is nothing worse in the NBA than average. It’s NBA purgatory. It earns you the privilege of losing in the first or second round of the playoffs and getting an average draft pick.
Mismanagement doesn’t even begin to describe what has gone on with the Bulls. The hot start was nice, but the Bulls regressed to the mean rather quickly — seemingly getting up to play the better opponents but losing to teams who represent the lesser half of the NBA. The Bulls got older when they needed to get younger by signing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo over the off-season. GarPax (GM Gar Forman and VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson) provided an overmatched, perimeter-oriented coach in Fred Hoiberg with three guards not known for their three-point shooting abilities. Two of those guards (Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams) would probably struggle to hit 30% from deep in an open gym with a rim that is 30 inches wide. Hoiberg has been a disaster hire thus far and hopefully is the last time the Bulls even glance at Iowa State as a potential source of future pieces (see, Tim Floyd and Marcus Fizer), but he hasn’t been helped with the directionless approach of the Bulls’ front office.
Unsurprisingly, Rondo — somehow only 30 years old still — has worn out his welcome with the Bulls as he has done with his previous two teams and has only proven to be a quality asset when surrounded by three future Hall of Famers. Wade can undoubtedly still play and has had a strong season thus far, but he’s not a fit for a Bulls team that needed to go younger and build around Jimmy Butler who has turned into a bonafide NBA superstar. There has been talk of trading Jimmy Butler which at this stage is absolutely absurd and solves nothing.
The frontcourt play of the Bulls has been horrific and new acquisition Robin Lopez has been an abomination. According to PER (player efficiency rating), Lopez’ 14.13 PER is 43rd in the NBA among qualified centers just ahead of Salah Mejri, Tyler Zeller, and Roy Hibbert. ROY HIBBERT! Niko Mirotic is a turnstyle on defense and needs to go somewhere else — really anywhere else where he can continue to try to James Harden Eurostep his way to the basket unsuccessfully and then act surprised when a foul isn’t called. Denzel Valentine was the Bulls most recent first round pick and barely sees the floor. MCW was literally handed to the Bulls straight up for Tony Snell so… I don’t think I need to elaborate anymore on that. It’s a mess.
Ten years ago, the Bulls were a little worse and in a pretty bad spot. 33-49. Their future was Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordon, Joakim Noah, and Kirk Hinrich. Andres Nocioni was hanging around. So was Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden. Even Aaron Gray was getting in the game. It seemed to be a team destined for mediocrity at best for years to come. Of course, everything changed when the Bulls got super lucky and nabbed the #1 pick in the draft lottery so they could draft future MVP Derrick Rose. Regardless of how it ended up, Rose and then the eventual hiring of Tom Thibodeau made the Bulls the best team in the East for two straight seasons until the knee injury heard ’round the world in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
The Bulls aren’t going to get lucky like that again. That was a once in a generation-type of lucky. They won’t even have the opportunity to do so because as of right now they are “too good” or maybe it’s more appropriate to say “too average.” The rebuilding process really needed to start this season and everybody knew it… except for the Bulls.