About to enter the final stretch of the 2022-23 season, there have been many surprising and disappointing teams. Without a doubt, there has not been a team more disappointing than the Chicago Bulls. A team that finished 46-36 (sixth in the East) last season had hopes of improving this season, but it has looked more like a regression for the team. There have been many questions surrounding this team involving the future of players, management, and more. The main question that everyone is asking right now is what is wrong with the Bulls?
When looking at the chaotic season the Bulls are having, there are fingers that could be pointed in many directions and at many people. The most obvious direction that fingers could be pointed at is the players. One of the most repeated phrases during the Bulls’ season has been “we’re just waiting on Lonzo to return.” Not playing a game in over a year, it’s unlikely Lonzo Ball will suit up this season. Lonzo has been sorely missed with the Bulls not having a true point guard. The Bulls’ four remaining point guards do not fill the gap that has been created in Lonzo’s absence. At this point, many are questioning Balls’ future not only in Chicago but in the league as well, with many comparing his situation to Brandon Roy. In the second year of his deal, there is no telling if Ball will play again.
In addition to Lonzo, many have been pointed at the Bulls’ big three in Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. At this point in the season, much of Bulls Nation has turned on Zach Lavine. In the first year of his five-year, $215 Million contract, Lavine has underperformed in the eyes of many. Fans have called out poor shooting performances, bad performances in the clutch, and more. Many thought Lavine might have been traded at the deadline, but he remains part of the team. Rumors have stated Lavine having issues with head coach Billy Donovan going back to his late-game benching earlier in the season. Although the Bulls’ have struggled in the last stretch of games, Lavine has stood out from the rest of this team with his performances.
Looking at teammate DeMar DeRozan, he’s had a solid season and was selected as an All-Star again but has been struggling as of late. Currently dealing with a thigh strain, DeMar has been underperforming, something that has hurt the Bulls. Like Lavine, many thought DeMar could be traded with his value so high, but no trade was made. There are rumors he could be moved in the Summer as well, but only time will tell. The last of the big three is Vucevic who has sacrificed the most for the team but has also been the least utilized. The stats show them has more success when playing through Vooch, but the team hasn’t played through him often. Many have also criticized the 2021 trade for Vooch with the Bulls’ trading future picks away for him. With Vucevic being a free agent this summer and not being traded at the deadline, many see the Bulls trying to re-sign him instead of letting him walk for nothing.
Looking at the rest of the team, there are many problems that are obvious but have been ignored by those in the organization. The Bulls are easily one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, with their last five games prior to Wednesday’s game against the Pacers showing that. In those five games, the Bulls have made 26 of 125 attempted three-pointers, barely shooting 20% from three. In this league, you must be a good three-point shooting team to win. One thing the Bulls’ have been called out for is their drive and passion for the game, with the team letting many games slip between their fingers while looking uninterested on the court. The team has completely fallen apart in multiple games this season, giving up fourth-quarter leads and games as a result. The Bulls blowing a 24-point lead to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night was the latest example of this.
Head Coach Billy Donovan has had many fingers pointing at him for his coaching this season, with much of Bulls Nation calling for him to be fired. Donovan has been called out for many things this season. He has been called out for not playing backup center Andre Drummond, who was given multiple DNP- Coach’s Decision, even though he has had several performances. Billy has also been called out for his late-game decisions, lineups, and more. Many have argued Donovan is not the right coach for this team, but after being given a secret extension over the summer, it’s likely Donovan will remain head coach until his new contract expires.
One of the biggest fingers point this season has been at General Manager Marc Eversley and Artūras Karnišovas. Although the future looked promising after AK’s signing, especially with his moves in 2021, the team currently put together has very little chemistry. Management called for continuity but made no moves at the last two trade deadlines. They brought it Goran Dragic and Drummond this past summer with those moves having their ups and downs. Management said they were active at the deadline, but nothing could be done as prices were too expensive to buy and the offers were not good enough to sell. The team has yet to make a move in the buyout market, the only team to not make a move during the 2023-23 season. While AK has said moves could be made in the summer, fans have little hope that the team will be a contender any time soon.
All the Bulls’ troubles go back to owner Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and his lack of spending for the team. The Bulls are in an interesting spot right now. Sitting at 26-32, the Bulls are sitting 11th in the East and sitting outside the play-in tournament. While the Bulls are only out of 8th and six games out of 6th and a playoff spot, the Bulls have been inconsistent all season. With 24 games left for the Bulls this season, a lot depends on how this final stretch goes. The Bulls may make the playoffs or not even make the play-in. They could blow it up in the summer, or they could retool around certain players. The Bulls must do something to change the future of the organization, or they could be looking at another years-long rebuild.
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