The good, bad, and ugly of the Chicago Bulls’ 2018-19 season

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Kris Dunn’s Regression

Heading into the year, Kris Dunn had high expectations placed on his shoulders. Bulls fans eagerly watched to see progress in Dunn’s playmaking and creation abilities.

Unfortunately, Dunn has struggled mightily to assert himself in Boylen’s offense. His shooting efficiency has dropped while averaging fewer assists and rebounds per game. When it comes to advanced stats, Dunn’s True Shooting Percentage, PER, Win Shares, BPM, and VoRP have all regressed from last season.

Most worrisome of all, Kris Dunn seems to have lost his defensive edge that made him such a dangerous asset in the first place. He is averaging fewer steals per game and his defensive rating has dropped.

Dunn has to make the most of the 2019-2020 season if he wishes to reinstall some faith in the Chicago Bulls’ front office if he wants to receive a payday he believes he’s worth.

Cristiano Felicio’s Contract

At the trade deadline, the Bulls made a move to win as soon as possible instead of suffering through years of tanking. Otto Porter has brought a lot of good things to Chicago, but he also brought his hefty 26 million dollar salary and 2021 player option.

In hindsight, this has made the decision to extend Cris Felicio on a 4-year, 32 million dollar deal in 2017 abhorrently worse. The Bulls’ financial obligation to Felicio removes the possibility of pursuing top tier guards like Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell, or Malcolm Brogdon in free agency.

Felicio’s contract also puts a serious constraint on the team’s financial flexibility looking ahead to 2020 free agency, where the Bulls should be interested in attracting the attention of generational talent Anthony Davis.

At an average of 8 million dollars a year, Felicio’s contract wouldn’t be such an issue if he was a productive player on the court, but he just isn’t. Without an elite playmaker to throw lobs to Felicio, he often looks lost on both ends of the court. If the Bulls can’t figure out a way to properly utilize the 26-year old big man, they’ll likely look to unload him and his unappetizing contract.

Selling Short on the Tank

Rooting for your team to lose for better draft odds is a horrible experience as a fan. No one should partake in feeling pleasure from your favorite team’s defeat. After making the move to add Otto Porter to the team, the Chicago Bulls have looked like an actual NBA team capable of playing anyone closely on any given night (when they’re healthy).

Not to sell the progress the Bulls have made post-trade deadline short, but they have continually shot themselves in the foot with their performances all year. Not in the sense that they should have won less, but in the sense about who they beat.

Against a collection of the NBA’s worst teams – the Knicks, Suns, Cavaliers, Hawks, Grizzlies, and Wizards – the Bulls have posted a dominant 12-5 record. Against the rest of the league? Chicago has accumulated a putrid 9-52 record.

For reference, the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks possess an 11-7 record against these bottom tier teams. The Chicago Bulls are actually better against bad teams than the current best team in the league.

As Bulls fans may remember after the coin flip in 2018 that robbed Chicago of Luka Doncic, this small taste of success may come back to seriously haunt the team if they slip in the draft lottery.