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 Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images) /

NBA’s Worst Bench

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that a team with Cam Payne seeing the floor for nearly 20 minutes a night would flounder. But that would be underselling just how bad the Chicago Bulls’ bench was this year.

With a net rating of -5.0, the Bulls’ bench has been by far the worst in the league this year, and it’s not even close. The gap between the Bulls and the next worst team is as large as the gap between the 15th and 23rd ranked teams.

Not only that, Chicago’s bench rates out as the third worst in the last six years combined. This is a far cry from the glory days of the 2012 “Bench Mob,” the statistically best bench the league has ever seen according to their net rating.

Chicago has been forced to trot out sixteen different players off the bench this year in countless different lineups. If the Bulls wish to get back on track with a better second unit next season, they’ll need to develop some consistency the team is sorely missing.

Incessant Injuries

If there’s anything to remember this year by, it’s injuries. Constant injuries. Under no circumstances should a team ever have to call up five G League players to close out the year. With the entire starting lineup out for injury, Bulls games have made for difficult television.

The Chicago Bulls starting lineup has already missed a whopping 116 games due to injury, and that number is only set to rise as the season comes to a close. Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen constantly struggled to stay on the court together to begin the year.

Just when the team looked to be getting healthy, rookie Wendell Carter Jr. was shut down for the rest of the year due to a torn ligament in his left thumb. Fellow rookie Chandler Hutchison has not fared much better, as he was also benched for the year with a fracture in his right toe.

All of these issues are compiled on top of Denzel Valentine’s absence for the entire year due to an ankle injury. Only three members of the Chicago Bulls have played in 80 percent or more of their games this year: Robin Lopez, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Shaq Harrison.

Ball Hog Blakeney

After leaving LSU early and going undrafted, things looked bleak for Antonio Blakeney‘s future in basketball. The Bulls gave Blakeney a chance on a two-way contract playing for their G League affiliate. He rewarded their trust in him with his performance and earned G League Rookie of the Year honors, joining other NBA mainstays like Robert Covington and Quinn Cook.

The following year, Blakeney left his mark by averaging 32 points per game and leading the G League in scoring. His electric play left many fans in Chicago wanting more. So far, Blakeney has played well over a thousand minutes in a Bulls uniform.

Unfortunately, he has not yet been able to replicate his G League success. As of March 23rd, Blakeney has more turnovers than assists. He has also averaged more shots per game than passes per game. The chip on the shoulder that helped him dominate the G League competition has proved detrimental to the Bulls, as he refuses to get his teammates involved in an effort to prove himself.

Next. Grading Lauri Markkanen's 2018-19 season. dark

If Blakeney wishes to continue having a large role on the team heading into next year, he will have to show a willingness to be a playmaker and distribute the ball much more often.