The 2019 Chicago Bulls aren’t just falling short of expectations, they’re falling apart. Instead of becoming a destination, they’ll remain a laughingstock.
This past offseason was one of hope for the Chicago Bulls and their fans. Not only did it look like the team was finally making good decisions in free agency, but the draft also went their way without any effort from the front office. There was even hope that there might be more to head coach Jim Boylen than immediately met the eye.
Unfortunately, that hope has turned into angst.
A Bunch of Bull
This mark of 6-14 is no way to start a push for the playoffs; even in the Eastern Conference. Wild as it is, the Bulls are still within earshot of the eighth seed. But that gap is more likely to widen than shrink in the coming weeks.
They face the Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, and Los Angeles Clippers next week and have a brutal four-game stretch of the Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, and Dallas Mavericks after Christmas. There’s also a four-game road trip and the fact that Chicago will face six of the top-10 scoring teams in the NBA between now and Jan. 8. This will get uglier.
Inconsistency has plagued this team on both ends of the court. So much so that many might not know the Bulls are holding opponents to the fourth-lowest three-point field-goal percentage.
That’s because the Bulls are shooting the fourth-worst percentage from deep themselves and are the worst from the field this season. Leading the league in steals is nice but they are in the bottom-third in so many categories.
Chicago is 20th in opponents shooting percentage and 30th in opponent rebounding just to name a few.
The Cost is Freaky
Most have seen articles painting a picture of the Bulls future that involves their pursuit of Giannis Antetokounmpo next year. There are also more than a few pieces suggesting a run at Anthony Davis could be in the cards. With how they have performed this season, both on and off the court, those dreams have become that much more far-fetched.
The Brooklyn Nets gave the blueprint on how to transform an organization marred by poor decisions into one with a bright future. Landing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant (Achilles) has had mediocre results this year. But their ceiling is higher now than before.
Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum are the Sacramento Kings, a team that once mocked the Bulls. Now they are more similar than anything. That reflects poorly on the Bulls executives.
With the recent piece in the Chicago Sun Times comparing John Paxson’s job security to that of Chicago White Sox executive, Ken Williams (i.e. Teflon) the prospects of things changing anytime soon are slim to none. The decision to install Boylen as the head coach and reward him with a new contract looks worse with every cliche-laden press conference.
Giannis is the reigning MVP, arguably the best player age 25 and under. In no way do the Bulls resemble a team ready to drop him (or Davis) into the lineup and contend for a title.
When It All Falls Down
2019 has felt like the basketball version of Kanye West’s ‘All Falls Down’. Everything positive we thought about this team has been proven untrue or irrelevant because they can’t get out of their own way.
Boylen finally acknowledges that rookie Coby White should be closing out games but took far too long coming to that conclusion. Then, should-be star (at least budding) Lauri Markkanen is enduring a slump both scoring and on the boards. Those are just two examples of what has gone wrong this season. There are many (many) more.
How do the Bulls course-correct and get back to emulating the Nets and not the Kings (who they play Monday night, ironically)? The answer is an uninspiring “who knows?”.
Boylen’s Bulls are one win over Fred Hoiberg’s group from the start of last season but whether or not he faces the same fate is irrelevant. He has proven to be in over his head and has even clashed with Zach LaVine, who turned the locker room in his favor, and has the front office on his heels.
The Bulls had a shot to look like a team on the rise and they blew it.