If the NBA were to skip the rest of the regular season and jump into the playoffs, it would play to the benefit of the Chicago Bulls.
While it might seem like any team that has young and promising players that need more game action, it’s not worth it for the Chicago Bulls to play anymore regular season games for the 2019-20 campaign if they have not shot at making the playoffs. All that would be meaningful is the likes of improving players like rookie point guard Coby White and defensive standout guard Kris Dunn to get more game action under their belts.
The Bulls rounded out the first 65 games of the regular season slate with a record of 22-43, then the novel coronavirus pandemic caused the hiatus to the campaign back in mid-March. They sit pretty far out of reach for a playoff spot, and also remain around the same spot for the draft lottery that they did the last few years.
If the Bulls get the seventh overall pick again, it would not be surprising to see the fans rioting. That is not the type of consistency that the Bulls need at the moment.
What could play a role in determining how the Bulls are slotted in the draft lottery odds is how the NBA decides to resume the season. If and when the NBA season comes back, it looks like one of the favorite options is to jump straight into the playoffs. That’s similar to how the NHL’s plan is laid out with a 24-team round robin style tournament to bridge into the playoffs.
According to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic, most general managers are in favor of advancing directly into the playoffs. At the same time, 60 percent of general managers voted to have a 72-game season, which would give the Bulls seven more regular season games to figure it all out heading into the offseason.
The Bulls are currently eight games behind the Orlando Magic for the final spot in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference standings. Even playing seven more games this season would not give the Bulls any chance of getting past the Magic into the playoff picture.
It seems like the best case scenario for the Bulls would be to have the rest of the NBA jump into the playoffs, and just let them rest up and strategize what’s the best road ahead for the looming offseason. This is a very important initial offseason for recently hired former Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas, who will be the next lead exec in the front office.
The official title for Karnisovas with the Bulls will be the executive vice president of basketball operations. He’s surrounded himself with what looks to be a solid executive staff thus far in the front office, including new general manager Marc Eversley, who came over from the Philadelphia 76ers.
Outside of getting some extra game action under their belts, there’s not much that playing seven more regular season games will do for the Bulls. Maybe it could be the final stint for head coach Jim Boylen, who appears to have his seat heating up of late. It could also give the likes of Dunn and White extra minutes of game action.
The popular opinion at this point would hold that Boylen should not be the Bulls head coach come the start of next season.
However, there would be more risk than reward with the unfortunate injury luck that the Bulls have of late. White has played in all 65 regular season games, but Dunn already was supposed to miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury he suffered back in February.
The likes of second-year center Wendell Carter Jr. and third-year power forward Lauri Markkanen could really use the additional rest. Markkanen might’ve pushed himself too hard so far this season, and the extra rest could bode really well for him next season.
It will be interesting to see how Markkanen is able to return to basketball activities in the next few months, though. He does need to be in top form if he is to prove to the new look Bulls front office regime next season that he is worth a contract extension sometime in the next calendar year.
According to a report from K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Dunn is already back at the Advocate Center working on rehab for the knee injury he suffered earlier this year. That’s a good jump start to his recovery if the Bulls do decide to re-sign him as a restricted free agent this coming offseason.
Giving Dunn and Markkanen ample chance to rest and recuperate, if they’re both coming back for the Bulls next season, is the best move. And if the Bulls can at least maintain decent draft lottery odds to snag a top five pick in the first round, there’s no reason to mess that up.
Since the Bulls already made some of the necessary moves to oust the likes of John Paxson and Gar Forman in the front office and could be starting to adjust the 15-man roster and coaching staff in the near future, there’s no need to take additional injury risk with the more significant pieces of the young core. Keep the status quo and head straight into the offseason with a clear task list in mind.