3 Key players who will elevate the Chicago Bulls into the Playoffs

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls, NBA Global Games (Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls, NBA Global Games (Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Considering no significant moves were made in the offseason, the status of Lonzo Ball’s knee continues to delay his return from injury, and locker room feuds have plagued this team’s chemistry, it’s fair to say that this season has started off with a consistent sense of disappointment for the Chicago Bulls. This led to a lackluster 11-18 start before the team finally started to show some signs of life.

Now, the Bulls are currently slated to be in the play-in tournament but have won 8 of their last 13 and are looking to move further up in the East standings. To do this, the team is going to need a few key contributors to step up and shine.

If the Chicago Bulls want to make the playoffs again, these 3 players need to shine.

1. Patrick Williams

This has already been a rollercoaster season between Patrick Williams and Bulls fans. Williams started out the year being criticized for complacency on offense, showing a lack of initiative compared to what he had shown in the summer league when he was the primary scoring threat. Despite these offensive concerns, he keeps being praised for his defense.

He has been the main stopper on the team, matching up with some of the best forwards in the game. Despite his age, Williams has shown great potential and is starting to grow into a very good defensive player.

The East has some of the best forwards in the league, including Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and each of these stars are players that Williams has matched up with and will continue to if the Bulls were to meet them in a playoff series. If this is the case, he will have by far the most important defensive assignment, which is vital considering this team’s defensive struggles.

Recently, we have seen The Paw’s aggressiveness come out on the offensive side, and it has paid dividends for the Bulls. Over the past 5 games, Williams has demonstrated solid improvement in his stat line:

  • Last 5 Games: 12.6 PTS, 4.8 REB, 46.7 FG%, 50.0 3PT%
  • Previous 20 Games: 9.3 PTS, 4.1 REB, 43.1 FG%, 38.7 3PT%

This is exactly where Williams needs to be offensively, showing that he is not afraid to shoot the ball and can do damage when necessary. With Zach, DeMar, and Vooch all showcasing high-scoring outputs, Williams does not need to be a dominant scorer but has to be able to pick up the slack when the Big 3’s shots aren’t falling.

He has the tools for this, with a nice midrange jumper, a solid 3-point shot, and the strength to finish inside the paint. The key is just for Williams to stay aggressive and continue playing at the level he’s been at. Although he has been inconsistent, he has shown flashes that he can reach the ceiling that caused him to be drafted number 4 overall in 2020.