A year ago today, the Chicago Bulls were celebrating yet another win as they cruised to an impressive 30-17 start to the season before ultimately imploding in the end. The effects of that implosion seem to have carried over to this year as well, however, as the Bulls were thoroughly dominated by the Hornets last night to the tune of a 96-111 defeat that leaves Chicago sitting at 22-26 and the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference.
This loss comes as Chicago’s second in a row and fifth in their last eight contests. The Bulls now hold an embarrassing 8-10 record against teams below a .500 win percentage this season. No other team sitting in play-in tournament position or higher in either conference has been unsuccessful as the Bulls in these games.
These losses have not been for a lack of trying, as DeMar DeRozan has done everything he can and more to elevate this team to a winning position in the East. He recorded 28 points and 5 assists in last night’s loss, but with very little help from the rest of the team, DeRozan and the Bulls ultimately fell short. The next-highest scorer was Zach LaVine, who posted a paltry 18 points on a horrendous 8-for-19 shooting from the field.
There’s truly no understating just how poorly the Bulls played as a team unit. Against the NBA’s third-worst team, DeMar’s supporting cast from top-to-bottom played terribly. At one point in the game, the Hornets missed 18 straight three-point attempts, and yet they still managed to finish the game with a higher percentage from deep. There’s simply no excuse for any NBA team to shoot 4-for-24 from long range in 2023.
DeMar DeRozan deserves better from his teammates on the Chicago Bulls following their latest loss to the floundering Charlotte Hornets.
As much as I’d like to place the blame on one particular piece of this roster, the Bulls’ as currently constructed are filled with faults all across the organization.
Billy Donovan has repeatedly proven he does not have what it takes to elevate this team to its full potential. Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic (and Lonzo Ball, but that’s another story) are each being paid All-Star money, but are barely even playing at an average NBA starter level. And the front office deserves its fair share of the blame here too, as they have failed to acquire pieces that can help this team win, with their two veteran free agent signings in Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic being relegated to the third string of the depth chart.
When DeRozan came to Chicago, he likely held high hopes that playing alongside genuine All-Star talent could help him make another deep playoff push for the first time in years. Instead, he’s been proven to be more of the same as what he endured in San Antonio. While DeMar appears to be on a collision course with his second All-Star appearance in as many years with the Bulls, the rest of this roster looks like their destination will be the trade block.
That may sound hyperbolic, and I wish it was, but it simply isn’t. The Bulls are legitimately staring down a non-consensual rebuild here, simply because they’re not even good enough to qualify for the playoffs despite being built to win now. LaVine still doesn’t look capable of playing team-first winning basketball even in his ninth season in the league, Vucevic can’t even dominate the NBA’s worst frontcourt in Charlotte (5-for-16 from the field while giving up 21 points to Mason Plumlee, really?), and Lonzo doesn’t look any closer to a return than he did a year ago.
While it seemed the team was building positive momentum to begin 2023, their inability to close out games against the NBA’s worst teams signals they simply do not have the means necessary to overcome adversity in a potential playoff scenario. It pains me to say, but this does not need to be a re-enactment of Titanic. DeRozan does not need to go down with this ship. He doesn’t deserve to either. If the Bulls can find him a spare lifeboat, I don’t despise the idea of offering it up.