I can’t believe I’m even having to say this, but last night the Chicago Bulls were finally granted a reprieve by winning their first basketball game in 18 days, dating all the way back to February 5. They couldn’t have looked any better doing it either, as the home team thrashed the Brooklyn Nets 131-87 and provided an excellent homecoming for new addition Patrick Beverley in the United Center.
No player logged 30 minutes or more due to the blowout, but that didn’t stop a few players from shining statistically. Zach LaVine led the team with 32 points on 12-for-17 shooting, while Andre Drummond racked up 13 points, 10 rebounds, and a pair of steals in just 14 minutes off the bench. The person who impressed me the most, however, was none other than Beverley himself.
Posting just 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, I wouldn’t expect his box score statistics to blow anyone away. But for those that watched the game, his numbers didn’t need to. The Bulls’ energy looked to be a night and day difference compared to the same team that entered the All-Star Break on a six-game losing streak, all thanks to Beverley’s on-court presence lifting everyone else up.
But don’t take my word for it, even LaVine had a glowing review for the Bulls’ new point guard, “He’s the kind of guy you hate to play against but love to have as a teammate. We haven’t had a vocal leader like him since Thad Young.”
The addition of Patrick Beverley has the Chicago Bulls looking like a brand-new team.
By adding Patrick Beverley to the roster, I think most people (like myself) assumed he’d be the lead reserve guard and assume Ayo Dosunmu’s role off the bench. That wasn’t the case, however, as Beverley was immediately inserted into the starting point guard position.
This gamble ended up paying off in a big way as he synergized with the starting five immediately. Chicago’s starters have struggled and dug big holes for the Bulls’ bench in the past, so it was a relief to see the Bulls exit the first quarter with a big lead for a change.
Bumping Beverley into the starting five also allowed Patrick Williams to slide back down to the bench and thrive as a featured scoring threat. Williams put together one of his most complete performances of the season with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals while drilling both of his three-point attempts. This move may end up having the added benefit of strengthening an already stout Bulls’ bench if Williams can maintain this level of play.
Practically everyone interviewed after last night’s game had nothing but great things to say about Beverley, giving this team a sense of optimism that we haven’t seen in a long time. LaVine and DeMar DeRozan’s sentiments were also reflected in head coach Billy Donovan’s post-game statements.
Much like fellow Bulls guard Alex Caruso, Donovan acknowledges that having a player like Beverley grants you the luxury of having an on-court coach of sorts. As a player, Beverley’s criticism can reach players in a way that a head coach just can’t. The Bulls have lacked a player like this willing to call out his teammates when necessary, so hopefully Beverley’s presence gets everyone on the same page for the Chicago Bulls’ final 25 games.
If Beverley proves to be capable of solving the issues plaguing this team, I couldn’t care less about his league-wide perception. The Bulls’ internal problems have held this franchise back from reaching the NBA Finals in the 21st century; I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high just yet, but maybe all Chicago ever needed was another hometown kid with the passion and experience to see this team through, even if he’s not the star of the show.