Although things looked on the brink of collapse for the Chicago Bulls just a week ago, it seems they just may have weathered the storm and appear on the brink of making a serious run for postseason qualification. After suffering six straight losses entering the All-Star Break, the Bulls would need a hero to save their season. Fortunately, it appears they just may have found one in the form of Patrick Beverley.
His box score stats won’t scream ‘savior’, but Beverley’s emotional on-court impact has been impossible to deny. They’ve taken care of business against a shattered Nets team and an undermanned Wizards roster thus far to go 2-0, but will turn their sights on bigger fish here soon with crucial games against the Raptors, Suns, and Nuggets coming up in their next five.
The Chicago Bulls are playing far better now that they’ve added experienced veteran and vocal leader Patrick Beverley to the locker room.
3. Bulls are now an elite defensive team
After holding the Nets to a season-low 87 points and then the Wizards to a new season-low 82 points earlier this week, the Chicago Bulls are finally beginning to earn their flowers for their defensive prowess as a unit. As good as they’ve been on that end of the court, however, this team hasn’t been able to reach its full potential until Beverley’s arrival.
Dating back to January 1, Chicago had the NBA’s sixth-best defensive rating. In the two games with Pat on the roster, the Bulls have since leaped to a league-best 108.9 defensive rating in 2023, with the Bucks coming in second at 109.5. When looking at the Bulls’ cast of Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, Javonte Green, Ayo Dosunmu, and more, it’s easy to see why these pieces have been able to compensate for the All-Star trio’s defensive deficiencies.
That being said, they have yet to be able to put it all together as a collective unit until now. No one feared the Bulls’ defense in crunch time before, but Beverley can hopefully change Chicago’s hard-nosed reputation for the better.
2. Zach LaVine enabled to play his brand of basketball
As a newly-inked max contract player, the expectation for Zach LaVine to put the team on his shoulders but also elevate everyone around him is higher than it’s ever been. While that is an area of his game worth developing, it’s never been what Zach has been best at. Fortunately, Beverley seems to understand the assignment perfectly is doing everything in his power to help LaVine succeed.
Since Beverley has joined the starting lineup, LaVine has shot an absolutely electric 23-for-35 (65.7%) from the field, and 6-for-10 (60%) from beyond the arc. He’s scored 59 points in those two games and played a huge role in the Bulls’ looking like a much better basketball team. If Beverley’s presence has bettered the defensive side of things, he’s helped the offense just as much by enabling LaVine to be the player we suspected he always could be.
1. Chicago finally getting off to hot starts
I’m aware that we’re using an extremely limited sample size here, and anyone would be a fool to immediately assume these trends will continue season-long based on just two games so far, but we have seen Beverley do this time and time again on various teams around the league. He’s set the tone for the Chicago Bulls and played an enormous role in keeping the team’s energy and morale up throughout the game.
All too often the Bulls have choked late leads and later blamed it on a lack of energy or hustle. If the Bulls could consistently develop a big lead in the first place, however, they wouldn’t need to worry about closing things out in the clutch so often. Chicago currently scores the second-fewest points in the first quarter across the league. Restructuring this team has helped the Bulls go from a +0.5 point margin in the first half to +8.0 over the last three games.
Pushing Patrick Williams down to the bench has improved an already strong second unit, while Beverley has helped the starters come out ready to play in the first. Chicago is now a much more well-rounded team because of it, and this move could pay dividends in the postseason if they qualify.