3 Lessons the Bulls can learn from Kings’ surge up the standings

De'Aaron Fox, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
De'Aaron Fox, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Historically speaking, the Sacramento Kings have not been a very successful franchise. While I understand that not every team can be gifted their own Michael Jordan, it feels like the Kings have shot themselves in the foot far too many times to justify, which helps explain why they have the 24th-worst all-time win percentage in the league, and fourth-worst among all teams introduced before the1988 NBA expansion. And yet, against all odds, the Kings are now a much better basketball team than the Chicago Bulls.

While Sacramento has long suffered as a victim of playoff-drought jokes, I believe it’s far more of a joke that the Bulls have struggled to find tangible success in the 25 years since Michael Jordan’s retirement, despite an abundance of resources and franchise prestige at their disposal.

Instead of trying to emulate the already-perfected approaches of teams like the Warriors, Celtics, and Bucks, the Kings are the rare team that has managed to carve their own path forward despite lacking a true generation-defining Hall of Fame-caliber talent. They’re making history and breaking records through sheer willpower alone, and considering the Bulls find themselves in a vaguely similar position to the Kings a season ago, they’d be fools to not be paying close attention.

With this in mind, I think it would be unwise to ignore these valuable lessons the Kings are offering this season. Moving forward, perhaps the Bulls could emulate a few things that have helped Sacramento become an unlikely dark horse to make a genuine run in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

The Chicago Bulls may need to significantly shake things up if they want to see a return to prominence like the Sacramento Kings this season.

3. The Bulls need to up the tempo

Throughout the course of the game, the Bulls actually do a respectable job of getting out in transition. Zach LaVine, Derrick Jones Jr., Alex Caruso, and Javonte Green simply excel too much on the fast break to not utilize it to their advantage. However, this team struggles to stick to the strategy even when it’s working extremely well for them.

The main culprit here? DeMar DeRozan and the art of the mid-range. While one-on-one possessions may feel more like “pure basketball” and “the right way to play”, over-relying on isolation is simply not a winning strategy in today’s NBA. With an abundance of elite athletes on this roster, the Bulls should be utilizing one of their greatest strengths to their advantage, not ranking as just the 18th-fastest pace of play team in the NBA.

These strategic differences also help to explain why the Bulls have repeatedly blown big leads and allowed opponents to build big leads of their own at a disproportionate rate throughout the season. When the games are close, however, the Bulls are still just as predictable as ever, often completely draining possessions at the top of the key just to end with zero ball movement and another predictable contested mid-range jumper from DeRozan.

As talented as DeMar is, the Bulls have the fourth-worst winning percentage in the NBA in clutch situations with a record of 14-23. The Kings on the other hand, are 25-17 in the clutch, good for fifth-best in the league. The numbers speak for themselves here; it might seem like common sense, but distributing the ball is actually a good thing.