Against all odds, the 7.5-point favored Dallas Mavericks managed to somehow out-tank the undermanned Chicago Bulls last night. The 115-112 affair resulted in the Bulls advancing to 39-42 on the year with a chance to cross the 40-win threshold for just the second time in the last six seasons in their season finale against Detroit tomorrow.
This victory comes as a surprising silver lining in an otherwise disappointing season, as the Bulls still managed to squeeze out a victory even with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Patrick Beverley all sitting out for rest purposes. Although this win won’t affect Chicago’s seeding in the play-in tournament, there are still plenty of positives to take away from this game, namely the promising showing by Chicago’s young core.
Since this game was primarily devoted to granting the young core extra minutes to showcase their developments, we’ll be focusing on them for these game grades — my apologies Vooch, you played great — instead of the veterans who are already known products.
Even with the stars resting, the Chicago Bulls put on an exciting show last night as the young core led a big comeback effort against the Dallas Mavericks.
Patrick Williams got off to a slow start last night, but quickly made up for it by impacting the game in several areas and ultimately being one of the biggest reasons the Bulls pulled off the win in the end. Chipping in 23 points while shooting 50% from the field and drilling 3-of-5 three-point attempts, this game offered a glimpse of what we might expect from Williams if he were allowed a larger role in the offensive scheme. Williams has also struggled to be a consistent presence on the boards, so his 8 rebounds and combined 4 steals and blocks were extremely promising.
Developing just a little consistency with these types of performances will quickly make Pat an above-average starter in this league.
Truth be told, I’m one of the biggest Dalen Terry sympathizers you’ll find out there, but even I have to admit he struggled in last night’s contest. Scoring on just 3-of-10 attempts from the field and failing to dish out even a single assist, he really struggled to prove to fans that he can be that versatile point-forward many hold out hope he can one day become. Still, it would be foolish to put a significant amount of stock into this one performance, particularly because it’s only the fourth time all season he’s been granted 15 minutes of playtime or more. We just need to see more of him before we can draw any definitive conclusions.
Ayo Dosunmu has drawn a lot of flak from the fanbase this season for failing to improve on his surprising 2021-22 campaign, but we were fortunately treated to a very solid outing last night. Shooting 6-for-9 from inside the arc while contributing 9 rebounds and 5 assists, Ayo had a very well-rounded game and definitely played a big part in helping the Chicago Bulls secure a win. Unfortunately, another awful 0-4 performance from three-point range makes me hesitant to give Dosunmu a glowing review. Working on his shot absolutely has to be Ayo’s top priority this offseason.
If it hasn’t already left the station, I’d like to buy a ticket for the Coby White hype train. I don’t want to overreact to this one game too much (especially since Dallas seemed determined to do everything in their power to actively lose), but this recent trend of excellent performances from Coby is becoming too difficult to ignore. White led the game in points, assists, and plus/minus last night, clearly looking like the best player on the court from the moment Luka Doncic exited for good in the second quarter.
He simply looks like a much-improved version of the Coby we’ve been watching for the past 3 years. Over his last 12 games, he’s averaging an excellent 14.9 points and 5.5 assists per game while drilling 41.5% of his threes and playing surprisingly solid defense. If he can continue at this rate, there’s a very real chance Coby White is the starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls next season.