5 Reasons the Bulls underperformed and missed playoffs this season

Jimmy Butler, Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Bryan Cereijo/Getty Images)
Jimmy Butler, Coby White, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Bryan Cereijo/Getty Images) /
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Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls
Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports) /

2. The Bulls suffered through lineup and coaching issues

One of the main qualms that Bulls fans had this year was the lineup decisions made by Billy Donovan at certain points throughout the season. These questionable choices were highlighted during both games of the play-in tournament, as there were both matchup problems and interesting substitutions.

In the Raptors game, although the Bulls won, the starting lineup was not what it should have been. Toronto is known for being an incredibly long team with tremendous size, but Billy Donovan elected to start Alex Caruso, a 6-foot-5 point guard, at the power forward and leave Patrick Williams on the bench.

Williams is an outstanding defender at the PF position, and he may have been able to limit the hot start that the Raptors had at the beginning of the game. Williams later showed his tremendous defense and had two steals and two blocks while making the Raptors’ lives difficult. Williams should have been able to get more of a role in this game, and this lack of awareness from Donovan was shown in the Miami Heat game as well.

Andre Drummond and Coby White were playing very good basketball in the season finale, as the former had 6 points and 8 rebounds in just 10 minutes of play, while the latter had 14 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists while shooting 4-for-6 from long range. These two were able to rejuvenate the team off the bench, each making big plays.

Andre Drummond was showing off his physicality and rebounding prowess in this game, making Bam Adebayo’s life difficult on the glass. Drummond had 8 rebounds in 10 minutes, three of which were on the offensive end. This offensive rebounding mark was more than the rest of the Bulls combined, which showed how important Drummond’s presence could have been.

Chicago was also outrebounded 51-37 by Miami; this would not have been the case if Drummond was on the floor. His plus/minus on the game was +8, which led the team. With all of this in mind, it was a poor decision by Billy Donovan to keep Drummond out of the game, especially when he was playing so well. Similarly, Coby White was playing well but was not on the court with the game on the line.

Coby was hitting clutch threes throughout the 2nd half, providing excellent shooting from deep while the rest of the team was unable to. White made as many threes as the rest of the team (4), while doing it on 16 fewer attempts. When the team is struggling so much from long range, the Bulls cannot be sitting its hottest three-point shooter when the season is on the line.

This is especially true when considering the defensive effort that White was bringing to the table in the game. He has consistently decreased the amount of defensive liability that he brings to the floor, and the 23-year-old showed it in the Miami Heat game. Overall, these two players did not deserve to sit out, and these questionable lineup decisions were consistent the entire year.