With recent reports surfacing that the Chicago Bulls may look to rebuild the team around Zach LaVine and shake things up this summer, this may signal that our days of seeing LaVine team up with DeMar DeRozan are soon to end. This tandem has had far too little time together considering their talent, but after a floundering 2022-23 season, it might be difficult to justify running the same team out there next year.
If history has shown us anything, it’s that the Chicago Bulls are never hesitant to switch gears when necessary, even if it means sacrificing bonafide All-Star talent. In fact, the Bulls have had some of the greatest two-man duos we’ve seen in the NBA over the last 50 years suit up for them, just to be sent packing when things aren’t falling in our favor.
This means we’ve had the chance to see several generations of rebuilding rosters and championship-contending teams come and go. This includes LaVine and DeRozan, who also finds themselves on the fence once again, even after earning three combined All-Star selections in two years and achieving great success individually. But even considering all their talent, are they good enough to be ranked among the ten greatest duos to ever play for the Chicago Bulls?
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have been on a tear since teaming up, but are good enough to rank amongst the Chicago Bulls’ greatest-ever pairings?
10. Artis Gilmore & Reggie Theus (1980-81)
Considering the global popularity that Michael Jordan brought this franchise and all of the Hall of Fame talent that litters this organization’s long history, it’s often difficult to forget one simple truth: the Chicago Bulls haven’t been very good for very long.
Even now, as they struggle to make due after the implosion of a very successful core from 2010-2015, it’s easy to forget things could always be worse. Even with talented players, winning isn’t always guaranteed. Perhaps no duo in Bulls’ history better exemplifies that fact than Artis Gilmore and Reggie Theus, who together formed one of the most dynamic two-man pairings in the NBA at the time.
If we’re talking about truly historically great Bulls, Gilmore has to be on every fans’ short list of names worth mentioning. In just six seasons with the Bulls in his prime, Artis racked up 66.5 win shares, good for fourth-best in all of Bulls history. He averaged over 20 points and 11 rebounds per game in that span, and earned his third of four All-Star selections with the Bulls (he received seven more All-Star nods elsewhere in the league) in 1982-83.
Meanwhile, Theus was one of the fastest-rising scoring threats in the league, as he averaged 19.5 points in five and a half seasons with the Bulls and earned the first of his two All-Star selections in Chicago. From 1978 to 1982, these two players were the face of the franchise and made for an incredibly effective duo.
However, that didn’t translate to team success, as the Bulls posted just one season with a winning record in that span, and won just a single playoff series. Theus did help accomplish a great deal in Chicago, as he admits himself, “If we weren’t so bad, they never would have gotten Michael Jordan”.