The most ‘average’ player in the Bulls’ 58-year team history

Stacey King, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Stacey King, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

From Michael Jordan to Derrick Rose, we know all about the best Chicago Bulls players of all time. We even know about the biggest busts, such as Jay Williams and Tyrus Thomas. But what if we tried to define who was the most perfectly “average” player to ever play for the Bulls.? Let’s dig into it.

In an attempt to make things as fair and clear-cut as possible, I factored in seven statistical categories including points, rebounds, assists, and minutes per game as well as field goal, free throw, and three-point shooting percentages. By these metrics, the perfectly “average” Bulls player would post a stat line of 6.4 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game on 42% shooting from the field, 71% from the charity stripe, and 25% from beyond the arc in approximately 17 minutes played per contest.

Throughout Chicago Bulls NBA history, 411 players have worn the Bulls jersey. None of them matched those exact averages. The player who came closest to those numbers was former Bulls forward and current beloved color commentator Stacey King. During his 4.5 seasons with the Bulls, he has averaged 6.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1 assist per game while maintaining shooting splits of 48 FG.0%, 72.1 FT%, and 25.0 3P% in 17 minutes per game.

Coming out of college, he was considered one of the best big men in the draft. King scorched
Iowa State for 55 points, 30 rebounds, and 10 blocks in back-to-back Sooner wins during his sophomore season. He was even gracing the Sports Illustrated cover back in November 1988. Hank Hersch wrote a big piece about Stacey King.

During his last season at Oklahoma University, King averaged 26 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 52% from the field. His jump from sophomore to junior year was impressive, as his statistical production nearly tripled. It came as no surprise then, when he was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft. He was even selected before Chicago natives Nick Anderson and Tim Hardaway and Sonics legend Shawn Kemp.

Stacey King failed to make a big impression (positive or negative) despite playing 344 games and winning 3 championships with the Bulls.

At the time, King was considered a good pick for what this roster needed. Even though he loved the NBA lifestyle, he did run into trouble and was immediately unhappy with his status as a role player on the ascendant Bulls.

Sam Smith disclosed in his book that Jerry Krause told Jackson to fine King $250 and suspend him for a game for missing practice. He added that the suspension would dock around $12,000 from his salary. This did not sit well with King. He called Jackson a hypocrite for the veteran coach’s comments about him to the media while simultaneously asking the players to not complain in front of the media.

The author noted that Jackson isn’t someone who would get angry very easily. However, King’s comments angered the head coach. So he slammed King for his poor performances. The power forward then cursed Jackson and stormed out, recounted Smith.

“If I would’ve gotten drafted by, say, the Clippers, I probably would’ve been an All-Star, scored a lot of points and never won anything,” King said, “And I probably would’ve been frustrated because I love to win more than anything.”

Why didn’t Stacey King reach the level of individual success we expected from him in the NBA? Well, there were a couple of reasons.

The triangle offense with Jordan was not friendly for conventional big men. They had to hit mid-range jumpers and generally be high post-ish bigs. King, I don’t recall, had much of a high post-game and was more of a back-to-the-basket threat. It was hard for him to compete with Horace Grant and Cliff Levingston on the low block.

They were also much better athletes compared to King. They were better rebounders and defenders, plus didn’t need the ball to be effective. King actually needed the ball to perform, since his best skill was offense. But when you have MJ and Scottie, it’s obvious, that others’ role offensively will be reduced.

Stacey was no defensive stalwart, especially in an era that allowed players to get far more physical on the court. Another player, who’s worth mentioning, is Greg Foster, but he played only 17 games for the Bulls. If you’ll take other criteria, you’ll get different results. It’s not completely objective, but I’ve tried to look at the main stats, to get the result. You’re anything but average on the mic, Stacey, but the same cannot be said for your playing days.

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