As if the start of the 2023-24 season hadn’t already been embarrassing enough for Bulls fans, things looked to be hitting a new low when Chicago hosted the Miami Heat on Saturday. The Bulls would start the game off on a dismal note, immediately falling behind to a 1-22 score and looking absolutely defeated within minutes. Per ESPN’s win projection model, the Heat had as high as a 95.9% chance to win the game in the third quarter of action.
Although Chicago failed to score even a single basket in the first 8 minutes of regulation, the Bulls scraped and clawed their way back into things by the end. Against all odds, they’d emerge victorious — saving the team’s morale and perhaps even a few jobs in the end. While it feels good to bask in the win for now, they won’t be allowed to savor it for too long, as the Heat will once again storm the United Center in hopes of beating the Bulls on their own home court tonight.
If Chicago hopes to avoid the same level of early embarrassment that they suffered on Saturday, they’re going to need these three players to get their heads in the game and contribute more consistently.
The Bulls look to pick up their first consecutive wins of the season in a rematch against the Heat tonight.
1. Patrick Williams
Much has been made of Patrick Williams‘ disappointing start to the 2023-24 season, so I won’t pile on too much here. Now that he appears to have permanently assumed a bench role, it’s not fair to expect massive statistical production from him. It is fair, however, to expect more than… this.
Williams recorded just two points in the win over Miami, only converting on one of his five shot attempts. Williams has recorded double-digit points in just 3 of his 14 games this season, and has yet to score 15 or more on any given night. In a contract year where Williams was hoping to land a hefty contract extension, calling this a disastrous start to the year would be an understatement, We are rapidly approaching Williams deservedly being labeled a “bust” if he doesn’t turn things around son.
2. Nikola Vucevic
Although the Bulls won the rebounding war as a team, losing the rebounding battle to the relatively short 6-foot-9 center Bam Adebayo was not a reassuring sign from Chicago’s big man Nikola Vucevic. Tallying 8 rebounds in 33 minutes of action, Vooch’s own teammate Zach LaVine matched his 8 rebounds and even Drummond reeled in 9 rebounds despite only logging 15 minutes on the court.
It’s hard to win in today’s NBA if you can’t rebound the basketball. It’s also hard to win if you can’t hit three-point shots. Vooch’s 1-for-5 shooting performance from beyond the arc could have cost the Bulls the game with such a razor-thin margin of victory. Here’s to hoping tonight goes better for the former All-Star center.
3. Jevon Carter
Unlike the previous two names on this list, where the Bulls were actively hurt by their poor play, the biggest benefactor of Jevon Carter playing well is Jevon Carter himself. After signing a relatively low-risk $20 million deal with Chicago this offseason, Jevon has every reason he needs to fight for a bigger role that could land him a truly big deal down the road.
Carter hasn’t had the chance to accomplish much thus far, averaging only 14.4 minutes per game despite shooting 44.2% from the three-point line. Chicago has proven willing to shake things up based on their decision to bump Alex Caruso into the starting lineup, so perhaps there could be an opportunity on the horizon for Carter if his play lives up to his price tag.