Chicago Bulls Sound too late for full rebuild

NBA Analytics Network

The 2022-2023 NBA season was a disaster for the Chicago Bulls, hitting a new low in their 150-122 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. After losing six consecutive games, they are now 11-18 on the season and are only 11th in the Eastern Conference standings.

Karl-Anthony Towns did not play. Rudy Gobert also dropped out. Anthony Edwards dropped 37 points and 11 assists, while D’Angelo Russell had 28 points and eight assists. The Bulls let the Timberwolves shoot a whopping 65.5 percent from the floor and 53.5 percent from 3-point range with 23 marks. Defensively, it was an unmitigated disaster.

For a team built on offensive firepower, the Bulls have only managed an offensive rating of 110.7 (22nd) this season. It hasn’t improved on that front compared to the rest of the league lately. However, their defense has completely fallen off a cliff. Chicago’s 116.6 defensive rating over their last five games ranks 25th in the NBA, and they have a bottom five net rating (-5.0) within that span.

Following the Bulls’ loss to the Timberwolves, LaVine expressed his frustrations with the outcome—describing it as “frustrating” and “embarrassing” for the players and fans.

“It’s frustrating for all of us,” LaVine said. “I know it’s frustrating for the fans. It’s humiliating. We’re all a little embarrassed about it.”

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LaVine highlighted the lack of connectivity the Bulls played with, highlighting a lack of effort and communication. While there are leaders in the team who try to lead in their respective ways, it doesn’t combine with the group collective and doesn’t translate into success on the pitch.

“You can call it whatever you want. We just can’t pull it off as a unit,” LaVine said. “And until we work together and start helping each other, you won’t see a different outcome. I think that’s the first thing you should bring. You can’t ask your team for stakes every night. I think that’s the first thing you need to bring down from the top. The guys here are talking. We try to be leaders in our own way, but we have to find a way to make it happen.”

The layered offense they have with scoring threats should be a strength for the Bulls. Between names like DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, they should have a well-oiled machine offensively. Instead, there seems to be a sense of selfish play from the locker room.

“We don’t play for each other,” said Bulls guard Goran Dragic. “It’s that simple. Someone told me – and he was right – that it’s easy to talk about sacrifice. But someone else’s sacrifice is easier to talk about. But when it comes to you, that you have to sacrifice for the team, then it’s a different story. You have to accept it. But it’s tough.”

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There seems to be no way to turn things around quickly for the Bulls. They went all in with non-elite parts to compete for a title in an NBA landscape where just a group of good veteran players isn’t enough to pull it off. With the terrible news of Lonzo Ball’s injuries recently surfacing, the Bulls are in a difficult position.

Even in the short term, getting back in line proves a struggle. We are more than 30 games further into the 2022-23 season. When is it just downright established that this current group’s ceiling isn’t enough to challenge for an NBA title?

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The Bulls have a one-two punch on the wing that would be best suited to playing alongside a superstar to set the tone. Neither LaVine nor DeRozan will be the best option on a title team, while Nikola Vucevic cannot anchor a defense enough to contend. They sound better off with a full rebuild to restore themselves.

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