The Chicago Bulls were supposed to show some improvement from last season when they tried to tank for a high draft pick. That hasn’t happened, and this team must now tank again.
The Chicago Bulls came into this season with hopes that the young squad could improve and show progress from the 27-55 season they had in 2017-2018. So far, this team doesn’t look a lot different than last season and they must face reality.
The Bulls tanked last season because there was a deep draft class of potential NBA superstars that they wanted to go after. The team didn’t tank well enough though and ended up with the seventh pick in the draft.
That pick was good enough to get center Wendell Carter Jr., who has the potential to be a solid player, but he’s far from a projected superstar like the top three picks in the 2018 draft. The front office made some moves this offseason, but it doesn’t appear to be helping much.
Executive VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson said it was “as important a summer as we’ve had in a very long time,” after the signings and retention of coach Fred Hoiberg. He also said the following about tanking (Via USA Today):
"It’s not a situation that any of us want to ever be in again. It goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in, but it’s the way the system is set up. To be very honest, we believe we’ve done it the right way."
Spoiler alert: they hadn’t. While the team had a slightly improved roster heading into this season, there’s been a clear weakness on defense. It doesn’t appear to be something coaching can fix either, as LaVine and Parker are two of the worst defenders in the NBA.
The Bulls currently rank 22nd in the NBA in defensive rating as a team, and dead last at 30th in offensive rating. Neither side of the gameplan is working. While LaVine has had some nice performances on offense, he’s also been standoffish at times and refused to talk to media.
Carter Jr. even publicly called out the team last week for a lack of leadership. It was a surprising stance for a rookie to take, but it’s clear that something isn’t clicking with this Bulls team.
It’s not easy to admit that this team is going nowhere because there is a lot of young talent on this roster. Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen both have promising futures despite both being sidelined with injuries right now.
If there’s really no chance of this team making the playoffs, why not try and tank again? I know Paxson and the rest of the team don’t want to hear that now, but it’s in the best interest of this team to acquire even more young talent.
While this draft class isn’t as deep in terms of superstars, there are still some really good players that will go in the top three picks of the 2019 NBA Draft. Duke has three elite freshmen that may be the top three picks in the draft.
If the Bulls can land any of these three Duke stars: forward Zion Williamson, guard/forward R.J. Barrett, or forward Cam Reddish, the tank will be worth it. What does this team have to gain by again being mediocre and finishing anywhere from 10th to13th in the Eastern Conference?
Tanking won’t be fun for the second year in a row, but it’s the best way for this team to improve. Hopefully, the Bulls can do it right this time.