Well, the Chicago Bulls have gone and done it. They have proved the haters right. The fans didn’t want it to be true – I certainly was a believer. Yet, in the end, the issues that most critics of AK foresaw are the exact issues that plague this team. No identity, no shooting, no defense, and most telling: no effort.
While a few feel-good wins earlier in the season against Boston and Milwaukee extended their runway, their most recent performances against the Knicks and Timberwolves have all but dissolved whatever goodwill remained between this team and its fans.
I wrote previously about what would need to go right for the Chicago Bulls to stay in contention for a top 6 seed. Checking in on those expectations, none of the three have panned out. Zach LaVine continues to be woefully inconsistent with his shot and compounds those issues with the lackluster effort, if any, on the defensive end.
Patrick Williams has his moments, his sparks on both ends of the floor, but has not solidified himself as the 15-point, 7-rebound guy this team needs him to be. Ayo Dosunmu, to this point, hasn’t shown he can be anything more than an elite transition scorer and spotty three-point shooter at best.
Overall, the Chicago Bulls have been disappointing in every possible facet of their game.
Yet, the prospect of trading DeRozan and Vucevic for Westbrook and two unprotected firsts half a decade from now seemed ludicrous a week ago. Today though? Not so much.
Now, even a good proportion of Bulls fans believe it’s time for AKME to press reset and firesale this roster. With Billy Donovan extended, it’s clear that AK is more committed to him as a coach than they are to this nucleus of players they assembled around Zach LaVine.
However, there is one alarmingly scary reality of the Chicago Bulls potentially undergoing yet another rebuild: the people in charge.
In the aftermath of the GarPax regime, anyone that replaced him who showed even the slightest interest in bringing the Bulls back to relevancy was gonna be given the longest of leashes and the warmest of welcomes from this fanbase. Though, if we really consider what a rebuild would mean for this regime, the results are scary.
If AKME decides to press reset on this team, not even two full seasons into assembling the core, it would mean they have failed to build a quality, contending roster – which is the only way anyone could describe their goals upon trading for Nikola Vucevic in early 2021.
Now, consider the draft picks. Patrick Williams, Marko Simonovic, Ayo Dosunmu, Dalen Terry. This group includes a top-4 pick, another pick in the late teens, and two second rounders. Is it an inspiring group? Not by my estimation.
Dalen is an unknown, which is fine – in theory, but as far as evaluating AK’s drafting he’s a complete wildcard. Ayo seems like a solid rotation piece, but is being asked to develop at a much faster rate than is appropriate. Patrick Williams, despite being the most talented piece on this team, is still too deferential to his veteran teammates – making him a massive question mark too.
Then there’s Marko, who has somehow managed to not get a main roster spot on the same team as Tony Bradley.
So what exactly has AK proven as a drafter? Factor in that any rebuild involves a change in approach to build through the draft, and is this a route that would inspire any confidence?
Ultimately what we have is organizational management that is showing they have failed to build a championship team through free agency and trades, and struggle to identify impactful contributors in the draft. Yikes.
The Chicago Bulls are in an extremely precarious situation. The players have the ability to turn their own season around. The front office has objectively been uninspiring since that first summer, unable to pick a lane. Now, they may be left in a spot where doubling down on “winning now” or pressing reset present equally risky situations.