Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Chicagoland Dreaming: Bulls Folly Ruins Future?

Is Demar Derozan part of the Chicago Bulls future?

On April 19, 2024, the Chicago Bulls’ season came to an unceremonious end. They went out not with a bang, but with a whimper. In their final season-deciding game in the play-in tournament against the Miami Heat, they were easily dispatched 91-112. Heat top star Jimmy Butler didn’t even play, but Tyler Herro‘s 24 PTS and Jamie Jaquez Jr‘s 21 PTS were more than enough to dispatch the undermanned and outgunned Bulls. In a tradition now familiar to Chicago fans, it was yet another unceremonious end to yet another unmemorable season. Now, Chicago fans are wondering, how can the Bulls move forward toward a brighter future?

Chicago Bulls Eliminated After Another Futile Season

Bulls Disappointing Season

The 2023-2024 Chicago Bulls weren’t terrible, but they certainly weren’t great by any measure. The Bulls finished the season 39-43, good for 9th in the weak Eastern conference. They had a below average offense, averaging 112.3 PTS/G, only good for 22nd in the league. They had a 114.9 offensive rating on the season, good for a whopping 19th best in the league.

Luckily for them, they made up for their below average offense with a below average defense. Their opponents averaged 113.7 PTS/G, good for 16th in the league. They also had a defensive rating of 116.3, only good for 21st in the league. That leveraged them a net rating of -1.5(20th in the league).

Even if you were lucky enough not to witness 2023-2024 Chicago Bulls basketball, the stats still easily tell a story. This is a team is mediocre or worse on both sides of the ball. They have the 3rd slowest pace in the league, but unlike teams like the Clippers, they have poor half court offense. Thus, their slow style is stagnant rather than cerebral. They play a poorly-executed mid 2000s style, where Demar Derozan or Coby White dribble the air of the ball for 23 seconds before chucking up a contested long 2 or passing it to a center for them to miss a fadeaway. The bottom line is that they’re slow, inefficient, and generally overmatched whenever they face a top team.

Play-In Treadmill In Bulls Future

This season wasn’t an outlier for the Bulls. They’ve had a .500 or below record for 8 out of their last 10 seasons. They haven’t finished better than 6th in the East since 2014-2015, 10 years ago. They’ve either been in the play-in or missed the play-in every year of its existence except one. They are on a perpetual treadmill of not being bad enough to get high draft picks, but also not being good enough to have any realistic shot of winning a title or even making a deep run in the playoffs.

Despite this, the Bulls roster isn’t a barren wasteland like that of the Pistons’ or Wizards’ rosters. They have talented players putting together good seasons. For example, Coby White broke out in a big way this year, averaging 19.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 5.1 APG. White was declared a finalist for MIP and was only narrowly beaten out for the award by Philadephia’s Tyrese Maxey. Additionally, one-time Mr. Raptor Derozan miraculously had a career season at age 34, averaging career high in PPG and most efficiency metrics.

The problem is that the Bulls are handcuffed by a series of terrible roster decisions. They traded the farm for Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic. Both bets ultimately failed to pay off, as Lonzo sustained an injury that has robbed him of his last 2 seasons and could potentially end his career for good. Meanwhile, Vucevic has failed to be anywhere near as good as advertised. He had all-star production as the franchise centerpiece for a bad Orlando Magic team, but he has been stunningly inefficient as a Bull, as well as being a traffic cone on defense. It is a massive problem for the Bulls that they are spending a significant portion of their cap on two players who either aren’t on the court or shouldn’t be on the court.

Even more than Ball and Vucevic, they have the hanging anchor of Zach Lavine‘s massive contract. Lavine is one of the highest paid players in the league and has very few results to show for that. He also wanted out this season at the deadline and the Lakers reportedly had a lot of interest, but Bulls management bungled that one, causing Lavine to get foot surgery and sit out the rest of the season.

Last Word on Bulls Future

The saddest thing about their season wasn’t their disappointing results. It was that despite those disappointing results, they still had the best attendance in the league. Above all else, the Chicago Bulls have a great fanbase. They’re passionate and loyal. You can’t walk around Chicago without seeing a million Bulls jerseys, jackets, and hats. They deserve better than what ownership has been trotting out for the past decade. I sincerely hope that the Bulls get better. I really do. The league is better with a competitive Bulls squad. However, the consistent decade-long mismanagement of their roster gives me very little hope that they will be stepping back into the spotlight any time soon.


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