This year’s draft has a dominant top three. There is Luka Doncic, the thrilling 18 year old Slovenian who is his own personal highlight reel currently ruling Spain. There is DeAndre Ayton, the big man from Arizona, and Marvin Bagley III, the big man from Duke.
Philly has shown the NBA what happens when you tank. You get Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Even the Lakers helped themselves to Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. So the blueprint is clear when you clean the deck of your talent and start the rebuild as the Chicago Bulls have done when they traded Jimmy Butler. Tank to get A-level talent and while you are waiting for the draft, develop your young players but don’t win too much. Winning is counterproductive.
The Bulls were operating on tanking schedule when Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis got into an upset and Mirotic’s face took punishment. Mirotic was out the lineup and the Bulls struggled. Mirotic even wanted to be traded which was good too. That would only make the product more offensively challenged.
But Mirotic (not traded) is back and having a career year, 18.5 points and 7.6 rebounds, 50% and 48% from three. He is making the Bulls competitive and on many a night, good. The Bulls are still a young team and no way near contenders but Mirotic is shooting the Bulls out of the top-3 of the lottery.
|Not Last Year Nikola Mirotic||Points||FG%||3-Point%||Offensive Rating|
Kris Dunn isn’t helping either. A year ago, the rookie Dunn was everyone’s pick for Rookie of the Year. And then he was disastrous in Minnesota. He forgot how to shoot the ball. He was benched, his confidence went downhill faster than a brakeless Porsche and he arrived in Chicago with not much swag. Dunn had to get back to the basics and remember who he was when he was Big East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. On top of that, Dunn has his degree so he actually was a student athlete.
Now Dunn has remembered himself. He is scoring nearly 10 points more than last year’s pathetic 3.8 points per game. He is shooting 43% and is nearly averaging 6 assists. He has a solid defensive rating of 105. He’s not much of a midrange shooter but he is shooting 47% on long two’s.
With Mirotic and Dunn, the Bulls have competed hard and don’t really care about the 2018 Draft. And why should they? Some of them might not be on the team next year. Players care about the next game. It is the organization that engineers tanking strategies. The Bulls need to engage in trade talks for Julius Randle (Lakers) for Mirotic. Replace 18 points a game with 12 points. Randle is a restriced free agent so they aren’t taking on anymore salary. They would have shot their offense in the foot.
|Not Over-Dunn||Points||FG%||Assists||Defensive Rating|
The Bulls are 8-2 in their last 10 games. They have beaten Milwaukee twice, both on the road, the Celtics, Utah, Charlotte and Philly. The 10 games before their current winning ways they were 0-10. That gets you the number one pick.
The Bulls have to decide what they want. Make no changes and continue as things are and find themselves fighting for the 8th seed which only means getting swept out of the first round and no elite talent on the horizon. Or create a situation where the team cannot win.
The Bulls are by far a perfect team which is good. They are last in field goal percentage. 25th in 3-point shooting. Next to last in getting to the line and terrible free throw makers. 25th in steals, next to last in blocks and 28th in scoring. Their defense is mediocre.
Kris Dunn is their best defender. Everyone else is pretty bad. The Bulls are not making the playoffs given their numbers. They are on a hot streak. The problem is they are causing a lot of damage when it comes to a top-3 pick. They are currently an 11 seed when they should be a 14th seed. Getting a 8 or 9 pick doesn’t help anyone because free agents are a few years away. The Bulls have to remember the process.
Play hard. Develop the kids. Lose.,