Happy New Year! Thank you for reading my blog. I hope the holidays were as fun and relaxing for you as they were for me.

YAMANY
Yama, the younger and more athletic Bull, celebrates the New Year.

With the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get back to the business of Bulls basketball!

The Worst Records in the NBA:

1. Atlanta Hawks: 10-27 .270

2. Los Angeles Lakers: 11-25 .306

3. Orlando Magic: 12-26 .316

– Memphis Grizzlies: 12-26 .316

5. Sacramento Kings: 12-25 .324

—–

7. Chicago Bulls: 13-24 .351

If you ignored the Bulls for the entire month of December (and who could blame you if you did?), you will be surprised to hear that they have been winning basketball games. They have won so many games they are no longer one of the 5 worst teams in the league. As dumb as it sounds, winning is not good. The plan was to “tank,” to lose a large amount of games so that the team would be assured of a high pick in the 2018 draft.

Things have not been going to plan.

NikoWins
Niko Mirotic, too good to tank! Photo from NBCSports.com

In my last few blogs, I wrote about why the Bulls have been winning games and playing better, so I won’t go into it today. Instead, I want to throw my thoughts at the Tank.

The Bulls front office fully intends on tanking this season. John Paxson has said numerous times, before and during this season, that after the team traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves, it was imperative to get a high pick in the 2018 draft. That is the a key component to rebuilding, finding the next great NBA superstar in the draft. I believe the front office still wants a top 3 lottery pick this season, and I think the Bulls are actively taking steps to curb the amount of wins they accrue the rest of the year.

Some observations:

Zach Lavine has not yet returned from his injury rehab, even though conservative projections had him returning to the squad in the middle of December. The Bulls said he recently suffered a setback in his rehab; he tweaked his back while dunking the ball during practice. This is a reasonable explanation of Lavine’s absence from the team, but it is an unreasonable coincidence that his new expected return date is January 15th, the same day Nikola Mirotic will become trade eligible. SUSPICIOUS!

Speaking of Nikola Mirotic, he was SUSPICIOUSLY absent from the Bulls line up at the end of their most recent loss to the Portland Trailblazers. Over the course of the Bulls last 10 wins, Niko has been a staple on the court closing out games. He has played a big part in finishing wins, hitting big shots, playing strong defense, and being a solid, veteran alpha the team can rally around when games got close. For some reason, Niko was not on the court as the Bulls saw their 4th quarter lead slip away into a 124-120 overtime loss. It was as if someone, a higher power or higher up, told Coach Hoiberg that the end of game rotation needed to be changed. SUSPICIOUS!

I have no doubt that the Bulls front office intends on trading several players before the trade deadline passes. Niko, Robin Lopez, and Denzel Valentine seem like the most obvious candidates (the Niko trade rumors are starting to heat up)… And I’m okay with it. I have decided to embrace the plan and the tank.

Maybe the Bulls can make the playoffs this year:

The recent success that the Bulls have enjoyed has certainly raised thoughts of a playoff run in the minds of many fans. I think chasing the playoffs this season would be a mistake. We’ve seen this movie before, a mediocre team, with slim to none chances of winning a championship, ends their season with an early exit from the playoffs, resulting in a late first round draft pick with little prospect of that pick blossoming into the superstar the franchise badly needs. It’s an ugly picture and one that does not fit the plan.

Yes, it is possible for a team to find a superstar in the late 1st round of the draft (Jimmy Butler), and even in the 2nd round (Draymond Green). And yes, the Bulls have done a good job selecting solid and all-star level basketball players with late 1st round picks. But it is much easier to draft a future MVP of the league with a top 3 pick than it is with the 16th pick overall. The Bulls have only had two players win the MVP award in their entire history as an NBA franchise, Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose, both were top 3 lottery picks.

TANK!!!

Tank

Lose now to win it all later!

I’m not asking the players to lose. I’m not asking Hoiberg to lose (though I think someone is). I’m asking Gar Forman and John Paxson to lose. They have to dismantle the veteran core of this team. They need to flip Niko, Robin and whoever else for draft picks. That’s their job this season. That’s what it is to tank. That’s how we evaluate the front office this season.

The plan was, and still IS, to tank.

Will they follow the plan?