This season has been stupid with injuries for the Bulls. The latest: Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis will both miss the next 2-4 weeks with ankle sprains. Cameron Payne is dealing with a strained calf muscle and is day to day. 2-way Windy City Bulls point guard Tyler Ulis suffered a hip injury and is out indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Bulls continue to play basketball like they’re stuck in molasses. Coach Jim Boylen doesn’t want the team to push the ball up the court on fast breaks (i.e. Hoiball). Even after a turnover, he prefers the Bulls slow it down and run their half-court offense (i.e. Boyball). I’m going to give the man the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he does this so that the young players can learn the basics of a half-court offense. It is extremely frustrating, however, watching Kris Dunn, Shaq Harrison, or Ryan Arcidiacono holding the ball up just beyond half-court while both teams scramble to set up for a play.
The Bulls were 1-2 this week. The Oklahoma City Thunder stomped Chicago (121-96) on Monday night, Wednesday belonged to the Brooklyn Nets as they eked out a 96-93 victory in the closing seconds of the game, but the Bulls bounced back with a 90-80 win against the hapless Orlando Magic on Friday.
The triumph over the Magic featured a great performance from Lauri Markkanen.
Lauri has struggled of late. Whether he’s still feeling the effects of his elbow injury, or the transition into a “new” offense, the Finnisher has looked tentative on offense. He made it a point to be more aggressive against the Magic, and his teammates made it a point to find him, and get him the ball, on offense. Markkanen is also making an annual tradition of posterizing Magic big man Nikola Vucevic. This years dunk was so vicious that Lauri was called for a technical foul (I assume for stealing Vucevic’s soul)…
LAURI MARKKANEN JUST KILLED VUCEVIC 💀💀💀
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 22, 2018
Lauri Markkanen Slam Dunk On Nikola Vucevic & Stare Him Down pic.twitter.com/PVlrxhl7wj
— Gustavo Vega (@iamvega1982) March 31, 2018
MVP’s of the Week: Lauri Markkanen (2) and Kris Dunn
Back from injury and picking up where the two left off last season, Lauri and Kris were the two best players of the week for the Bulls. Dunn’s defense and assists have helped keep the Bulls in games, and Lauri’s presence has helped space the offense. Even as Markkanen has struggled to consistently hit shots this season, teams are aware of his firepower and are forced to take him seriously. As he and Dunn gain more confidence, expect the Bulls win totals to steadily rise. It’s amazing what TWO talented players on the court at the same time can accomplish.
Speaking of talented players, Wendell Carter Jr. is being treated with kid gloves by Boylen and the Bulls. His recent foul trouble woes seem to have shaken the rookies confidence, as a result, Boylen has only been playing him about 25 minutes a game. Carter has been sitting on the bench for long stretches at a time while the Earl of Trey, Robin Lopez, fills in.
— Ⓜ️arcusD ᴿᴵᴾ ᴹᵃʳᶜᵘˢᴰ² (@_MarcusD3_) December 22, 2018
I’m not too worried about Carter, he is working through a rough patch, something most rookies have to do. I’ll be concerned if he is still struggling with foul trouble and confidence at the end of the season.
With Jabari Parker no longer a part of the Bulls plans, Chandler Hutchison has seen an uptick in his minutes on the court. Hutch played some strong defense this week, especially in the Orlando game, but his offense has been comical. He seems to jack up at least one brick and one air ball a game. I’m not sure if it’s just rookie jitters or if he needs glasses. Something he has improved on since the beginning of the season is dunking…
Chandler Hutchison Slam pic.twitter.com/7RR8Ikj9OZ
— Gustavo Vega (@iamvega1982) December 22, 2018
2-way G-Leaguer (and My Guy), Rawle Alkins, joined the Bulls shortly after the Zach LaVine injury. He hasn’t really played yet (maybe a minute of garbage time against the Thunder), and I’m not sure that he will. His best bet is to show some defensive chops in practice; with Boylen as the coach, defensive impressions count more toward playing time than anything else.
Neil Funk and Stacey King have really been talking up Robin Lopez on the local TV broadcasts. I’m not exactly sure what that’s all about. Robin is certainly a fan favorite, and has played well when given an opportunity, he is a steadying force for the young Bulls roster, I’m just suspicious of so much praise being heaped on an objectively mediocre player. What or who are Funk and King trying to sell Lopez on? Maybe I’m just paranoid. It’s more likely that the two TV announcers are trying to make a boring product seem more attractive than it actually is. Tom Boerwinkle would be proud.
That’s it for this weeks update. I plan on having an Eastern Conference Power Ranking posted this Wednesday, but that may not happen if I do too much celebrating on Christmas. I hope everyone is having a Happy Holidays! Thanks for reading and Go Bulls!