It was three games and three losses for the Bulls this past week. Detroit and L.A. (both the Lakers and Clippers) dropped Chicago’s record to 19-51 on the season. There are only 12 more games left as the Bulls drag their way to the finish line.
The big take away from the week: Lauri Markkanen is back in a slump. He continues to struggle this month after a brilliant February. He seems to have lost confidence in his shooting again. He is passing up open threes and forcing up wild runners instead. Not good. It doesn’t help that both Zach LaVine and Otto Porter Jr have been in and out of the line up nursing minor injuries. Without those two creating for Lauri, it’s hard for him to get his buckets. It also means…
The tank is back on.
The Bulls are 2 ½ games behind Cleveland for the 3rd worst record in the NBA. The bottom three teams in the league all have a 14% chance at landing the number 1 pick in this years draft. It looks like Chicago is gunning for one of those bottom 3 positions. Cristiano Felicio and Antonio Blakeney have been getting minutes the last couple of games, you don’t have to be a genius to see the Bulls have waved the white flag on this season.
With upcoming games against the Kings, Suns, and Wizards, there will be more wins before it’s all said and done. The real question is: Will there be enough losses? If Cleveland keeps winning, and the Bulls training staff can convince Porter and LaVine to sit, there might be! It’s going to take a minor miracle, but as the Ramones would sing, I believe in miracles!
What the league is tanking for…
Speaking of miracles, Zion Williamson returned from injury just in time to power the Duke Blue Devils past Syracuse, UNC and Florida State, all the way to another ACC Tournament Championship. Today is “Selection Sunday” when the NCAA tournament seeding takes place, it will be interesting to see where the selection committee decides to put Duke. They have the most talented roster in college basketball, but that hasn’t always translated to wins this season. For the nothing that it’s worth, I think Duke should be a 1 seed.
I don’t blame the Bulls for dusting off the tank down the stretch. Here’s who they are tanking for…
MVP of the Week: Robin Lopez
Zion Williamson isn’t the only big man making an impact over the last few days, if you haven’t noticed Robin Lopez has been playing some of the best basketball of his career. In truth, he has been playing incredibly well ever since the All-Star break, but this was the first week where he wasn’t eclipsed by Lauri, Zach, or Otto. RoLo has been cooking in the paint. Spin moves, shoulder fakes, and more spin moves, Lopez is averaging 16.3 points per game since the All-Star break. His pre All-Star points per game average was a measly 7.2. He has gone from an offensive after thought to pivotal contributor in the blink of an eye.
It’s not just his scoring that has taken off, all of Robin’s stats have gone up since the All-Star break. As the Bulls trudge down the home stretch of this woeful season, it’s been the consistent play of RoLo that has anchored the team. His energy and enthusiasm have been a revelation, especially after the ugly start to the season he had, a start that was so bad it had some of us fans wondering if Robin had lost his ability to play at the NBA level. Well he’s not only competing well, he’s carrying the team.
Win Share Leaders: Chasing Bobby Portis (3.5)
The Bulls have caught up to Dickey Simpkins and his franchise worst, team best Win Share for a season, of 2.9. It’s time for the team to set it’s sights on the second worst, team best Win Share for a season, in franchise history; Last year, Bobby Portis led the Bulls in Win Share with 3.5, a few more wins and maybe one of these players can catch him…
1. Ryan Arcidiacono 3.1
2. Zach LaVine 2.9
3. Lauri Markkanen 2.6
The Worst Records in the NBA:
1. New York Knicks 13-56 .188 14% chance for #1 overall pick in draft
2. Phoenix Suns 17-54 .239 14%
3. Cleveland Cavaliers 17-53 .243 14%
4. Chicago Bulls 19-51 .271 12.5%
5. Atlanta Hawks 24-46 .343 10.5%
The Bulls have some very winnable games scheduled this week, if they’re truly serious about tanking, they will have to resist the urge to win. That being said, it would really suck if they don’t beat the Suns on Monday. As talented as Phoenix has become over the last several drafts, they’ve been losing for so long they don’t know how to win. That’s the trouble with constantly tanking. Let’s hope the Bulls don’t fall into that quicksand. As always, thanks for reading, and GO BULLS!