Sunday Update: Curtain Call 2018-19


Take a bow boys, this season’s all wrapped up! The Bulls finished the 2018-19 NBA Season with a pair of losses. The New York Knicks beat the Bulls 96-86 on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the Philadelphia ‘76ers outscored the Bulls 125-109. Chicago ended the season with a pitiful 22-60 record.

This season, the 4th worst in franchise history, was punctuated by the worst loss in franchise history, the December 8th, 2018, drumming by the Boston Celtics 133-77. This season also featured a game in which Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors set the NBA record for most 3 pointers hit in a single game; He made 14 threes against the Bulls on October 29, 2018.

The sooner we autopsy this season, the quicker we can forget about it. So it’s time to hand out some grades.

Ryan Arcidiacono

Win Share: 3.7 (Team Leader)

I gave Arch a “B” at the midway point of this season, and he deserved every bit of it. I spent an entire post this week talking about Ryan, so I won’t bore you with anymore on him. He was very solid for the Bulls this season.

Final Grade: B

Antonio Blakeney

Win Share: -0.5 (Team Worst)

Blakeney was a huge disappointment. He came into this season needing to prove he could be a ball handler and distributor, but all he did was make NASA’s job a lot easier. You want a picture of a black hole? Here it is…

Picture from the Chicago Tribune

All he did was shoot the ball, and not very well either, at least not well enough to justify never passing to his teammates.

Final Grade: F

Wendell Carter Jr.

The rookie had an up and down 1st half of the season before getting injured and sitting out most of the 2nd half. He played in 44 games, averaging over 10 points, with 7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He still has a ways to go before he becomes a dominant center in the league, but he showed some flashes and intelligence. He has the potential to be a great player, he just needs to realize that potential.

Final Grade: Incomplete

Kris Dunn

Win Share: 0.6

Dunn struggled mightily this season. He had some nice moments, but in the biggest, most important year of his career, he didn’t do enough to show he could pilot this team as a starting point guard and leader.

Final Grade: F

Cristiano Felicio

Win Share: 1.4

You ain’t no Michael Jordan.

Final Grade: F

Shaq Harrison

Win Share: 1.4

If you could combine all of the athleticism and defensive prowess of Shaquille Harrison with the crafty scoring of Ryan Arcidiacono, and then make that amalgamation 4 inches taller, you would have one hell of a point guard. Unfortunately, science has yet to figure out how to combine the best qualities of separate individuals in order to make a superhuman basketball star. Until that day comes, it’s a “C” for effort for Shaq Harrison.

Final Grade: C

Chandler Hutchison

Win Share: 0.6

Yet another rookie whose season was cut short by injury. In Hutch’s case, he had just turned a corner and appeared to have found his place in the pro game, when the injury stick struck. Hopefully, he continues to improve next season.

Final Grade: Incomplete

Zach LaVine

Win Share: 2.8

The undisputed MVP of the season, Zach really put the team on his back and dragged it to 22 wins. This was LaVine’s best season as a pro. He posted career best per game averages in points (23.7), assists (4.5), rebounds (4.7), and field goal percentage (46.7%). He still has a lot to improve on when it comes to defense, but he opened up a lot of eyes with his play this season. It will be fun to see what Zach works on this offseason, and how he improves as a player next season.

Final Grade: A

Robin Lopez

Win Share: 2.7

RoLo had a slow start to the season, but turned it on in the last 3 months. He was a whirling dervish in the post, pivoting opponents out of position and hooking shots over hapless defenders. He also beat up mascots.

Final Grade: B

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot

Win Share: 0.3

TLC was a mid-season acquisition for the Bulls. He was an okay addition to the Bulls bench, making the occasional spot start when too many players were out with injuries. He had some moments of competence on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court, but never really stood out.

Final Grade: C

Lauri Markkanen

Win Share: 2.7

Good news! Lauri Markkanen has been cleared to resume basketball activities! His heart scare seems to have been an isolated incident. That being said, it was a rocky 2018-19 for the Finnisher. Nagging injuries, health scares, basketball frustration, and a February of out of his mind dominance, it was a weird sophomore season for Markkanen. Besides from his February play, this season was a disappointment for fans. Lauri did not show much improvement from his solid rookie season, like appetizers at a cocktail party he left a lot of us fans hungry for more.

Final Grade: C+

Otto Porter Jr

Win Share: 1.1

Porter came to the Bulls from the Washington Wizards for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker. It was a trade that might have gotten Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards GM of 16+ seasons, fired. In the 15 games Porter played for Chicago this season, he was brilliant. He was the exact person they needed on the wing. He hit threes, he was good in pick-and-roll, he could isolate defenders and take them off the dribble, and he played defense. It’s like the Bulls finally have a complete basketball player on the roster. The sample size was way too small to give O.P. a grade, but from the little we’ve seen, he’s probably the best player on this team.

Final Grade: Incomplete

Wayne Selden

Win Share: -0.4

Selden was another mid-season acquisition, and while he played well to start his tenure with the Bulls, he’s faded in the last few months. By no means is Selden an awful player, he’s just not a superstar either. He’s pretty okay.

Final Grade: D

Denzel Valentine

Denzel was injured for the entire season. I only put him on this list to remind you that he still exists.

Final Grade: Incomplete

Coach Jim Boylen

What can I say about Coach Boylen? He’s part birthday clown, part spirit guru, and part high school gym teacher. He has the complete confidence of the front office and Reinsdorf family, and will probably receive a 3 year contract extension before the summer ends. The funny thing is I don’t think he’s a bad coach. I don’t think he’s a good coach either; he’s a “meh” kind of coach.

No one should doubt his commitment to the team, and Boylen truly wants to help make his players better. He sticks up for his players, constantly getting in the refs ears when he thinks one of his guys has been done an injustice. He has earned some begrudging respect from the very players that tried to mutiny in the early days of his regime. Zach LaVine is even volunteering to pay Boylen’s fines when he gets ejected from games for arguing with other coaches. That’s a bit of a turn around.

The big change that Boylen has brought to the team is an old school mentality of working inside out on offense. BoyBall consists of working through the post, or driving the lane, in order to free up shots on the perimeter. For the most part, this strategy did not work this season, with the exception of those brilliant few weeks in February when LaVine, Markkanen, and Porter were clicking on all cylinders. That was the best basketball the Bulls have played in two or three years, and it was still only good enough for a .500 record in the shortest month of the season.

With no coaching search scheduled to happen this summer, it looks as though Jim Boylen will have a couple seasons to test out his old school BoyBall. Let’s hope the Bulls are up to the task.

Final Grade: C

The Front Office

GarPax made some trades! Most of them were for money, but a couple of them were for serviceable players, and possibly the steal of the century.

The Good – Drafting Wendell Carter Jr and Chandler Hutchison. Signing Shaq Harrison off the scrap heap at the end of the summer. Trading for Otto Porter Jr.

The Bad – Signing Jabari Parker to play small forward. Firing Coach Hoiberg a quarter of the way through the season, disrupting the chemistry of the team, and never giving HoiBall a chance with a healthy core. Claiming this is only the second rebuild in the 16 years that John Paxson has been in the front office. (Stop lying to yourself John!!!) Getting upset with fans and media who rightly question why neither Gar nor Pax are on the hot seat. (It’s been 16 years John, still no championship!!!) Not conducting a full search for a coach before settling on Jim Boylen.

Final Grade: D

The Bulls Overall

It was a rough season for Chicago. Injuries, internal turmoil, losing, more injuries, mutinies, and very little defense, made this one of the worst seasons in franchise history. While a handful of players showed individual growth, it wasn’t enough to make me feel like this season wasn’t a waste of time. It was.

Final Grade: F

…And now, let us never speak of this pathetic season ever again…

With the regular season over, and the Bulls not participating in playoff basketball, I will revert to a single Wednesday post every week, starting this Wednesday when I take a look at John Paxson’s End of the Season Press Conference. It happened on Thursday or Friday of last week and it yielded several pages of notes from yours truly. Delicious.

Upcoming Dates of Import for the Bulls

Tuesday, May 14th – NBA Draft Lottery takes place in Chicago

May 14th-19th – NBA Draft Combine takes place in Chicago

Thursday, June 20th – The NBA Draft

Monday, July 1st – NBA Free Agency Begins

July 5th-15th – NBA Summer League