I’m going to keep this post short.
We’re a quarter of the way through the NBA season now, and the Bulls have slunk their way to a 7-14 record. I’ve ranted a lot about the lack of a star player on the team, what’s gone wrong with the season, and about the unrest within the Bulls organization and fan base. Today, I want to point out a few positive takeaways from the season. Like I said, I’m going to keep this post short.
1) Wendell Carter Jr is playing very well. Just watch how hard he works on the defensive end of the court. On any given play you’ll see him blitz the pick-and-roll on the perimeter, sprint back into the paint to cover the roll man, slide across the paint to pick up a cutting offensive player, turn back to the rim to contest a layup, and finally fight off a pack of opponents for the defensive rebound. The man is running himself ragged trying to contain opponents. There is a lot of talk about “hero ball” on offense, where one player hijacks the offense, ignores his teammates and tries to score by himself. Wendell has been forced to make that phrase apply to the defensive side of the court as well.
The other thing I really love about Carter is his ability to cut through the B.S. and tell the truth. If he’s ashamed of a performance he’ll tell the media that. If he’s proud of a teammate he’ll tell people that too. He’s upfront about his emotions, and while he has been frustrated most of the year, his truth telling are the seeds of real leadership, something this Bulls team desperately needs.
2) Coby White has been a pleasant surprise for me. He makes a lot of rookie mistakes and is very inconsistent with his production, but he is the Bulls third leading scorer behind Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen, and has been a decent defender too. With his ability to score buckets in bunches, White is the second most exciting player on the team behind LaVine. 7 three pointers in a single quarter, several games won due his shot making, the rookie is making a case for being the best player on the team. His scoring off the bench has been invaluable. He’s got a lot of growth ahead of him, but Coby White has been one of the best things to come out of this lame-o season.
3) Kris Dunn has found his role. He is an excellent defensive “stopper” coming off the bench. He is one of the league leaders in steals. He has limited the number of turnovers he’s made, and maximized the number of turnovers he’s forced. He is one of the defensive glue guys that the team leans on to turn the tide of games. Any offense he provides is just the cherry on top of his defensive effort. His teammates all rave about his defensive leadership, and lament his absence when he fouls out of games. Kris Dunn finally fits on the Bulls.
There has been a lot to complain about this season, and a lot of disappointment too, but the above three guys keep me engaged in Bulls games. It’s not all doom and gloom for the Bulls. There have also been some recent signs that Lauri Markkanen is getting over his slump, and that Tomas Satoransky is becoming more proactive. Zach LaVine is capable of putting up 40+ points on any given night, that’s always something to watch. Could a healthy Otto Porter Jr make an appearance soon?
The Bulls are 7-14 in a weak Eastern Conference, which means they are only 2.5 games out of a playoff spot with 3/4’s of the season left to play. Anything can happen. And it might just happen for the Bulls if Carter, White, and Dunn continue to play as well as they have.
Thanks for reading and GO BULLS!