YAMAProfGrades

We’re halfway through the Chicago Bulls season, and the beloved find themselves in a very disappointing 14 – 27 hole. For a team with preseason playoff ambitions, “disappointment” might be under selling it. The Bulls are bad, and my mid season grades reflect that fact.

The Bench:

Ryan Arcidiacono – Over the last couple seasons, we’ve watched the scrappy and undersized guard fight his way onto the Bulls roster one charge taken at a time. He received a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract this past summer for his efforts. Arch is averaging about 15 minutes a game, when he plays, and his big contribution to the team is his 3 point field goal percentage; He’s shooting over 41% from beyond the arc. Other than that improvement to his shooting, Arcidiacono is the same player he’s always been. Grade: C-

Cristiano Felicio – Big Cris has played 2 minutes this season and is making 8+ million dollars to do it. In some ways I feel like he’s doing everything that’s expected of him. Grade: A+ or F depending on how you want to spin it.

Daniel Gafford – For some unknown reason that most of us will never understand, Coach Jim Boylen sat Gafford the first month and a half of the season, refusing to play the rookie except for garbage time minutes. When Gafford got the chance to play some actual minutes, he exploded for 21 points and a myriad of blocks. Since his debut, it’s been a mixed bag for the young center, with the usual ups and downs, and injury scares, associated with a players rookie season. From what I’ve seen of the man, he has the potential to be a solid NBA big. I’m excited to see how he grows as a player over the next several seasons. Grade: B+

Shaquille Harrison – Much like Ryan Arcidiacono, Shaquille Harrison has had to earn every scrap of his NBA career. To that end he has had a very weird season. Shaq has had to ride the bench more often than not, going weeks without getting any game time, only to be unexpectedly inserted into the starting lineup for a game or two before being made inactive again for another several weeks. What’s been most impressive about Harrison, is that he has simply rolled with the punches. When given playing time, he’s responded with his familiar up tempo pace on offense, and smart tenacity on defense. He has made improvements to his three point shot, and plays hard when given the opportunity. Grade: C

Chandler Hutchison – Injured most of the season, Hutch has struggled to get back into the rotation. In limited play we’ve seen improvement in his outside shooting, and in his ability to get to the rim and draw fouls. Conversely, he does not finish well when he gets to the rim, routinely missing lay ups that should be automatic at the NBA level. Hutch also looks slow on defense. This might be a product of rust from his injuries, but the young wing has not been good enough on defense this season. Grade C-

Luke Kornet – The rim protecting stretch big is a bad fit for the aggressive defensive scheme the Bulls are running this season. He is not quick enough to recover back to the basket after blitzing the pick-and-roll ball handler at the top of the key. This was apparent after the first game of the season, but Boylen insists Kornet play that style of defense. Coupled with a down year on offense, Kornet has been painful to watch. Grade: D-

Otto Porter Jr – Has been injured most of the season, and no solid time table has been given for his return. Even before he got hurt, Porter was struggling with his game. He looked sluggish and out of shape, his shots weren’t falling, and he looked apathetic, just cycling through the motions of the game. Grade: D-

Denzel Valentine – The forgotten man, Denzel Valentine has languished on the bench for most of the season. Inexplicably in Jim Boylen’s dog house and seemingly incapable of exiting it, Valentine recently expressed his disappointment in not playing. Could a trade be on the horizon? The Bulls need a playmaker and a perimeter threat, the two skills Valentine possesses, and yet still he sits. Grade: C

Coby White – Just like fellow rookie Daniel Gafford, White has had his share of ups and downs this season. The biggest strike against White is his inconsistency in production. Some nights he’s the best player on the Bulls, other nights he’s a ghost, invisible on the floor and in the box score. For the most part I have been encouraged by what I’ve seen from White this season. He has a lot he can improve on, but you can tell he belongs in the NBA, and has the potential to be a very good player for a very long time. Grade: B+

Thaddeus Young – The veteran leader of this Bulls team has not had a very good season. He has struggled to adjust to his role coming off the bench, and was even complaining about a lack of playing time. That’s not why the Bulls brought you in Thadd! You were supposed to be a positive influence on the locker room, not a whiner. In his defense, Young is another player that Boylen is using incorrectly. He should be in the post, back-to-the-basket, banging down low, that’s where he is most effective on offense. Instead, the Bulls have him rotting on the perimeter waiting for someone to swing the ball around to him so that he can jack up a three. That’s not Thadd’s fault, that’s on the Bulls coaching staff. Grade: D

The Starters:

Wendell Carter Jr – Anchoring the defense has been the full time job of Wendell Carter Jr this season. The only reason the Bulls defense has looked as good as it has is because Carter has the quickness and intelligence to make up for all the schemes deficiencies. He is incredible to watch on D. And even with all his skill and poise as the defensive anchor, he can’t cover for all his teammates blown coverages and missed defensive rotations. With all his attention focused on guiding this team defensively, there has been little improvement on Carter’s offense, which is a shame because he could be just as talented a scorer and passer as he is a defender. Unfortunately, if things continue they way they have for Carter and the Bulls, we may never find out. Grade: B+

Kris Dunn – Dunn is trying to cement his reputation as a lock down defender in the league, and he is making some serious in roads. He is currently 2nd in the NBA in steals per game, averaging 2 a game. He embraced his role as a lock down defender this past summer, and his defense has been a bright spot during a dark season, but Dunn is far from a complete player. If he was still coming off the bench like he was at the beginning of the season, it might be easy to overlook his offensive deficiencies, but since he’s been moved into the starting line up for the injured Otto Porter Jr, it’s hard to gloss over their impact. As much good as Dunn contributes on defense, he equally hurts the Bulls on offense. Defenders sag off him, congesting the paint and making it hard for teammates to drive the lane or cut to the basket. His three point shooting has been atrocious, and his finishing at the rim has been inconsistent. As great as Dunn has been on defense, he is not a good fit offensively for this Bulls team. Grade: D

Zach LaVine – I was hoping for clear cut All-Star production from Zach LaVine this season, but there never seems to be anything clear cut about him, except his ability to score. Really what I was looking for from LaVine was an improvement in his overall basketball IQ. While there has been better decision making and playmaking this season, it still doesn’t seem to be enough to push the Bulls to wins. In a game where only 10 players are on the court at once, one player has an increased ability to will his team to victory. For the most part LaVine has not been that player. He has done it on occasion, but in terms of consistently willing the Bulls to wins, that hasn’t happened. A lot has been made by fans on the interwebs about the amount of points LaVine scores in crunch time (under five minutes left in the game with both teams separated by 5 or less points), and while those point totals are impressive, his win totals are not. A great player wins games. LaVine has not done that at a superstar level yet. Grade: C+

Lauri Markkanen – It seems as though Lauri has spent most of this season playing through injuries. I kind of hope that’s been the case because so far he has played poorly. Statistically, Markkanen is the exact same player he was his rookie year, and while he was a good rookie, his production is not enough to justify his place in the starting line up in year 3 of his career. Markkanen has been a giant disappointment, and his lack of improvement and aggressiveness has doomed the Bulls to another season of staring up the standings, hungry for the playoffs. Grade: F

Tomas Satoransky – I was really looking forward to watching Satoransky run the Bulls offense this season. I thought he would be a great Steward of the Point Guard position until Coby White was ready to take over the reigns. Unfortunately, Sato struggled with the Bulls multi ball-handler system for the first couple of months of the season, and only now seems to be understanding how it all works and his place in it. I’m afraid it’s too late for his improved production to make an impact on the rest of this season, but we’ll see. Grade: D-

Jim Boylen and the Coaching Staff – From the too complex, high risk/reward defensive scheme that Boylen insists on running, to the too complex and undefined offense he insists on running, the Bulls coaching has hurt this team more than any player or injury has this season. The coaching staff has failed to put players in the best positions and situations for success. They have failed to manage the clock and their timeouts effectively. They have failed to make in game adjustments to counter whatever opponents are throwing at them. They have failed to correctly use and evaluate their own personnel. Why was the talented Daniel Gafford sitting on the bench for the first month of the season? Why is playmaking Denzel Valentine still sitting on the bench? Because you said so???!!! What are you, two years old or something? Jim Boylen has failed this team, and the ramifications his failure spells out for the long term development of these young players, could be catastrophic for their careers and this franchise. Grade: F

The Front Office – I was on the Bulls playoff bandwagon this summer, and it was mostly because of the offseason GarPax gave us. Three solid free agent signings in Young, Satoransky, and Kornet. Two solid draft picks in White and Gafford. What was not to like? Enter the 2019-20 Season. Down goes Porter, down goes Hutch, where’s the wing depth? A new defensive scheme is introduced, one that Kornet and Gafford don’t fit. A new offensive scheme is introduced, one that Young doesn’t fit and Satoransky is neutered in. You would think that with all the great communication between the Front Office and it’s head coach, issues of roster to scheme fit wouldn’t arise, and yet here we are. The biggest failure by far for this inept and embarrassing Front Office, was the hiring of Jim Boylen as head coach of the Bulls. How can you put a rookie head coach in charge of a developing this talented squad? Especially a coach that has never shown a single sign of being a competent teacher or leader; A coach that inspired a mutiny less than a week on the job. Despite all that, I was willing to give Boylen a chance to right the ship and develop this team, but his failure has convinced me of one thing: It’s time to #FireGarPax. Grade: F