Hello. It’s been a while since we last talked about basketball, the Bulls, and the rancid 2019-20 season. It’s been so long, in fact, I’ve mostly forgotten what happened this past season. I have decided that my brain had a good reason for erasing those memories and I’m just going to trust it. My grading of each Chicago Bull will therefore be based on whatever I can remember of their performance and how it effected the team without going back and actually doing any research, or looking at stats, or reviewing games and stuff. Considering all the actual important worries and stresses that are going on in the world today, my brain and subconscious have been working overtime trying to keep me sane, no reason to tax them even further by regurgitating a bad Bulls season. With that said, let’s go in alphabetical order, because why not:
Ryan Arcidiacono – Arch had a very Arch like season. He played hard, gave good effort, and wasn’t very effective on the court. At this point in his career, you kind of know what you’re going to get from him.
Wendell Carter Jr. – Wendell was the anvil of Jim Boylen’s blitzing defense, providing a strong base off of which his teammates could work. If someone was out of position Carter would slide to cover. He would routinely cover as many as three offensive players on any given possession; Blitzing the ball-handler, sprinting back to cover the roller, sliding across the paint to contest the player camping or cutting under the basket. WCJ was a major reason the Bulls had a top 10 defense for most of the season. As good as his defense was, Wendell struggled on offense. He never really seemed comfortable in the Bull’s multi-ballhandler perimeter oriented system, and he rarely asserted himself on the offensive end of the court. He also struggled grabbing rebounds.
Kris Dunn – If Wendell Carter was the anvil of the defense, Kris Dunn was the hammer. He was one of the league leaders in steals until his untimely injury, and his lock down perimeter defense quickly moved him from off the bench and into the starting line up. But much like Carter, Dunn struggled on offense. His shooting, which has always been a trouble spot, seemed to regress this season, making him a liability on offense. Any time Dunn was on the court, it was like the Bulls were playing 4 on 5. Defenders would sag off of Dunn, clog the lane or double team Zach LaVine, making whatever they were trying to run useless.
Cristiano Felicio – Cris didn’t play much, which was fine with everybody. But then a bunch of the Bulls centers got injured and Cris found himself playing a large number of minutes. Unsurprisingly, Felicio still isn’t great at basketball.
Daniel Gafford – For whatever reason, Jim Boylen refused to play Gafford meaningful minutes early in the season. After a series of injuries forced the coaching staff to throw him in the deep end, everyone found out Gafford could swim in the NBA ocean. As a rookie without a ton of weapons in his arsenal, Gafford proved to be a serviceable NBA big man; his size and athleticism kept him relevant in a league that is increasingly looking for perimeter oriented big men.
Shaquille Harrison – Was a poor man’s version of Kris Dunn. Not as talented defensively as Dunn, Harrison worked incredibly hard to be the gadfly in his opponents soup. He plays small, and can’t defend as many positions as Dunn does, but he is a better perimeter shooter than Kris, a skill Shaq obviously worked on a lot over last summer. It was a solid season from Shaq, one he should be able to build on.
Chandler Hutchison – … spent most of the season injured. When he did play he showed he had the ability to get to the bucket and draw fouls. He wasn’t great finishing at the rim, or hitting his free throws, but at least he got to the foul line. Hutchison has a lot to work on, and he needs to prove he can stay healthy for an entire season.
Luke Kornet – I had big hopes for Kornet as a possible rim protector and perimeter threat. Those hopes were quickly dashed when Boylen refused to play anything other than his blitzing defense. Kornet is not fast enough to cover the perimeter defensively, and then dash back down to block shots in the paint. Kornet was misused on defense and I think it effected his offense, because he sucked on that end too. While a lot of Kornet’s issues were due to poor coaching, he still didn’t live up to expectations.
Zach LaVine – Zach got off to a slow start but really picked up his game after a mid-season benching by Boylen. Immediately after the benching, LaVine strung together a series of games that put him among the top scorers of the league. Even with his early season struggles, LaVine was the best player on the Bulls. He won as many games as he lost for the Bulls, which is a big improvement for the future All-Star. With so much potential and his prime years just around the corner, it’s hard not to get excited about the future and Zach LaVine.
Lauri Markkanen – Lauri looked lost for most of the 2019-20 campaign. He might have played through an early season injury. He definitely didn’t play through a late season injury. He mostly sat on the perimeter and jacked up three’s, at least that’s what I remember. It was another season of regression from Markkanen, and it helped sink the Bulls.
Adam Mokoka – One of the Bulls two-way G-League players, Mokoka had some bright spots when he got minutes. A decent defender with the ability to hit three pointers, he might have a future in the NBA.
Otto Porter Jr. – Otto didn’t play much this season, and when he did, he looked out of shape and disinterested in basketball.
Tomas Satoransky – Sato didn’t live up to expectations this season. He seemed tired in the early part of the season, probably from playing with the Czech Republic national team during the summer. He never got comfortable with his teammates, and his average talent yielded average results.
Max Strus – The other G-Leaguer on a 2-way contract, Max played even less than Adam Mokoka, suffering an injury early in the season.
Denzel Valentine – Denzel Valentine spent an enormous portion of the season in Jim Boylen’s dog house, no one is really sure why. Valentine is the perfect mix of playmaker and deadeye from beyond the arc, two things the Bulls desperately needed last season, but Boylen refused to play him. When he did get some run, Valentine played at the pace of an old dude in a pickup game at the Y.
Coby White – Coby had an uneven rookie season. He had some special nights where he broke records and looked like an unstoppable force, and he had some very forgettable nights where he didn’t do much at all. He had nights that made you wonder if he was the best player on the team, and other nights where you just wondered where he was at. On the up side, it looked as though he was putting it all together just as the season was suspended. He had played two solid weeks of great basketball, and had finally forced the coaching staff to put him in the starting line up when Covid hit.
Thaddeus Young – It was an average season for Thadd Young. He was asked to do a lot of “new” things with his new team, and he adapted about as well as he could. Forced to play on the perimeter more than he has in the past, Young showed an ability to knock down threes, which complimented his always capable interior play. Thadd was brought in to be a leader and mentor to the Bull’s roster, and this is where he kind of failed. He spent a good portion of the season unhappy with his role coming off the bench, and his playing time in general, not a great look for a team leader. Whether his disgruntled attitude was justified or not (it was), it’s tough on a roster when the veteran leader is obviously upset with how the team is being run.
Jim Boylen and Coaching Staff – Misusing players, mismanaging games, and failing to make adjustments to schemes that weren’t working, seem to be the hallmarks of the Jim Boylen coaching style. With hopes and expectations high that the Bulls might be competitive this past season, it was a severe disappointment that Boylen and the rest of the Coaching Staff failed the team as aggressively as they did. It’s not rocket science, it’s basketball; even I know Luke Kornet can’t be expected to blitz the ball handler on a pick-and-roll, change the scheme up! Hopefully, we won’t have to endure much more of that kind of foolish, stubborn coaching.
GarPax/Arturas and the Round Table – This is really the tale of two Front Offices. GarPax made some nice moves over last summer bringing in some solid free agent talent in Sato, Thadd, and Kornet. They also made adequate draft picks in White and Gafford. But they failed to secure a backup player for the often injured Otto Porter Jr, and that lack of foresight doomed the Bulls chances at a competitive season. Without a genuine “3” backing up Porter, Boylen was forced to go with a three guard lineup for the majority of the season, which severely limited what they could accomplish on the offensive end of the court.
When GarPax were removed from power it felt like things were finally going to be okay for the Bulls. Arturas and his Round Table quickly identified the lack of player development as a huge problem for the organization, and spoke about changing the image players around the league have of the Bulls brand. Everything was peachy keen, but they have yet to fire Boylen and his staff, which is leading to grumbling not only among fans, but also from a number of players on the roster. It’s time for a fresh start!
GarPax Grade: D
Arturas and the Round Table Grade: B
The Reinsdorfs – The Reinsdorf Family finally changed the Front Office, thank you! They also paid stadium employees and vendors for services that were no longer necessary due to Covid 19, another positive. They have also gotten in the way of their new Front Office by supporting a lame duck coach in Jim Boylen. Jerry Reinsdorf was also recently quoted as saying the losses his two sports franchises sustained due to Covid 19 was nine figures long. Boo-fucking-hoo. People are dying and you’re worried about a fraction of your wealth? Get over it Jerry.
There you have it, grades for the Bulls and this awful 2019-20 season. Let me know what you think of this past season, and as always, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!