One And Done

Eliminated. The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night, eliminating the Chicago Bulls from post-season contention. No playoffs, no play-in tournament, just one more, meaningless game against the Milwaukee Bucks before the Bulls are done. The 2020-21 season ends tonight.

It’s been a heck of a ride.

Looking back on everything that has transpired for the Bulls since the suspension of the 2019-20 NBA season due to Covid, it really has been a tumultuous year. We experienced the end of the GarPax Era, the beginning of the Arturas Karnisovas/Marc Eversley era, missing The Bubble, the firing of Jim Boylen and the surprise hiring of Billy Donovan, the surprise drafting of Patrick Williams, the ascension of Zach LaVine to All-Star, the surprise trade for a second All-Star in Nikola Vucevic, and the team moving on from the unfulfilled promise of players like Wendell Carter Jr, Chandler Hutchison, and Daniel Gafford. Ending the season on a dramatic, yet ultimately sour, note seems par for the course for this Bulls team.

So much change has happened already, and I have no doubt more change is yet to come, as we approach the second offseason for the Round Table. After tonight’s game, the next big event for the Bulls and us fans is the Draft Lottery on Tuesday, June 22nd. That will be the night when we learn if the Bulls find their way into the top 4 of the Draft, or if they have to hand their pick over to the Orlando Magic as part of the Vucevic trade. Currently, the Bulls have a 26.3% chance of jumping from the 8th pick in the draft to a top 4 pick. A win tonight against the Bucks will only lessen those odds. I hate to say it, but it’s in the Bulls best interest to lose tonight.

A loss is the expected outcome for the Bulls. The Bucks are still playing for playoff positioning, but it’s no guarantee that they won’t rest key players in order to be fresh for the playoffs. I guess we’ll know how intent each team is on winning by what they do with their rotations. I expect we’ll see a lot of playing time for Bulls bench players, but you never know, Donovan has been pretty consistent this season in playing the best players he has available. At least we’ve only had to endure two games of tanking this season, as opposed to the last three entire seasons of it. That’s progress.

Before I end this post today, I do want to highlight the solid performance of Patrick Williams in yesterdays loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Williams had a career high in points, leading the Bulls with 24 in the game. It was an easy 24 points too, and it left me wondering why we didn’t see more of this during the season. It’s nice that Williams is such a young rookie, with a ton of untapped potential, but I worry he doesn’t know how good he SHOULD be. He appears content to play 3rd or 4th fiddle on the team, even though he has shown flashes of being an incredibly dynamic player. He needs to take the next step. He needs to hunger for greatness. The Bulls are a better team when Patrick Williams is contributing on both ends of the court.

In the weeks ahead, I plan on passing out final grades for the season, going over any season ending press conferences Arturas might have, and there will be a few more posts on upcoming free agency. I’m holding off on serious draft coverage until we know whether or not the Bulls have a top 4 pick, but I’m also toying with outlining some possible scenarios before the Lottery takes place. Also, I plan on doing a post on the 2nd round draft-and-stash pick the Bulls made last year, Marko Simonivic. So plenty of things to look forward to as we coast into the offseason.

As always, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!