Nothing’s been smooth about Nikola Vucevic’s transition to the Chicago Bulls since the trade deadline, and in fact, the numbers say the team was (and is) better off without the All-Star big man.
The team is 4-9 since acquiring the 30-year old, but snapped a five-game losing streak on Saturday with their win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Vucevic is averaging 22.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, a steal, and a block as a member of the Bulls.
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Chicago’s Best Five-Man Lineup?
In his latest for Bleacher Report, Every NBA Team’s Best 5-Man Lineup This Season, Dan Favale revealed that the Chicago Bulls have played some of their best basketball without Vucevic on the floor.
He awarded Coby White, Zach LaVine, Troy Brown Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Daniel Theis as the team’s best five-man lineup. And even though two of those guys came over from the trade deadline, this lineup has seen some major run since:
Brown, LaVine, Theis, Lauri Markkanen and Coby White make up Chicago’s second-most played quintet since the trade deadline. Their sample size is tiny relative to the entire season but not so much in the pantheon of Bulls lineups.
Favale cited the team’s net and offensive rating as benchmarks for the lineups ranking, with both numbers in the upper echelon tier wise:
Only 15 of the team’s other combinations have logged more court time for the entire year. None leap off the page as demonstratively. This clique has a raw net rating of 77.4 and offensive rating of 162.5, marks anchored by their 53.8 percent shooting from downtown (7-of-13) and 84.6 percent conversion rate around the rim.
Admittedly, the article was written before the Bulls’ previous two games, but both were without LaVine. The guard is out indefinitely as he was entered into the league’s health and safety protocol on Friday.
It seems unlikely that Chicago is in fact better off without Nikola Vucevic, but this should be taken into account when referencing how hard things have been integrating the All-Star since his arrival. And it’s only getting tougher.
Updated Bulls Playoff Odds
After their victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, the Chicago Bulls are 23-33.
That’s good for the Eastern Conference’s 10th-seed, with a number of teams (Toronto, Washington) hot on their heels for the final play-in spot.
Likely taking Zach LaVine’s undefined absence into account, Five Thirty Eight has the Bulls’ playoff chances at a six percent likelihood. That’s good for the worst odds among teams with a greater than one percent chance.
The website’s forecast heavily favors Toronto to make the postseason, with an 18 percent chance. Washington has just five percent odds.
And Tankathon.com has Chicago’s remaining schedule as the sixth-toughest in the entire NBA.
The odds are against the Chicago Bulls, now without their top player for an extended time, even after snapping their losing streak.
16 games to go.
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