Things are looking poorly for the Chicago Bulls these days, and their head coach is seemingly doing everything he can think of to turn the tide. That would include some eye-popping post-game comments after the Bulls’ fifth straight loss, an 11-point defeat at home against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, April 16.
A frustrated Donovan said he believes this current stretch is “great” for the team. The comment was captured by 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund.
Billy Donovan says #Bulls will find out how committed they are to winning now as they’ve hit adversity in the form of a 5-game losing streak, which is where he believe you learn the most about players.
“I think this is great for our team,” Donovan says.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) April 17, 2021
It’s probably difficult for any Bulls fan to see the “great” in a stretch that has seen the Bulls go 3-9 since the All-Star Break. The 12-game span has included all of the games with prized trade-deadline-acquisition Nikola Vucevic in the lineup.
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Hopes were high that Vucevic would put the Bulls over the hump, but instead, it appears Chicago has regressed. Now, the Bulls are looking at several games without leading scorer Zach LaVine.
Nothing seems great right now, but Donovan clearly sees this as a character-building stretch.
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Someone Has to Step Up in LaVine’s Absence
Coby White played one of his better games of the year in Friday’s loss to the Grizzlies. He battled Ja Morant and led Chicago with 27 points and seven assists. White also had five rebounds while making eight of 17 shots and four of eight three-point attempts. Best of all, he only had one turnover.
Vucevic had another double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds, but again, the interior defense was lacking as the Bulls surrendered 126 points overall and 52 percent shooting.
Defense is the biggest issue as teams have lit the Bulls up during the losing streak, but on offense, Chicago could use some more spirited outings from rookie Patrick Williams. He had just six points on eight shot attempts against Memphis.
Williams is just a rookie, but he was picked fourth overall. It might be time to take the training wheels off. His team desperately needs him to make his presence known outside of effort and careful play on the offensive end.
Is it Time for the Bulls to Tank?
As of the latest loss on April 16, the Bulls are 22-33 but still in the 10th playoff spot. Thus they would be eligible for the play-in tournament.
That said, based on what we’ve seen over the past month, you have to wonder if the Bulls are doing themselves any favors by making the postseason. The roster still needs an overhaul except for LaVine, Vucevic, and Williams. It might make more sense for the Bulls to allow themselves a better chance to land in the first four picks of the 2021 NBA Draft.
They owe the pick to the Orlando Magic as a part of the Vucevic deal, but only if it is outside of the first four selections. If tanking for the remainder of this season would increase the chances of the Bulls getting a chance to draft Cade Cunningham or Jalen Suggs, it might be more beneficial for Chicago to take the rest of the season on the chin.
Even if the Bulls don’t willingly tank, Chicago might still finish the season poorly enough to obtain the same result.