The Bulls’ big three has been underwhelming, to say the least. Their best argument for staying together is that they’ve only had one full season with a healthy point guard, but in a year full of disappointment, these three proved they’re not cohesive. None of the three are having a noticeably down year, and in fact, they could argue they’re having one of the best seasons of their respective careers and in a Bulls’ uniform. So why haven’t these three former All-Stars led Chicago to more than a sub-.500 record for the entire year and a 10th seed in the Play-In Tournament when it was all said and done? Let’s dive in.
Time To Part Ways
If this doesn’t tell the whole story, nothing does. Three All-Stars not finding a way to contribute simultaneously to winning basketball is beyond alarming for Chicago. Half a dozen point guards have been filtered in the lineup this season, but regardless of who’s manning the position, this stat is simply unacceptable. Chicago sold the farm to obtain Nikola Vucevic a few seasons ago to pair with the rising star Zach LaVine, and they barely missed the playoffs. A year later, DeMar DeRozan signs with the team and is instantly catapulted to their top player, putting himself in the MVP conversation, leading the Bulls to the top seed in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break, and scoring 41-points in the Bulls’ first playoff appearance and win in five years.
When this trio all play well simultaneously, they are one of the league’s most potent trios in the NBA on both ends of the floor. The problem is consistency and how often they all find their stride with one another on the court. LaVine and DeRozan are both very ball-dominant players, and Vucevic’s production comes from in the post, where DeRozan also prefers to operate. It creates too much overlap and collision play-styles, rendering one another less effective when playing together. All three are below-average defenders, creating deficits they simply cannot climb out of nightly.
There has often been a debate about who deserves the ball late in games. DeRozan is the more seasoned veteran and consistent clutch playmaker, yet LaVine is the more dangerous scorer and shooter from three-point territory.
Best Time To Revamp
Whether it’s mostly due to injuries, play styles, or lack of production, now is the best time to call this experiment a failure and move on from the big three in Chicago. Nikola Vucevic’s contract is now expired, and he is an unrestricted free agent following this season. He’ll be a highly touted one, too, seeing that the market for centers is extremely dry as it is. Add in Vucevic’s career year and Myles Turner’s extension in Indiana, expect the Bulls’ big man to demand an expensive price tag and have many suitors for the three-point shooting center. He finished top-three in the league in double-doubles, top-five in rebounds, and played all 82 games for the first time in his 11-year career.
DeMar DeRozan has been rumored to request a max contract extension this summer, which he deserves, but hopefully not in the Windy City. His two seasons in Chicago have redefined his career, being the first time he’s had back-to-back seasons of 24 or more points per game with 50% or better from the field. He’s also averaging five rebounds and assists per game over his Bulls stint and playing an impressive 36 minutes per contest, only missing 14 games in his two seasons there. Where’s the bad news?
DeRozan will be 34 years old before next season tips off and is under contract for one more season with the Bulls. Now would be the time to pull the trigger on a trade to a team that needs instant offense and veteran leadership and one willing to extend the Bulls’ superstar at the lucrative price tag he’s demanding and deserving of. If Chicago can get a package similar to Kyrie Irving, Rudy Gobert, or other stars that have been traded in the past few seasons, that would fast-track their roster restructure and provide stability for a franchise that only owns one of their first-round picks over the next three years and zero second-round selections.
Is a rebuild around Zach LaVine the best option for the Chicago Bulls’ future, or should they scrap the entire thing and start from scratch? Whatever direction they choose this offseason will alter the franchise for years to come and could see an entire roster reconstruction following an extremely disappointing 2022-23′ season.