With just seven games left in the Chicago Bulls season, they aren’t in a good spot. The Bulls are currently the 12th seed in the East. They are four games behind the 10th seeded Washington Wizards. For the Bulls to put themselves into the play-in game they would have to win the majority of their remaining seven games and hope the Wizards and Raptors both fall apart. The Bulls let the season slip away from them and at this stage losing would do the most good for their future.
#Bulls currently hold the 7th-worst record in the NBA, 1 game clear (ahead? behind?) of Raptors.
If Bulls' 7th-worst spot holds, they'll have a 31.9% chance to land among top 4 in lottery and retain their pick, per @tankathon.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) May 4, 2021
In case you forgot the deal for center Nikola Vucevic included the Bulls first-round pick next year. However, that first-round pick was top 4 protected. So if the Bulls continue to lose and can somehow land in the top 4 they will keep that pick. This is the harsh reality Bulls fans face right now. It’s time for this team to tank the final 7 games.
What went wrong?
This is a tough one to answer but the make-up of the roster is the biggest culprit. Head coach Billy Donovan inherited a team filled with players from the previous front office. While the new front office made some big trades it wasn’t enough to offset the old group. The Bulls weren’t sure what they had in forward Lauri Markkanen and guard Coby White. They allowed the season to play out and both of them are coming off the bench now. Bench player or not Markkanen believes he should still be a starter. He also believes this team can still make the play-in game.
Lauri Markkanen: "I still believe I'm a starter in this league."
Said he isn't focused at all on RFA status or whether these might be his final games in Bulls uniform, only on trying to help Bulls make play-in.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 3, 2021
Regardless of what Markkanen may think the Bulls don’t appear to have much life left in them. Donovan did what he could with the group he had and unfortunately, they fell flat in the end.
Another key contributor was the overall team defense. Over the course of the season, it never seemed to get better. While there were bright spots with new center Daniel Theis the entire team didn’t match his defensive intensity. This put the Bulls in far too many shootouts and unless LaVine or Vucevic was hitting the team would most likely lose. The team’s defense hurt them in many ways. That’s one of the key reasons why they are in the position they are in.
Tank for the pick
At this point, it’s time to look towards next year. The one thing the team can do right now to put themselves in a better position next year is lose. Like I said earlier if they can land in the top 4 of the draft this team will keep their pick. That would be huge. They can add a young star to the LaVine and Vucevic duo and attract a big-time free agent. Keeping that pick is something I’m sure the players aren’t thinking about. Bulls fans however will have it on their mind. It sucks watching the Bulls lose but if it means a greater chance next year then I can suffer through. While it wouldn’t be a guarantee for the Bulls if they lose the rest of their games it certainly will help their odds.
— Salim (@JordanDynasty) May 4, 2021
Could the Bulls get lucky two years in a row? It’s definitely possible if they continue to lose.
LaVine is back
One factor that may get the Bulls wins is the return of shooting guard Zach LaVine. He’s been off for the last two weeks due to the league’s health and safety protocol. Last night he was officially cleared to begin individual workouts with the hope of him playing this week.
Chicago Bulls HC Billy Donovan said that guard Zach LaVine is no longer in the health and safety protocol and the hope is that he can play in Thursday’s game.
(Via Bulls FB Live)
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) May 3, 2021
LaVine has wanted to be in the playoffs his entire career. He certainly isn’t going to go into tank mode. Outside of a game with Detroit, the Bull’s remaining schedule is pretty tough. It would require some serious offensive performances from LaVine and Vucevic to get them some W’s in the final seven. It’s certainly possible especially if players begin resting in the next week.
It’s tough to come to the conclusion that your team’s season is essentially over with seven games remaining. But for the Bulls, it’s looking that way. With two teams ahead of them in the standings and neither of them looking like they will bend the Bulls will need to start looking ahead to next year.