Is it officially time for the Bulls to hit the panic button? After back-to-back gut-wrenching losses to the New York Knicks and a 24-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, it might be. The Timberwolves scored the most points in franchise history against the Bulls Sunday (150), while Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert were out.
This is the first time since 1982 the Bulls allowed 150 points in regulation.
The Bulls held their ground in the first half, only trailing by six at halftime, but the offense couldn’t keep up after that. The defense was unable to defend in the second half, as Minnesota scored 79 points in the final two periods.
The Timberwolves made 23 3-pointers (53.5%) and 34 two-point shots (77.3%) on incredible efficiency.
The Knicks traveled to Chicago twice since Wednesday, and the Bulls lost by a combined 31 points. The back-to-back losses send the Bulls to an abysmal 11-18 record, 11th in the Eastern Conference.
For a team that intended to play past the first round of the playoffs, the 2022-23 Bulls’ season has been a complete disaster.
In most aspects, the Bulls have underperformed this season.
Overall, the Bulls hold an 110.7 offensive rating, which is 21st in the league. When executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas added Nikola Vučević and DeMar DeRozan in the past two seasons, the Bulls looked to have a three-headed offensive monster alongside Zach LaVine. The trio hasn’t performed to expectations together, as Vucevic’s scoring has been at his lowest since the 2017-18 season with the Orlando Magic, and LaVine’s had a dip in scoring and efficiency.
The Bulls had three-point shooting issues once sharpshooter Lonzo Ball went down last season, and that trend has continued.
The Bulls shoot the least amount of threes per game, but make 36.2 percent of the shots. Coby White has been abysmal from deep, shooting at a career low from the mark (32.6%). Since he’s entered the league, White has shot more threes per game than two-pointers. In his fourth season with the Bulls, White has shown a drastic decrease in nearly all offensive categories. On the other side, Goran Dragić has been a solid contributor off the bench, where he’s shooting exceptionally from deep (39.2%), the best mark since his 2016-17 campaign with the Miami Heat.
There are many things that don’t show up in the box score that have led to the Bulls’ disappointing start. A consistent lack of effort goes a long way in an 82-game season.
Whether that means getting back on transition defense, protecting the basket on help defense or sliding over to defend the three, the Bulls have struggled. If the Bulls’ performance continues to decline, some important pieces could be shipped away for much-needed draft capital. The two main targets of the trade deadline would be DeRozan and Vučević, and both are favorable targets for contending teams. The Bulls added Vuc in 2021, when Chicago sent two first-round picks (2021 and 2023), Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. to the Orlando Magic.
Vučević is likely to be the first traded, because he’s an unrestricted free agent after the season. Any team could use him for the remainder of the season and attempt a contract extension if he performs well.
DeRozan has resurged as a top scorer while with the Bulls, so every contending team would improve with him on the roster. The Bulls signed him to a three-year contract, so the team would have one more year of control after the season. The Bulls could get impressive returns from both players, making up for the capital lost the past few seasons.