Welp, the Chicago Bulls are currently sitting at 11-18. Amidst a 4-game losing streak, they currently rank 22nd in offensive rating and 17th in defensive rating. They take the least 3-point shots in the NBA and are 24th in rebounding.
We have a word for how the Bulls are doing in the world of academia—it's okay if you don't know it. We call it garbage. The Bulls have been garbage. Apparently, the players have perceptively picked up on it as well.
According to reports and confirmed by Billy Donovan, Bulls' players blew up on each other at halftime in their most recent game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Chicago had just given up 71 (yes, you read that number correctly) points in the first half, and frustration was mounting as they prepared to lose their fourth in a row. Things then boiled over in the locker room, and it looks like Zach LaVine took the brunt of it.
There's a lot to unpack here. However, you can't call this a surprise by any definition. You can also suspect that Goran Dragic was a key figure in the locker room exhibiting that frustration. You saw it on the court as the game went on.
It is fair to a certain extent. The Bulls have two ball-dominant players who need the ball in their hands and play a lot of iso ball. One of them—DeMar DeRozan—is averaging 25.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 4.7 APG on 50.4% shooting. He's taking 8.2 free throws per game and making 89.1 percent of them. DeRozan is sporting a PER of 21.8.
The other—LaVine—averages 21.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 4.1 APG on 44.3% shooting. LaVine is also shooting 36.5% from three on 7.7 attempts per game and turning the ball over 2.6 times per game. His PER is just above league average at 15.9.
LaVine has not been as effective as you need from a player who just signed a max contract, and he has had several possessions where he has unsuccessfully tried to play hero ball.
To be fair, the Bulls simply don't have great options outside of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic to score. Outside of those three, there isn't a single Bulls player averaging double digits in scoring. Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, and Ayo Dosunmu all average over 25 minutes per game, and they can't crack the 10-PPG mark.
Dragic himself had a great start to the season. However, over the past 10 games, Dragic is shooting just 30.8% from three on 2.6 attempts per game. It's really hard to "play for each other" when you can't trust the players around you too, you know, score (a relatively important skill in basketball since at least 1891).
Yes, the on-court chemistry between DeRozan and LaVine needs to be ironed out. It hasn't worked as well this year as it did last year. LaVine and the organization aren't seeing eye to eye. It has the makings of a meltdown unfolding before our eyes. And, you know what, fair.
It's fair to be frustrated with the results that Zach LaVine is putting out on the court. He was one of the most efficient scorers in all of basketball last year, and that simply has not been the case this season.
It's also fair to be frustrated with the organization. They needed to surround DeRozan and LaVine with shooters who can space the floor and cut to the basket. Instead, the Bulls have a team full of dudes who just stand there, don't move around, and can't shoot the basketball. It's pretty pathetic all around.
It will be interesting to see if the Bulls can recover from this and make things better. If not, you have to imagine a blow-up of the roster is on the horizon. After all, the players are already starting to blow up themselves.