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Despite a veteran roster loaded with offensive talent, the Chicago Bulls have been one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference so far.
It’s been a tough stretch for the Chicago Bulls — losers of four in a row and six of their last seven games. They came into this season with serious playoff aspirations but currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, ranked just 22nd in offensive efficiency.
What’s not working for the Chicago Bulls right now?
Gottlieb started with the most obvious and immediate problems — injuries and age-related decline.
“The big concern that I had coming into the season,” said Gottlieb, “was you get this All-Star top-10 caliber season from DeMar DeRozan. What happens if he’s 90 percent or even 95 percent of what he was last year, where he’s not hitting back-to-back game-winners, where he’s not breaking Wilt Chamberlain records halfway through the season? Does that make them a 44-win team instead of 46. And I think you’re starting to see that regress a little bit towards what you know what might have been the normal last year. And then on top of it, you know, LaVine is coming back from this arthroscopic procedure over the summer. He has not looked anything close to what he has been.”
And of course, there is Lonzo Ball, who hasn’t played yet this year while he recovers from knee surgery, but was hugely important to Chicago’s hot start last season.
“And they are they’re absolutely missing him,” said Gottlieb. “I mean, the things that they did really well last year, and I keep coming back to this — but when they were playing at their best it was getting out in transition, it was shooting 3s at a really high level, it was defending that the point of attack at a really high level. And basically, those are all the things that Lonzo does.”
Having LaVine and Ball get healthy would make a big difference but the Bulls are still lacking quite a bit of shooting and they don’t have a ton of flexibility to improve their roster during the season. To their credit, their exploring other ways to create offense besides just relying on DeRozan to create something out of nothing.
“This year, I think they’re pretty cognizant of the fact that that’s not really a sustainable source of offense,” said Gottlieb. “They really fizzled out towards the end of last year and it just becomes too easy to guard when you know what’s coming every time down the floor. So they’re trying to implement some more movement, they’re bringing Vucevic more to the corners into the outer thirds of the court, which is allowing them to get into some more side pick-and-roll actions to you know, maximize his passing ability, which I think is one of his more underrated skills.”
In addition to the conversation with Gottlieb, Skolnick and Hawk dug into the dominating Boston Celtics and a series of mistakes by the Miami Heat.