During the offseason, the Chicago Bulls signed some notable names in free-agency and filled social media timelines with positive news about volunteer workouts, players in the best shape of their lives, and whathaveyou. But then, in their most daring work, they set themselves a lofty goal: the playoffs.
The Bulls may have been able to drum up some offseason hype from us, but one of their most praised offseason acquisitions wasn’t really buying it: “I thought the expectation was kind of really high for us,” Tomas Satoransky told NBC Sports Chicago. “Everyone talked about playoffs. We have a lot of players who have never been on a winning team. That’s a hard thing to do. It’s not going to change like that.”
Sato is speaking the truth.
After everything we’ve seen, it’s pretty remarkable this group spoke so confidently about a playoff push (Michael: Remarkable is one word. Funny is another). Yes, the Bulls are technically only 3.5 games out at the moment, but a playoff appearance feels – and is – galaxies away (they’d have to go at least 15-14 from here on out). Not to mention, if the Bulls did somehow manage to squeak in, it would be more about the Eastern Conference’s lack of legitimate competition than anything they uniquely deserved or earned.
In any case, this is the first time we’ve seen a player come out and call the playoff aspirations what they were – ambitious.
With all of that said, I can commend Satoransky for speaking the truth … but it’s more than a little frustrating to hear, when he hasn’t looked like that final “playoff piece” this team needs (and he was supposed to be).
Admittedly, I was as high on Satoransky as anybody, when the Bulls made the move. And frankly, I’m not off the bandwagon yet (I think in the right system with the right head coach, Satoransky probably could thrive (which is something that can be said for a few Bulls players, unfortunately)). But I concede he hasn’t lived up to the hype.
Satoransky may be averaging career-highs across the board this season (10.1 ppg, 5.3 ast, 3.7 reb), but he’s also struggled to find any level of consistency with this first unit. Worse, he ranks 35th in assists per game this season, which is not great considering the expectations laid out before him last summer as the primary distributor and playmaker.
And it’s not like making up for it in other areas on the court, right? Satoransky will have a four-game stretch where he scores in double-figures and dishes out six or more assists, and then he’s right back to single-digit outings with three or four assists at the final buzzer. For a point guard who’s supposed to have as high of a basketball IQ as anybody, what we’ve seen from Satoransky so far isn’t going to cut it.
To be fair, he does seem to understand the limits of his performance and how it’s impact this team (NBC Sports Chicago), but you’ll forgive me if the welcomed self-awareness is just less than fulfilling.
No matter his thoughts on this team future, as playoff contention drifts away, development will takeover (Coby White is waiting patiently on the sideline for his opportunity to start). Hopefully, Satoransky will eventually be open to coming off the bench for a while (at least towards the end of the year). And who knows? Perhaps, he’s better suited for it.