Happy Mother's Day, Checking on the Lottery Odds, Zach LaVine is Awesome, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Happy Mother’s Day, Checking on the Lottery Odds, Zach LaVine is Awesome, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Today is going to be Mom mania at my household. We’ll have my step-mom, my girlfriend’s mom, and a family-friend mom in attendance for brunch (all fully vaccinated, by the way). I look forward to the laughs, wine, cheese, jeans, and more wine.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

•   If the Chicago Bulls lottery odds continue to slip, you can blame the Indiana Pacers. While it’s still highly unlikely the Bulls sneak into the play-in tournament, their two wins in a row combined with a Pacers lost on Saturday has probably kept hope alive in the Bulls locker room. Indiana still sits 3.0 games ahead with only five matchups to go, but they have lost three of their last four games with a tough end-of-season slate remaining. The last five games of the season for the Pacers will come against the Cavaliers, 76ers, Bucks, Lakers, and Raptors.

•   Over the past two games, the Bulls have played some of their better basketball in recent months. The starting lineup that features Coby White, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic has proven to be a lethal offensive threat in this small sample size (+14.4 point differential per 100 possession in 33 minutes of play). Likewise, Daniel Theis and Patrick Williams have helped stabilize things on the defensive end. I expect the good fortune for this five-man combination to continue tonight against the last-place Detroit Pistons. However, I also expect fans to be reminded of how much work still has to be done this offseason in the games after that. The Nets and Bucks could be in a fight for playoff seeding until the very end, so their superstars are not going to take on the Bulls lightly.

•   If we are being honest, though, these opposing team’s might save the Bulls from themselves. The two back-to-back dominant victories over Top-8 teams in the East were fun, but they also dropped the organization’s top-4 lottery odds from 31.9 percent to 26.3 percent. If the team keeps winning, they could swap places with the Sacramento Kings, who are just 1.0 game better than the Bulls in league-wide standings and have a 20.3 percent shot a top-4 pick. Similarly, the New Orleans Pelicans (who just recently lost Zion Williamson) are only 2.0 games better than the Bulls. If Zach LaVine and Co. catch up, their top-4 odds would drop all the way to 13.9 percent.

•   I believe there are positives to playing competitive basketball at the end of this season, and I wrote about some of those positives briefly in yesterday’s bullets. At the same time, I also wrote that the ideal situation is to put up a fight while also maintaining the current odds. It’s an important balancing act that I’m interested to see if the Bulls can pull off.

•   FWIW: I also think we need to keep in mind that landing in the top-4 is not the only way the Bulls could have a draft pick this summer. Trading into the first-round is always an option, and I do think that if Arturas Karnisovas saw a sleeper talent he liked, he would make a strong effort to go and get him. We still don’t know much about Karnisovas, but what we do know is that he (1) is a high-quality talent evaluator and (2) has a knack for getting what he wants. It’s something to keep an eye on.

•   Whether a fan embraces the tank or not, no one can deny this is fun to see …

•   All we have seen Zach LaVine do over the past several seasons is improve.

•   Come on, that is some ridiculously elite company for LaVine. Nothing has been more fun to watch in Chicago this season than his scoring efficient skyrocket. One of the biggest knocks for years on LaVine was his inability to play winning basketball, and while the Bulls record this season has not changed much, the perception of LaVine has thanks to the numbers. He is shooting a career-high percentage from almost every imaginable area on the court. His overall effective field goal percentage has gone from ranking in the 56th percentile last season (53.0 percent) to the 91st percentile this season (59.8 percent), per Cleaning the Glass.

•   The next step for LaVine – other than to show continued strides on the defensive end – is to take more trips to the charity stripe. His 5.1 free-throw attempts per game are the second-fewest among the 10 players averaging 27.0 or more points this season. If he can start to more consistently get the refs to blow the whistle, think about how even more staggering his numbers could become.

•   This man is absurd.



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is a writer for Bleacher Nation and a human being. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.