Winning is like the willingness to dance at a wedding: It comes naturally to some and not to others. You always have the group of people who fly out of their seats the moment the DJ hits play. Conversely, you have the more nonchalant crowd that either sits smiling at the table or awkwardly hovering around the dance floor with a Moscow Mule.
As ridiculous as those on the hardwood look as they gyrate in a semi-concerning fashion and scream half of the right words to Mr. Brightside, there is no denying it looks they are having a good time (Michael: Welp, I can guess where Eli is usually standing). Everyone wants to enjoy themselves like that, but getting the gusto to do so isn’t easy. Literal hand-holding usually has to take place by a friend or significant other or family member to finally get a non-public-dancer to start dancing (and a few more of those Moscow Mules never hurts the cause).
The Bulls roster is hovering while Billy Donovan twerks and Arturas Karnisovas does the sprinkler 12 feet away. They not only have to get their boys to dance, but they have to make it natural. The process takes time and it’s uncomfortable. However, once Zach LaVine and Co. are screaming Party in the USA, a switch has likely finally flipped. For each wedding moving forward, things will be different.
• Nikola Vucevic spoke to all of this in his end-of-season press conference. The big man sounded nothing but optimistic about the direction of the organization, but he also didn’t shy away from addressing the fact that this team has a lot to learn (h/t Bulls.com): “The main thing is we just have to learn to win as a team. I think that takes time. You have to go through certain ups and downs to get there. I think this team was never put in a position where it had that pressure to win. I think you have to go through that.”
• While those final games of the season may not have felt like much from the outside, Vucevic, LaVine, Donovan, and Karnisovas have all labeled them a valuable test in one way or another. To be sure, they all said they failed the test, but they were all right in pointing out that it was the first time in quite some time the organization played for something. While plenty of annoying external factors played a role, this team saw how truly hard it is to win. They saw how close they were to a postseason berth, and they got the sour taste of losing it all. We can all only hope that taste doesn’t leave their mouths this summer. Ideally, it can work as the motivation this roster needs to get over the hump.
• Although, as I said in my stupid analogy above, it’s not all on them. Donovan and Karnisovas have to be the proper guidance. LaVine has won only 131 of 411 career games. Coby White has won only 52 of 134 career games. Patrick Williams has won only 30 of 71 career games. Hell, Vucevic has only won 252 of 668 career games. No one is questioning the talent each player possesses, but it’s hard to know how to win when all you’ve ever done is lose. Donovan and Karnisovas have the winning experience, so they need to play a pivotal role in laying the winning foundation. Fortunately, I think that process started this season.
• A large part of building a winner is adding the proper talent. I just want to note that Lonzo Ball – a fan-favorite free agent get and rumored point guard of interest – doesn’t necessarily cross the winning box. He, too, has only won 98 of 217 career games. I have no doubt he fits what the Bulls need on the court, but I think it’s a least somewhat noteworthy that winning has yet to follow him.
• Speaking of point guards, free agency technically isn’t the only way for the Bulls to add an impact player at the position. Even if they fail to keep their first-round draft pick, we can’t forget they (1) have a second-rounder and (2) could always trade back into the draft. Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman released a new big board, and it might not be a bad idea to start familiarizing ourselves with the point guard option in the backend of the lottery/first round (which could be easier to trade for) and those lurking in the early second round.
• I’m not going to turn this into a big deal, but why didn’t the Bulls try to answer some of their lead guard issues in the short term with a buyout signing? I guess they didn’t want to eat money by waiving someone, but a guy like Austin Rivers was sitting right there, and he has been really solid for the Nuggets. Who the hell knows if someone like him pushes the Bulls into the play-in tournament, but I feel like since it was a goal, it could not have hurt to try adding someone like that.
Game 4 – Sat, 4pm/et, TNT pic.twitter.com/QHJAcuusql
— NBA (@NBA) May 28, 2021
• Is that good?
Nikola Jokic is the first player to record 30 points and 50% shooting in each of his first 3 games of a postseason since Michael Jordan in 1992. pic.twitter.com/GpN6UaDtlp
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 28, 2021
• [beep boop bop can’t process image of hair]
— Tate Frazier (@tatefrazier) May 27, 2021
• The Vooch has spoken (also, not sure I would have picked Vucevic to be a Friends guy … the more ya know).
— Nikola Vucevic (@NikolaVucevic) May 28, 2021
• Get poked!
Doing our part to protect Chicago from COVID-19.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) May 27, 2021