Grizzlies Come to Town, Big Man Help, DeRozan’s Improving MVP Odds, and Other Bulls Bullets

I want to start your day with some good news: The Chicago Bulls will not play on national television tonight!

•   While it’s possible the team broke their national TV curse when they tore apart the Hornets on ESPN at the start of this most recent six-game win-streak, I’m not prepared to test that theory. The Bulls were on quite the unfortunate stretch of big-stage blowout losses, and the Grizzlies were responsible for one of those back on January 17th. Six Memphis players scored in double figures as they shot an efficient 51.1 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from long-range. They absolutely decimated the Bulls in the points in the paint battle, outscoring Chicago 64-38.

•   Not only did the size and length of guys like Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams give the Bulls depleted frontcourt trouble, but the explosive and physical driving ability of Ja Morant still made quite the impact despite the third-year guard scoring a somewhat tamed 25 points. The good news, though, is the Bulls now have Tristan Thompson stationed behind Nikola Vucevic in the rotation.

•   While the big man doesn’t cover up every hole this team has down low, we all saw what he is capable of on Thursday night. A high-energy big who isn’t afraid to take a hit, Thompson gives the Bulls a much-needed rebounder and post presence when Vucevic is off the floor. Even if he doesn’t walk off the court with the same kind of 11-point, 6-rebound performance we saw against the Hawks, I tend to believe matchups like the one tonight will be where we truly feel his impact.

•   More on Thompson’s debut …

•   Until the pen is put to paper, we have to remain on Zach LaVine Free Agency Watch. To be sure, everything that has been said from both parties thus far has been pretty much what you’d want to hear, and that alone lets us know things are trending in a positive direction. The Bulls seem prepared to sign LaVine his max check this summer, and Bulls President Michael Reinsdorf hinted at as much in his most recent conversation with NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson: “My hope is that he’s here for years to come. And Zach knows how we feel about him.”

•   Reinsdorf also went on to say the organization will surely go into the luxury tax if it means competing for a championship. I think most of us will take a “we’ll believe when we see it” approach to that remark, but ownership does seem to have faith in this new front office.

•   As the regular season winds down, it’s becoming harder and harder for people to keep DeMar DeRozan out of the MVP conversation. Practically every winner of the coveted award has some kind of historic accomplishment to point to, and DeRozan has certainly checked that box with his record-breaking streak of eight-straight games with 35+ points on 50+ percent shooting from the field. Not to mention, DeRozan advocates can also point toward his league-high 1,584 points this season, as well as his 55 percent field goal percentage in the 4th quarter. And that’s exactly what The Athletic Zach Harper did, who ranks DeRozan 2nd on Harper’s current MVP ballot.

•   Meanwhile, Stephen A. Smith also started to push the DeRozan bandwagon forward earlier this week, telling viewers that “nobody can be placed definitively ahead of DeMar DeRozan for league MVP honors.”

•   Even the Sportsbooks have started to catch up. According to the Action Network and NBA dot com, DeRozan started this season with +5000 odds to win MVP and now sits at +1600. In other words, he now has the 6th-best odds to win the award at PointsBet Sportsbook. FanDuel gave the All-Star Starter even more respect by promoting him to the 4th-best odds.

•   Two nights after holding Trae Young to just 14 points on 3-17 shooting, Ayo Dosunmu will get the Ja Morant test.

•   If now crosses Morant up like this, I’ll probably faint.

•   Close enough, in my opinion.

https://twitter.com/demarvelousmvp/status/1497203238793265165?s=20&t=kYFsD7o31qAN9PPvzHwYvQ

•   The Derrick Rose injury trouble continues.

•   Hire AK as a consultant on off-days.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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