Time for More Derrick Jones Jr.? No Stopping Embiid, DeMar’s Shopping Spree, and Other Bulls Bullets

I came into last night’s game with little confidence the Bulls would take down a Philly team that has stood undefeated since James Harden arrived. And that confidence only dwindled further when Nikola Vucevic was officially ruled out roughly an hour before tip-off.

So while I may have still ended the night irked by a five-game losing streak, I didn’t find myself all that angry. What this recent stretch has reminded us is the Chicago Bulls are still very much a work in progress. Not only is there a significant lack of collective experience, but the Bulls have been built so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The Bulls rely on a balanced attack more than a handful of teams around the league. They don’t have a Giannis Antetokounmpo or a Joel Embiid or a Nikola Jokic or a Kevin Durant that can drag them through the mud. Sure, DeRozan did it for a little. And, yes, LaVine has his moments. But neither has reached that tippy-top level where they can hoist their team over each obstacle. That isn’t to say it can’t happen eventually (that’s part of where experience comes in), but it’s why the Bulls sit where they do right now.

•   Do the Bulls win that game with Nikola Vucevic? Who knows, but the team did miss him last night. The defense got to focus that much more on both perimeter threats without Vucevic’s inside presence and passing skills. Not to mention, the lane found itself clogged at times without his spacing ability. There is also no question his seven-foot frame would have been nice in a matchup with the 76ers’ MVP candidate. No, I’m not trying to sit here and pretend Vucevic would have made a significant difference stopping Embiid, but does he foul a bit less? Maybe.

•   Vucevic tends to do a decent job of not sending folks to the free-throw line. You can perhaps chalk that up to a lack of physicality, but it’s not like the 29 minutes of Thompson’s chippiness swung the game in the Bulls’ direction. The backup big man picked up 5 fouls (paving the way for some extra Tony Bradley minutes, which did not go well), helping Embiid match his second-best scoring total of the season at 43 points. The 16 free throws he shot last night were his most in any of the four matchups against the team this season. Again, to be sure, while Vucevic’s size and shooting may have made a bit of a difference, it’s not like anyone on this team was going to contain Embiid. He is as overpowering as he is crafty, and the pick-and-roll he ran side-by-side with James Harden was as lethal as expected.

•   I mentioned this briefly the other day, but I think it’s already time to mention it again: Derrick Jones Jr. should get more run. With Vucevic on the sideline, head coach Billy Donovan did turn back to that ultra-small lineup with Jones at center. We first got a real taste of this when Vucevic was sidelined due to COVID, and we continued to see Donovan turn to it at times depending on the matchup. It gives the Bulls an extremely switchable defense and only plays to their strengths of a transition-centric offense. I understand this can’t be used in every situation, but I feel like it can be a go-to look in short spurts against a handful of teams. The sheer athleticism it allows for the Bulls to have on the court is unmatched, and Jones does have the length, verticality, and elasticity to contest shots on end while putting pressure on the rim out of the PnR on the other.

•   But, hey, if you don’t want to play him more at center, just give him a bit more run at power forward! I have no question continuing to turn to Jones is a better option than the recent two-big lineup Donovan has tested out. In fact, according to Cleaning the Glass, the Bulls have a +9.3 efficiency differential (94th percentile) when Jones is in at power forward. That’s like, uh, really good. I also can’t help but think about the help he’s brought on the offensive glass. For a Bulls team that continues to get killed in this department, Jones has averaged roughly 2.0 OREBs a game when he clocks at least 20mins of action. His OREB% ranks in the NBA’s 77th percentile, per Dunks & Threes. We saw this on display last night as half of his six boards came on the offensive glass, two of which came accompanied by a quick putback for the score.

•   I tip my hat to Coby White. It may not have been the most efficient performance, but his 19 points with the second unit did help the Bulls win the bench points battle for the first time in this season series.

•   We dove deeper into just how much things have changed since Caruso and Ball left the floor. It ain’t an excuse … but it ain’t pretty.

•   If the Bulls’ updates before every game didn’t make it clear, DeMar DeRozan is one of the NBA’s sneaker kings. He recently went shopping with Complex while giving some cool background on his love for the shoe game. Oh, and he also reminds all of us what it’s like to be an NBA All-Star as he casually drops 12,000 dollars on shoes and clothes at the end of this video. Just your typical Saturday. 

•   I’m not going to dive too deep into this, but I do think fans tend to forget an athlete is also living a real life. Talk your trash. Tweet your memes. But rarely is it ever worth making it personal.

•   *deep breath* NOOOOOOOOO!!!

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.

more bulls news

Enhanced Box Score: Bulls 113, Kings 109 – March 4, 2024

Ayo Dosunmu was the first to show he was up for the challenge. The Chicago Bulls' combo guard scored 7 of the team's first 9 points, paving the way for a strong first half on both ends of the floor....

Coby White Scores New Career-High in Huge Comeback Win Over Kings

Coby White refused to lose on Monday night. In their first game of a tough four-game Western Conference road trip, the Chicago Bulls found themselves down as much as 22 points to the Sacramento Kings. The well-balanced scoring attack of...

OH MY: COBY WHITE PUT HARRISON BARNES ON A POSTER

Coby White's confidence is at an all-time high. When the Chicago Bulls needed a spark to begin the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings, White provided just that. The 23-year-old guard first scored on a quick layup before splashing a...

Pre-Gamin’: Chicago Bulls at Sacramento Kings (9:00 CT), Projected Lineups, How to Watch, More

Let's try to not spot them a 30-point lead this time around. https://twitter.com/chicagobulls/status/1764675060382437572?s=20 Game Info Chicago Bulls (28-32) at Sacramento Kings (34-25) – 9:00 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago (TV) and 670 The Score (Radio) Projected Starters Chicago Bulls Coby White...

Is Coby White’s Massive Workload Starting to Catch Up to Him?

Coby White doesn't deserve a cookie – he deserves the whole bakery. The 24-year-old guard has taken a massive leap forward this season, showing noticeable improvement in nearly every aspect of his game. While he isn't currently the favorite to take...

Bulls Weekly Preview: Kings, Jazz, Warriors, and Clippers – March 4-10

Buckle up folks, this week could be a rough one! For starters, the first three matchups on the Bulls schedule this week tip off at 9:00 pm, 8:00 pm, and 9:00 pm again. Not ideal! The game with the Clippers...

Pacers Snag Quenton Jackson From Windy City Bulls with Two-Way Contract

The Indiana Pacers have stolen one of the Windy City Bulls' best players. Guard Quenton Jackson will depart the Chicago Bulls' G-League affiliate for a two-way deal with their Central Division foe, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. Jackson had been...

Changes to the Kings’ Offense, 3-Point Disparity Problems, Fake LaVine Trade, and Other Bulls Bullets

The Chicago Bulls tip off a four-game Western Conference road trip tonight in Sacramento. I hope you're ready for some more late-night hoops! https://twitter.com/chicagobulls/status/1764675060382437572?s=20 After getting demolished by the Milwaukee Bucks on their home floor, the Bulls fly to California...

Standings Check, Tough West Coast Trip, Coby White Stats, and Other Bulls Bullets

A beautiful day … and the Chicago Bulls can’t ruin it! Thanks to back-to-back losses from the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls have held onto their 2.0 game lead for the No. 9 spot. Basketball-Reference's Playoff Probabilities report still puts...

Emotions Boil Over, Don’t Disrespect DeRozan, Mic’d Up Ayo, and Other Bulls Bullets

With a late Friday night tip-off, the Chicago Bulls were in their feels. As Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like a bulldozer on a racetrack, role players like Patrick Beverley and Bobby Portis did what they do best. Both players spent every...

Latest News

Celtics vs. Cavaliers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Boston Celtics (48-12) will try to build on an 11-game win streak when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (39-21) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as 7.5-point favorites. The contest airs at 7:30 PM ET on...

Knicks vs. Hawks Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Atlanta Hawks (26-34) are just 2.5-point underdogs as they attempt to break a three-game road slide when they visit the New York Knicks (36-25) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at Madison Square Garden. The contest airs at 7:30 PM...

76ers vs. Nets Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Atlantic Division opponents square off when the Philadelphia 76ers (35-25) visit the Brooklyn Nets (24-37) at Barclays Center, starting at 7:30 PM ET on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. The Nets are 2.5-point underdogs in the game, the third matchup between...

Mavericks vs. Pacers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Dallas Mavericks (34-27) hit the court against the Indiana Pacers (34-28) as 4.5-point favorites on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 8:30 PM ET on BSSW. The over/under in the matchup is 246.Mavericks vs. Pacers OddsMavericks odds to win: -192Pacers...

Knicks vs. Hawks Predictions, Best Bets and Odds – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Atlanta Hawks (26-34) are only 2.5-point underdogs as they try to end a three-game road losing streak when they visit the New York Knicks (36-25) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at Madison Square Garden. The game airs at 7:30...

Pelicans vs. Raptors Predictions, Best Bets and Odds – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The New Orleans Pelicans (36-25) are favored by 8.5 points against the Toronto Raptors (23-38) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 7:30 PM ET. The matchup airs on SN. The matchup's over/under is set at 228.5.Before you make an informed...

How to Watch Stetson Hatters vs. Queens Royals: Live Stream or on TV

ASUN play features the Stetson Hatters (19-12, 11-5 ASUN) at home against the Queens Royals (14-18, 7-9 ASUN) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 7:00 PM ET.In its previous game, Stetson lost to North Florida on Friday, 78-59. Its leading...

How to Watch Texas A&M-Commerce Lions vs. Northwestern State Demons: Live Stream or on TV

The Texas A&M-Commerce Lions (11-19, 5-12 Southland) host the Northwestern State Demons (9-21, 7-10 Southland) in Southland action at The Field House, beginning at 8:30 PM ET on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.Texas A&M-Commerce lost its most recent game to Lamar,...

New Orleans vs. McNeese: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

The McNeese Cowboys (27-3, 16-1 Southland) will try to continue an eight-game winning streak when they visit the New Orleans Privateers (9-21, 4-13 Southland) on March 6, 2024 at Lakefront Arena. The contest airs on ESPN+.New Orleans lost its previous...

How to Watch Alabama A&M Bulldogs vs. Grambling Tigers: Live Stream or on TV

The Grambling Tigers (16-13, 13-3 SWAC) will try to build on a five-game win streak when they visit the Alabama A&M Bulldogs (9-20, 8-8 SWAC) on March 7, 2024 at Alabama A&M Event Center. The game airs on Bull.On Saturday,...

more bulls news