Appreciating the Zach-DeMar Duo, Another Really Bad Projection, Russ Hits the Bench, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Appreciating the Zach-DeMar Duo, Another Really Bad Projection, Russ Hits the Bench, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

In Thursday morning’s bullets, I mentioned that I sincerely believe the Chicago Bulls will be fine. And a big reason for that is because of exactly what the organization’s social media department shared yesterday:

Come save Chicago from the awful Bears, Zach and DeMar!

  • While it was understandable to doubt how well DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine would fit alongside each other, they instantly demonstrated that it could be a match made in heaven last season. Up until LaVine exited that Golden State Warriors game early on Jan. 14, these two shared a spot among the NBA’s top-10 scorers. DeRozan had been averaging 26.0 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting from the field, while LaVine has been averaging 25.6 points a night with a 49.1 percent clip. By those standards, they were arguably the best-scoring duo in the league. No other pair of teammates sat inside the league’s top 10.
  • I also think it’s pretty telling that things basically remained this way even with LaVine playing through a pretty significant knee injury. By the end of the year, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were the only other duo to join LaVine and DeRozan inside the league’s top-17 scorers. And I’m not sure people are putting enough stock into that fact.
  • To be clear, I completely understand many of the concerns that exist around this team, but I also think having two of the most elite bucket-getters in the NBA sets a team’s floor decently high. I especially think this when we also factor in that LaVine and DeRozan were among the best clutch scorers in the NBA (DeRozan had the 2nd-most points in clutch situations and LaVine had the 12th-most). I say all of this to simply remind folks that Chicago has a scoring combo that can produce points as efficiently as any tandem in the league. That alone should keep them competitive in a number of contests.
  • I wanted to write all that before I shared some more absolutely bonkers projections from FiveThirtyEight. According to the site’s latest forecast, the Bulls only have a 19 percent chance of making the playoffs. They have Chicago finishing in 11th place behind both Charlotte and New York. Even more dumbfounding, they have the Bulls earning just one more win than the full-blown tank-mode Indiana Pacers.
  • As a reminder, these projections come a little over a month after FiveThirtyEight released their equally-crazy player profiles. Both LaVine and DeRozan are listed as nothing more than “average starters,” while Alex Caruso was named a “borderline All-Star.” You can read what I had to say about that here.
  • Just a completely random note: Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic come to the Bulls with a prior relationship. I think it’s easy to forget since both were picked up late in the year, but they each clocked big minutes for the Brooklyn Nets last season. All things considered, it’s nice to know they already have a level of familiarity with one another as they try to help stabilize the Bulls’ second unit.
  • If the Los Angeles Lakers want any chance at making this relationship work, it feels like Russell Westbrook has to embrace a role off the bench. With that said, I don’t want good things for the Lakers, so I hope Russ keeps being Russ!
  • Justin Field has no help.

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.