Keeping the Good Vibes Going, SGA's Breakout, Jae Crowder, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Keeping the Good Vibes Going, SGA’s Breakout, Jae Crowder, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

One week ago today, the Chicago Bulls lost to the Orlando Magic. Wendell Carter Jr. and Franz Wagner – two of the players acquired in the teams’ deal for big man Nikola Vucevic – combined for 41 points in what would be Chicago’s fourth-straight loss.

And, if that wasn’t bad enough, max player Zach LaVine shot just 1-14 from the field and waltzed into the locker room to publically disagree with his head coach, who chose to bench him down the stretch.

All of that was just seven days ago, meaning my bullets headline that read “Things Pretty Much Couldn’t be Worse for the Chicago Bulls Right Now (and Other Bulls Bullets) was just six days ago. Oh … how fast things can change in the NBA.

  • What’s the exact opposite of losing at home to the rebuilding Orlando Magic? Beating the top-2 teams in the East in back-to-back games. Just when the Bulls looked prime for a full-blown collapse, they did a complete 180 and pulled out two of their more impressive wins of the past two seasons. Their victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, in particular, felt like a real statement. They played with the kind of intensity and execution that is needed to compete with the top teams in the league. Not to mention, it may have been the first time where we really saw the benefits of continuity.
  • Now, as impressive as those two wins may have been, they’re not going to mean diddly-squat if the Bulls can’t find some level of consistency. Arguably no team in the league has now started the year with as many highs and lows as this group. Although, whether it be the win over Miami or Boston or Toronto or Milwaukee, there is enough evidence for us to believe they are truly capable of hanging with the big dogs. The question is just whether or not they have the mental fortitude to play to this standard every night.
  • A good way to prove they are capable of just that is by taking care of Oklahoma City tonight. While the Thunder have a respectable 7-11 record thanks, in large part, to the absolutely stellar play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (more on him in a second), this is still one of those teams the Bulls have to beat to be considered a truly rejuvenated team. They still hold just the 23rd net rating in the league and rely on a slew of inexperienced talent. Opponents have also averaged the 2nd-most points per game against this defense, and a big reason for that is due to them allowing the 4th-most points in the paint a night.
  • For as many points as OKC gives up, they tend to keep up on the opposite end of the floor. OKC plays with a top-3 PACE and ranks top-5 in points scored. They look to outrun and outshoot their opponents, and it’s led to several pretty entertaining performances against some of the best teams in the league (lost 136-132 to MKE in OT, lost 131-126 to DEN, won 117-111 against DAL). So, while they have lost more of these high-scoring battles than they have won, their ability to score the basketball cannot be taken lightly.
  • Back to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. There aren’t many players who can single-handedly keep a game close, but he is one of them. As good as Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu can be on the defensive end, they may not even be enough to slow down the soon-to-be All-Star right now. SGA is averaging an absurd 31.1 points, 6.3 assists, and 1.8 on 51.9 percent shooting from the field this season. He’s in the thick of a massive breakout campaign, and he’s the main reason these matchups with OKC haven’t been easy.
  • Speaking of great defense, Alex Caruso is still out here making Laker fans mad. You love to see it.
  • Patrick Williams also continues to look like a beast. This block on Giannis was absurd.
  • Bleacher Report pitched one trade idea for every NBA team, and can you guess what they had for the Bulls? Jae Crowder has been a popular name in fan circles. He fits pretty much exactly what Chicago needs as a 3-and-D veteran with loads of playoff experience. B/R had the Bulls sending out Coby White and Marko Simonovic to Phoenix in a potential deal, which is something that makes me scream “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, DO IT!.” Unfortunately, however, I highly doubt the Suns would entertain that offer. While it’s true that they could use another sparkplug scorer in the backcourt, do they really see White as the right investment? He hasn’t necessarily been the “winning player” that contending teams usually covet, and he’s also due a paycheck this summer. They can likely find a deal that makes a lot more sense as teams grow more desperate in the coming weeks/months.
  • Patrick Beverley received a three-game suspension for his dumb decision to blindside-hit Deandre Ayton. Look, I respect how hard Beverley can play at times, but this kind of stuff is so freakin’ unnecessary. Play tough, not dirty.
  • Just make the team better, please.

Author: Elias Schuster

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