The Only Thing the Bulls Do Seem to Agree On Is That They're Not on the Same Page

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The Only Thing the Bulls Do Seem to Agree On Is That They’re Not on the Same Page

Chicago Bulls

Goran Dragic put it best: “We’re not playing for each other.”

After the Chicago Bulls allowed the Minnesota Timberwolves to drop a franchise-record 150 points in regulation, the Bulls’ veteran didn’t mince words.

“Trust. I think that’s the big thing,” Dragic said. “We have to trust each other, defensively, that we’re going to be in the right position, that the rotation is going to be there. And offense the same thing – spacing, setting good screens, when you get in make the right pass and play.”

As the oldest player on the roster with 60 games of playoff experience and an NBA Finals trip just a few years back, Dragic would know. He’s seen what it takes to compete at the highest level, and he knows this roster is missing one of the essential components to success.

If the Bulls don’t have trust, they have nothing. The whole point of “continuity” is to build a group where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Elite chemistry is what this front office hoped to achieve when pairing this existing core. The synergy between three gifted scorers and its supporting cast would give the Bulls a leg up on the ever-changing competition in the Eastern Conference.

What time has shown, however, is that the Bulls’ were leaning into a false ideal. While there is no denying that some level of continuity can be valuable in today’s NBA, that path only works with the right mix of talent. Not only has the product on the court shown us that this isn’t the right combination (*specifically points toward their league-worst 3-11 record in the clutch*), but the mere fact that we’re talking about trust in Year 2 of this experiment is telling.

Funny enough, the only thing the Bulls do seem to be on the same page about is that they’re not on the same page at all. Zach LaVine joined Dragic in suggesting that this group isn’t working as one, even questioning everyone’s effort:

“You can name whatever you want to, we’re just not getting it done as a unit,” Zach LaVine told The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry after the game. “Until we band together and start helping each other, you’re not going to see a different result. You can’t ask your team for effort each and every night. I think that’s the first thing you have to bring.”

The Bulls’ max player went on to call the team’s recent play “embarrassing,” but he remains just as much of the problem as anyone. LaVine is still averaging his fewest points since the 2017-18 season and shooting his worst from the field since that same season. It’s also been difficult not to question some of his decision-making and late-game shot selection. Is that tied to his own lack of belief in his teammates?

DeMar DeRozan couldn’t help but point out this group’s disconnect on the court, as well. And he also used that special “E” word to describe the team’s latest stinker:

“This should be the ultimate lesson learned of what it’s like when you let something slip. Not being connected, not being one, not understanding what needs to be done collectively to help out each other defensively. Obviously, we scored enough points to win the game. But giving up 150 points is beyond embarrassing. We got to feel that. We got to feel low right now. We got to feel frustrated right now and try to understand why,” DeRozan said.

On one hand, it’s at least somewhat admirable that this team doesn’t shy away from stating the obvious. None of them are blind to the fact that things aren’t working out and that trust is seemingly a major issue. On the other hand (and I’ve typed this more times than I can count), actions speak louder than words.

The Bulls have said pretty much all the right things when given the chance. They condemn their lackluster play and emphasize that it will not be easy to get back on track. But where the heck is the sense of urgency?

The fact that they haven’t even tried to back up these words makes me think that they simply don’t believe they can. They don’t have enough faith in one another to reignite the engine. If that is, indeed, the case, it only underscores how badly this front office needs to make a change.

Author: Elias Schuster

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