A Tight Race, Can Pat or Ayo Step Up? And Other Bulls Bullets

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A Tight Race, Can Pat or Ayo Step Up? What Are You Doing Dragic!? And Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

The door has been left ajar.

The question now is whether or not the Chicago Bulls will burst through it like the Kool-Aid Man, waltz through it modestly, or slip on a banana peel before banging their head on the door frame and being crushed by a comedically large anvil.

I’m praying for anything but the latter.

  • While the Bulls currently sit 21-24 and 10th in the East, the basketball gods have made a second-half surge more than doable. Not only do they now sit 1.5 games ahead of the Wizards and 2.0 games ahead of the reeling Raptors, but the Pacers – who now sit just a half-game ahead of the Bulls – have lost seven straight. Chicago will also play that Indiana crew on Tuesday right after they play Atlanta on Monday (the team that currently resides 2.0 games ahead of them in the 8th seed). Overall, only 3.0 games separate Chicago (10th) from Miami (6th), which feels like a decent spot to be in knowing the Bulls will now play eight-straight games against opponents that sit 8th or lower in their respective conference.
  • What will truly make a mid-season turnaround convincing is if someone can step up as the Bulls’ clear No. 4. All things considered, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic have done their job in recent weeks. Can they be better? Sure. But they have shown an improved understanding of how to feed the hot hand and play off one another over this 10-6 stretch. What the Bulls now need is for one of their two youngsters to take that next step.
  • The Bulls must get to a place where they know what they’re going to get from either Ayo Dosunmu or Patrick Williams on a nightly basis. To their credit, each has shown they have the tools to be a high-impact role player on both ends of the floor. But the problem has been getting either to do it consistently.
  • Dosunmu, in particular, has the potential to fill a significant hole at point guard. Chicago needs someone who can help set the table for their top-3 scorers on one end and put real pressure on the perimeter and POA on the other end. Whether it be averaging 5.1 assists over the second half of last season or posting impressive defensive efforts against All-Star-talent like Trae Young, Jaylen Brown, and Kyrie Irving this season, we have all seen Dosunmu’s two-way potential. Finding a way to tap into that over the next couple of months could be key.
  • The three-point stroke is one big reason Dosunmu has yet to feel as effective as he was in Year 1. After shooting 37.6 percent from long range on 2.4 attempts, the 23-year-old has dropped to 32.8 percent on a similar 2.7 attempts. Considering the majority of his 3-point shots are solid catch-and-shoot looks, there is no question this number has to be higher.
  • As for Patrick Williams, he might be the most likely of the two to rise to the occasion He’s been far more aggressive on the offensive end in recent weeks, which has led to him scoring 10+ points in seven of the team’s last nine games. This has included a season-high 22-point effort in the victory over Brooklyn and an 18-point effort against Philly. Unlike Dosunmu, he continues to sink the 3-ball at a high rate (42.1 percent on 3.5 attempts per game) and has done a pretty decent job at getting to the free throw line.
  • There is really no reason that Williams shouldn’t be adding 10+ points and 6+ rebounds to the box score every night. With the combination of his imposing frame and satisfactory jumper, there is a lot of room for him to make his presence felt as the defense focuses on the star players. I want to believe the past few weeks are a sign of him finally realizing that, but only time will tell.
  • Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley recently shared the best and worst contracts on every NBA team. Unsurprisingly, Lonzo Ball got the nod for the Bulls’ worst deal, as he’s only played 35 games since joining the franchise two offseasons ago. I’ll say this: If a three-year, $61.4 million contract is the biggest blemish on the cap sheet, I can live with it. If anything, I think this serves as a good reminder that the Bulls aren’t in as bad of a bind as some might think. Don’t get me wrong, the lack of draft capital is concerning, but their current contracts aren’t necessarily reprehensible or untradable.
  • I can’t believe it’s been 13 years since Derrick Rose put Goran Dragic on a legendary poster.

  • HBD to one of the great individual performances in NBA history!

  • JFL can not be stopped! Maybe I got to get to a Windy City Bulls game soon!

  • Speaking of crazy posters …

  • It’s been a long time coming for Jonathan Isaac. He was once viewed as one of the better young two-way forwards in the league, so I’m very curious to see how he looks after a multi-year hiatus.

  • STAY HOME, CANDACE!

  • Sure, why not.

  • ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOOOOOTBALLLLLL!!!

  • You tell me …


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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.