A Chance to Get to .500, Grizzlies Struggles, Drummond Goes Off, and Other Bulls Bullets

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A Chance to Get to .500, Struggles for Memphis, Drummond Goes Off, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

The Kyrie Irving deal is officially done.

Despite a few hours there where it appeared a third wildcard team could enter the mix, The Athletic’s Shams Charania did finally report that the Irving-to-Dallas transaction was complete. The only change appeared to be that out-of-rotation bench piece Markieff Morris will join Irving in the trade.

With that deal now through the wire, the fear about Irving and the Nets holding up the market is officially gone. I expect plenty of phones to be ringing all across the NBA over the next two days, and I sure hope some of those calls are being answered by Arturas Karnisovas.

  • As the great Michael Scott once said: Snip snap, snip snap, snip snap! The Chicago Bulls continue to toy with our emotions at an all-time level. With a win over the 14-win San Antonio Spurs last night, they now have their fourth three-game winning streak of the season and are back to being one game under .500. That’s right, a win over the Memphis Grizzlies later today would see the Bulls back at league average for the first time since early November. Considering they have yet to win four straight this entire season and it’s the backend of a back-to-back, though, I would proceed with caution.

  • If there is anything the Bulls have working in their favor, it’s that the Memphis Grizzlies have hit a mid-season bump. The team has shockingly lost eight of nine games, including three straight to Portland, Cleveland, and Toronto. A big reason for their struggles has been the absence of starting center Steven Adams. Averaging 8.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game, removing him from the lineup has significantly hurt their ability to crash the glass. We’ve also seen their offense rank just 29th over the past nine games, and there is no doubt that not having Adams’ NBA-leading 5.7 screen assists per game has played a major role in that. Remember: This is a Grizzlies team that thrives on getting downhill and averages the single-most points in the paint per game.
  • All things considered, Adams’ absence should have both Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond salivating. Both players completely tore apart the Spurs on Monday night, combining for 43 points and 27 rebounds. While the presence of DPOY candidate Jaren Jackson Jr. will undoubtedly help Memphis control some of the paint, there will still be more room to work than normal underneath the rim.
  • I’m especially curious to see what version we’ll get of Drummond tonight. I can’t praise him enough for taking full advantage of his recent boost in minutes. He’s averaged 14.3 points and 10.3 rebounds (3.0 OREBs) on a ridiculous 81.8 percent field goal percentage over the team’s last three games. Last night was a particularly great display of the different looks he can offer this second unit. The sheer energy he provides as a rim runner and roll man can be a lot to handle, especially when the opposing team lacks a similarly traditional backup big man.

  • Having said all of that, I’m still not going to be surprised if (1) Drummond’s minutes are limited tonight and (2) the Bulls simply use this recent play as trade deadline leverage. As much as it feels like Drummond could continue to be an important part of the Bulls’ second half, Billy Donovan has shown he prefers to use Derrick Jones Jr. in small-ball lineups. And, to be clear, I can’t necessarily blame him. Likewise, if Drummond can be used to acquire more shooting, it might be something they have to consider. Remember Drummond is only on a player option this offseason, so he could always choose to walk.

  • This Zach LaVine dunk was bonkers:

  • I mean, seriously, look at this angle!

  • Joakim Noah is about to draft a winner.

  • The Phoenix Suns officially have new ownership.


  • Build the best O-line, please!

Author: Elias Schuster

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