Bulls Return Tonight, NBA's Worst Offense, Relying More on Vooch, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Bulls Return Tonight, NBA’s Worst Offense, Relying More on Vooch, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

The road to the playoffs (or continued pain and disappointment) begins today!

  • The Chicago Bulls will tip off the first of their remaining 23 games tonight at the United Center. Their opponent will be the same Brooklyn Nets team that handed them an embarrassing 11-point loss just one day after completely blowing up their roster. Whether it be Spencer Dinwiddie, Seth Curry, Nic Claxton, Dorian Finney-Smith, or Mikal Bridges, there is more than enough talent on this roster to keep opponents honest, especially defensively.
  • Easily the biggest problem for Chicago in their last meeting was the 3-point discrepancy (*sarcastic gasp*). The Nets won the battle behind the arc a whopping 51-15. Joe Harris and Yutu Watanabe presented the biggest issues off the bench, as the two combined for a 10-14 performance from downtown. Defending on a string and closing out strong will be crucial to snapping this six-game losing streak tonight. Brooklyn found themselves with far too many easy catch-and-shoot looks, and they will do it again if the Bulls’ defense can’t apply more pressure. Let’s hope Patrick Beverley can make his presence felt right away!

  • Having said that, we all know the defense hasn’t been the primary problem for the Bulls in recent weeks. During this disastrous six-game losing streak, Chicago holds the 4th-best defensive rating but ranks dead-last in offense … by a lot. They have also turned the ball over at the 5th-highest rate in the NBA. While Beverley can help this team keep the ball moving and hit some open 3s, he isn’t going to be some kind of saving grace on offense. Turning this around is going to be entirely up to the “Big 3.” There is absolutely no excuse for a team with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic to ever sit bottom 10 in points per game.
  • One way the Bulls might be able to initiate better offense is to rely even more on Vucevic. No, I’m not saying he needs additional post-up attempts, but I do think he needs to be a more consistent facilitator for this team. Over this losing streak, Vucevic has averaged 3.0 assists per game, and this included two performances where he recorded just one dime. In the 10 games prior, when Chicago went 7-3, Vucevic averaged 4.6 assists a night. He also recorded 5+ assists in five of those games. Coincidence? I think not.

  • To be clear, I’m not saying this is going to solve every problem for the Bulls (it won’t). I also understand that not every game will present a great opportunity for Vucevic to act as one of the primary distributors. But I still think this has to be something Chicago prioritizes more if they want any chance at making the playoffs. Vucevic is one of the best quick-decision-makers on the team and has done a great job creating off short rolls and kick outs. Even if he isn’t the one directly assisting the basket, he can consistently initiate action. With still no true point guard on the roster, the Bulls have to find a way to tap into this skillset even more.
  • It also wouldn’t hurt if DeMar DeRozan could look a little more like … ya know … DeMar DeRozan. The veteran admitted that he’s been struggling with an injury since January. He sat out the previous two games before returning for the All-Star Game this past weekend, so one can only hope the Bulls get a fully healthy version of him back on the floor tonight. More injury updates here.
  • We should be able to tell pretty quickly how DeRozan is feeling. He looked out of his element in his past four games, failing to score 20+ in each contest. DeRozan has also shot just 45.0 percent over this stretch with 3.0 turnovers a game. Known for his efficiency and ability to take care of the basketball … those were some startling outings to watch.
  • Beverley will suit up for his hometown team for the first time ever tonight. I expect a VERY animated performance.

  • Javonte Green showed up to support the Windy City Bulls this week. Speaking of which, head coach Billy Donovan did share an update on his injury status here.

  • This is incredible stuff from James Harden. Get well soon, John.

  • A chance to finesse Ryan Pace? Sounds good to me!

  • I wish the Bulls had this many rumors …

Author: Elias Schuster

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