Zach LaVine’s Prime, DeMar the Distributor, NBA News Dump, and Other Bulls Bullets
What better way to start a Friday than with a shameless plug?
If you happen to enjoy any of the stuff I do here at BN Bulls, you might also enjoy my podcast that touches on all things NBA. I got it back up and running this week after a brief hiatus, and you can subscribe on Apple (here) or Spotify (here). If it doesn’t make your ears bleed, dropping a positive rating always helps!
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- The Chicago Bulls got me far too excited on Wednesday night. While I’m not sure we can call it their best win of the season, it’s surely in the conversation. They played like a team that undoubtedly looked like it belonged in the playoff mix. The defense was flying around and forcing turnovers. Zach LaVine was scoring at will. Nikola Vucevic returned to All-Star form. Role players were hitting big shots. Everything was clicking … and there is no better time for everything to click than when the playoffs are looming.
- Having said that, excitement doesn’t translate to trust. I would be lying if I said I expect the Bulls to wipe the floor with the 15-win Houston Rockets tomorrow night. If anything, nothing would be more Bulls than beating the best team in the West one night and losing to the worst team in the West the next. After all, Houston already embarrassed them once this season. If they happen to actually take care of business, then maybe I’ll increase my faith in this team by 5 percent (add that on top of my 4 percent from yesterday’s bullets … and that’s a whole 9 percent!).
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ZACHARY LAVINE!
- The Chicago Bulls max player is officially 28 years old. So, in other words, he’s now fully entered what many believe to be a player’s “prime years” in the NBA. How high he’ll climb during those years remains a big question, but he’s still giving us a lot to be excited about with his recent play. We spoke a little bit more about that in the post below:
- I know that many Bulls fans have a pretty rocky relationship with LaVine. And I totally understand why. Whenever he’s playing his best basketball, the team just can’t seem to string together wins. It’s hard not to correlate the two and walk away with the idea that he struggles to impact winning. But I really do think that LaVine can carry a big workload on a successful team. While he may not be a true No. 1 player (there are so few in the NBA when we think about it), he’s at least a multi-time All-Star-level talent who scores at will in a league currently all about scoring. To put it differently, he can at least be a valuable piece of the puzzle. Will that opportunity ever fully materialize in Chicago? I hope so. But this roster is so poorly constructed that it’s hard to tell whether there is any light at the end of the tunnel.
- The Suite Life of Zach and Coby.
- I respect DeMar DeRozan’s approach in recent weeks. With the team struggling to see the same success with him as their leading scorer, the All-Star has seemingly taken his foot off the gas to focus more on the little things. Over his last 15 games, DeRozan has taken on the role of the lead facilitator, averaging nearly 6.0 assists per game. He’s dished at least 7 assists five times during this stretch, including in this week’s victory over the Denver Nuggets.
- The fact of the matter is that DeRozan is always going to draw tons of attention in the paint. The fear of his mid-range shot is well-established and it will lead to opportunities for him to find open teammates. DeRozan assisted Vucevic, in particular on five of his nine-made baskets against Denver. One came off the pick-and-pop for 3, one came on a nice kick-out after drawing the help, and a couple of others came right underneath the basket as defenders sagged off Vucevic. DeRozan still needs to play his game and attack those scoring opportunities, but his ability to create is something the Bulls could look to use even more.
- Now, to be sure, I do wonder if this is entirely intentional by DeRozan. We did see his scoring efficiency drop quite a bit while he was dealing with a nagging hip injury. He seemed to come back after the All-Star break fully healthy, but we all know guys are playing through at least some pain at this point in the season. Considering he is still shooting above 50 percent from the field, though, I’m assuming this is at least somewhat of a conscious decision to try to help the team. And while I know the win-loss results haven’t been the best, I at least respect the decision to try something new.
- In case you missed it, let’s get you caught up on some of the bigger news from the past 24 hours. First things first, Fred VanVleet got fined $30,000 for cursing out the refs.
- Kevin Durant’s pre-game slip might cost him the final few weeks of the regular season.
- Dillon Brooks and Draymond Green are still fighting … and I couldn’t care less.
- NBA great Shawn Kemp recently fell into hot water after being arrested for an alleged drive-by shooting. According to his attorney, however, the situation has been blown out of proportion and Kemp only fired shots in self-defense while in a parking lot. More on that here.
- Things you like to hear …
Patrick Beverley Seemingly Calls Out Lakers in Social Media Post (UPDATE: Bev Says It’s a Coincidence)