Please Beat the Hornets, Struggling with Youth, An Underrated Vooch, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Please Beat the Hornets, Struggling with Youth, An Underrated Vooch, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I came into today convinced that the Chicago Bulls have lost multiple games to the Charlotte Hornets this season.

Fortunately, upon further review, they’re actually 2-1 against the NBA’s third-worst team! Yippie! I guess my thinking otherwise is just an example of how emotionally damaged this team has made me over the past six months.

  • As shown in the Bulls’ 111-96 loss in late January, you can’t sleep on the Hornets. And this feels especially true when we consider Charlotte has won three-straight games and four of their last five games. The Hornets took down Luka Doncic twice over this recent stretch and is fresh off a clutch 137-134 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road.
  • With LaMelo Ball sidelined for the remainder of the season, Gordon Hayward and Dennis Smith Jr. doubtful, and Terry Rozier dealing with a foot injury, the Bulls are in line to face quite the inexperienced starting lineup tonight. For example, the Hornets ran with a five-man group of Theo Maldeon, Bryce McGowens, Svi Mykhailiuk, PJ Washington, and Nick Richards against OKC. Washington went on to drop a career-high 43 points, while the team as a whole shot 55.3 percent against the Thunder’s 10th-ranked defense. Should we expect the same kind of production tonight? I wouldn’t. But that performance does serve as a reminder of what a group of motivated youngsters can do.

  • Whether it be against the Pacers, Spurs, Magic, or Rockets, we’ve seen the Bulls lose to ragtag lineups time and again this year. While some of that is due to simply playing down to their opponent (which is a bug they’ve seemingly exterminated in recent weeks), some of that is also due to struggling with physicality and containing the 3-point line.
  • Orlando forced the Bulls into 16 TOVs the last time they played. Indiana grabbed 13 OREBs to the Bulls’ 4 earlier this month. Houston nailed 17 shots from downtown in December. Charlotte shot 31 free throw attempts in their one victory over Chicago this year. If the Bulls want to avoid another disastrous outcome later today, they have to play as the aggressor from start to finish. After losing two straight, there should be no lack of motivation to do just that.
  • So what worked against the Hornets the last time these two met? Sharing the basketball! The Bulls dished 24 assists on Feb. 2 and ended with six players in double figures. This included a 22-point showing from Ayo Dosunmu and a 20-point showing from Coby White. With how White, in particular, has played in recent weeks, it doesn’t feel crazy to think he can torch this depleted Hornets’ bench once again.
  • I’d also like to remind the Bulls that the Hornets, technically, have the single-worst offense in the NBA. Sure, I know they’ve averaged 121 points over the last three contests. But a team that has played the 7th-best defense since the All-Star break has to find a way to control this normally inefficient team. This will have to start with hustling back in transition. If there is one thing the Hornets’ offense has done consistently well, it’s attacking teams on the break. They average the 6th-most fastbreak points per game.
  • I wrote a few words about Nikola Vucevic’s underrated season:

  • I know some have already thrown a huge pile of “who cares” at the stats shared in that post, but I do think it’s noteworthy information. We can’t strictly evaluate the season from a team-wide perspective. We should still look at how each player is individually performing and how that could impact their value going forward. What Vucevic has done this season is likely to pop up on several front office’s radars this summer.

  • DeMar DeRozan doing DeMar DeRozan things:

  • NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson put together a fresh mailbag. He reiterated that change is expected this offseason. How drastic that change will be, however, remains up for debate.

  • Reminder: Our BN event in Wrigleyville is now less than a week away. You can enter for a chance to win tickets and a $100 Fanatics gift card here (completely free to enter, by the way). Hope to see some folks there!
  • There will only ever be one true “Last Dance.”

  • ‘Twas quite the run.

  • Head-butting someone when you’re down 44 points? Not a great idea. Head-butting someone when you’re down 44 points and a benchwarmer? An even worse idea.

  • *scratches sneaking onto the field off proposal ideas*

  • BOOOOOO!!!

Author: Elias Schuster

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