Caitlin Clark, A Perfectly Boring Win, Should a Successful March Change Anything? And Other Bulls Bullets
If you didn’t spend your Friday night watching Caitlin Clark make history, you screwed up.
The Iowa-South Carolina semifinal matchup was easily the most enjoyable basketball game of 2023. As players dove on the ground for loose balls and showboated big shots, the crowd was as boisterous as it could be. And, to no surprise, it was also Clark who completely stole the show, becoming the first player in women’s NCAA Tournament history to drop back-to-back 40-point games.
The Iowa Hawkeye ended the night with an absurd 41 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds against the 36-0 title favorites. It didn’t matter how many times South Carolina tried to throw two bodies at her and force the ball out of her hands, she dominated in an individual effort that anyone who watched will not soon forget.
I don’t know when Clark will officially decide to take her talents to the next level, but I’m prepared to use one of my genie wishes on having her become the next member of the Chicago Bulls!
(If that doesn’t work, I’ll happily settle on her going to the Sky!)
- A big shoutout to the Bulls for finishing their battle with the Hornets right before Clark tipped off! I got to be honest, I don’t have much to say about last night’s game. But isn’t that actually how it should be? Chicago might as well have been playing the Greensboro Swarm. LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre, and Dennis Smith Jr. were all ruled out ahead of tip-off, while PJ Washington managed to play just 12 minutes due to a foot injury.
- It was 100 percent a game the Bulls should have won by 30 points, so I’m not going to sit here and toot their horn for accomplishing just that. Am I relieved that they have finally learned to take care of business after months of dropping games to teams like the Magic, Spurs, and Rockets? Sure. But the fact I even feel that way is pretty darn embarrassing when we consider the talent on this roster.
- The victory over Charlotte capped off a 9-6 month of March for Chicago. During those 15 games, they held the NBA’s 10th-ranked offense and 11th-ranked defense, which equated to the 12th-best net rating. While it was by no means perfect basketball, it was a staggering two-way improvement that helped thrust the team back into the Play-In Tournament picture. Now, they hold a 3.0 game lead on the Wizards for the 10 seed and are just 1.0 game behind both the Hawks and Raptors for the 8 and 9 seeds, respectively, with five games left to go.
- Should this solid month really change anything, though? On a macro level, I’d say no. The Bulls’ roster is still poorly built. They desperately need upgrades in the rim protection and 3-point shooting department, and they need to get their hands on a true facilitator. On top of that, this “Big 3” hasn’t shown enough to believe their worth further investment. If the success of your three best players relies heavily on having a true point guard or perfect supporting cast, those likely shouldn’t be your three best players. Does that mean the Bulls can’t continue with any of the three? No. But going forward much longer with this trio isn’t likely to lead to an outcome that is much better than a first-round exit. At least, not in today’s version of the East.
- On a micro level, I do think this late-season surge could impact things. The first thing that comes to mind is how the Bulls handle Zach LaVine. While I was never operating under the belief that the front office would look to trade him this summer, I could at least understand the rumors. However, I can no longer see a world where the Bulls consider that in the coming months. LaVine averaged 28.4 points and 4.7 assists on 53.0 percent shooting from the field and 43.6 percent shooting from downtown in March. He’s been driving to the cup better than anyone in the league since Feb. 1, and we’ve seen some legitimate growth in his ability to impact winning.
- Indeed, LaVine was arguably the catalyst for this Bulls’ turnaround. His decision-making across the board has vastly improved from the early portion of this season, as has his ability to set up his teammates (which has become easier thanks to his aggressive scoring mentality). The guy is also never going to be an above-average defender, but I commend him for showing more effort on that side of the ball. Do some concerns remain about his long-term health? Sure. But let’s not forget he has played 66 straight games and has now appeared in his most games since the 2015-16 season.
- I know that some might flip this around and say his recent stellar play is just a greater reason to cash in on his value this summer. And maybe I’ll feel differently about all of this when a reassess things in the coming weeks. However, LaVine is the kind of scorer you need in today’s NBA. If you move on from him, you’re looking for someone just like him almost right away. Again, I’m not denying that my feelings on this can change, but I’d rather see the Bulls try to reshuffle things and build a better supporting cast around LaVine’s talents.
- Another small thing we have to consider is what might happen to the Bulls’ free-agent role players. Has Coby White’s surge put him back in good graces with the front office? Has Patrick Beverley shown enough that the Bulls would want to re-sign him? Has Javonte Green’s missed time hurt his potential to stick with the organization? We’ll get more into the finances in the offseason, but the Bulls don’t have gobs of money laying around to re-sign everyone (and, to be clear, they shouldn’t re-sign everyone!). Tough decisions will have to be made, and I have to imagine this month will help make some of those decisions.
- I was glad to see Andre Drummond get back on the floor last night! The Bulls’ big man can be a big part of finishing this season strong.
- It’s officially official: Two former Bulls – Dwyane Wade and Pau Gasol – will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
- Poor Archie.
- Luis had a really cool conversation with analyst Field Yates!
- Something to keep an eye on …