The Chicago Bulls paradox

NBA Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
NBA Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Despite being at the bottom of nearly every statistical offensive category the Chicago Bulls are still in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference

Folks, I have a problem.

I have no clue who these Chicago Bulls are. They are so bad but so good all at the same time. Chicago is currently 19-31, which puts them in the ninth place and just three games out of the last spot in the Eastern Conference. Again, a team that is 12 games below .500 is just a few games out of the playoffs.

A team that is 3-21 against playoff teams is three games outside of facing the Milwaukee Bucks, who have beaten the Bulls by an average of 14 points in all four matchups this season.

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I am not too sure how to feel.

You cannot ignore the individual talent on this team. Zach LaVine is playing at an all-star level and has stepped up as the leader of this young group. Thaddeus Young has taken on the role of chief veteran while also putting up solid numbers off the bench. The rest of the main pieces are up in the air.

If the injury bug bites every team, they have completely feasted on this Bulls team. Otto Porter, who is arguably their best shooter, has only played nine games and is hopeful to come back after the All-Star break. Big man Lauri Markkanen is out for the next six weeks with a pelvic fracture, as well as second-year big Wendell Carter Jr. also being out that same time with an ankle injury. I am not one to use injuries as an excuse, but these three injuries are not just a couple of bumps and bruises.

These are major injuries with extended absences that Chicago cannot afford to have right now. Despite all of this, they are still alive in the playoff race and have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games.

Conventional wisdom would render that being a .500 team would sort of put them statistically in the middle of the league? Not so fast.

Through these last 10 games, the Bulls rank in the bottom 10 in points, 3-point percentage, rebounds, and assists. Maybe it’s their defense keeping them afloat? Now we are on to something.

Chicago has the seventh-best defensive rating, while also ranking second in the league in steals within their last 10 games. While they are 20th in turnovers, they give up the 10th fewest points off said turnovers and are near the top in fewest fast break points allowed.

Let’s take the time to process this.

The Chicago Bulls are what they are at this point. Maybe the one-two punch of Porter and Markkanen can bolster their scoring. Maybe rookie Coby White can find some consistency and be more of a contributor. Maybe Thaddeus Young and Wendell Carter can be more reliable pick-and-pop guys.

If they want to make that push for the playoffs, they need this to happen fast. They are doing the right things by beating the bad teams. They are doing the wrong things by constantly losing to teams currently in the playoffs.

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If Chicago is not ready to be in the postseason, then they must act now or take what’s coming.