If there’s one thing I hate about the NBA it’s tanking. I hate losing in the first place, and losing on purpose just flat out pisses me off.
As a Bulls fan going into this season I knew it was going to be rough. No Jimmy Buckets, No Taj Gibson, and to make it that much worst, two weeks before the season starts Bobby Portis lays a beating on Nikola Mirotic’s bearded face.
I heard a rumor this whole “incident” was over Niko spoiling the ending of the show, Ballers. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the show, and the Rock is fantastic, and I’d be pretty pissed if someone spoiled the ending too, but to punch him in the face? C’mon now.
This season was going to be a doozy, we all knew that. But something is changing with this team and I kind of like it. They’re meshing together nicely as a team. Questions were out there on how Lavine would be after coming off an ACL injury, if Kris Dunn could prove to be an above average point guard in the league and if Lauri Markkanen was the next Dirk Nowitzki.
For Lavine, so far so good. He appears to still have the same bounce as before, and has already put up a highlight reel of dunks in the 13 games he’s been back. He’s averaging 17.3 ppg, and 4.7 rpg which are both career highs.
Dunn was having a much needed upside year, until he broke his face when he hit the deck after a dunk. He is averaging 13.7 ppg, 6.4 apg, and 4.6 rpg. All three are career highs for him and will look for him to get better after he is recovered from injury.
The biggest speculation was about Markkanen. What would he amount to? His best player comp is quite obviously Dirk Nowitzki. Both seven footers who can stretch the floor and shoot from just about anywhere. In his first year, Markkanen is averaging 15.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 1.3 apg. He also broke the record for fastest player to hit 100 three-pointers in NBA history. Faster than a-n-y-b-o-d-y. Great numbers for a rookie.
I went back and looked at Dirk’s numbers to see how the Finland native stacked up against the German future Hall of Famer. In Dirk’s first year, he averaged 8.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 1.0 apg. Dirk shot .406% from the field, and .206% from three. Markkanen? .429% from the field and .354% from three. Something to think about as the Bulls move forward.
Markkanen is the future of that team. Now it’s up to… take a deep breath… Gar Forman and John Paxson… exhale… to put together a competent team for Fred Hoiberg to do something with.
I’ll be honest when they decided to let Jimmy go instead of building around him I thought there was no chance that Gar and Pax had any idea what they were doing. Kris Dunn, a good college point guard but underperformed his first year. Zach Lavine, a dunk contest champion who’s coming off an ACL tear. These two for a guy who was coming off a year averaging 23.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 5.5 apg. Career high numbers for Jimbo.
Now that I think about it, it was a good thing. Sure, Jimmy would’ve been the star in Chicago, but he would’ve prevented the inevitable rebuild. I believe this front office and Fred Hoiberg have a vision. They are bringing in pieces that fit Hoiberg’s style and I like that. I think Hoiberg will be a good NBA coach when he has the talent. But for now, we need more.
One way they will do that is through this years draft. I used to think I wanted Trae Young, because I thought the Bulls needed a pure scorer. But boy did I change my mind. College’s have figured him out and Oklahoma has lost 6 of 8. If college players and coaches can do it, NBA players most certainly can.
I don’t want the Bulls to tank. I’m stating that right now. As I said earlier I hate that concept. Especially when, even if you finish dead last in the league, there’s still not a one-hundred percent chance you secure that number one pick. They will lose, because they will lose. Not because they’re not trying to. They just don’t have it and that’s totally fine.
The Bulls need to build character. They are very young and I think they are just figuring out how good they can become. They have some good pieces right now but are nowhere near where they need to be for the future. When a young team that knows their not supposed to win comes out on top, that builds character. It takes grit and teaches plenty of valuable lessons.
The game is getting bigger and smaller all at the same time. Big men are now stretching the floor and becoming shooters and better ball handlers. Point guards are becoming even better athletes with unbelievable skills. Every player on the floor, will soon have to be able to play at least three different positions on the court. I’m not saying they will, but they’ll need to be able to.
For the Bulls in the draft, I want them to take the best available. Whether that’s a guard, or forward they just need the best of the best available. A lot of this will depend on how much they continue to improve over the season.
They need to build around Markkanen because he’s the next face of this team. Bring in a guard who will mesh well with him, the same way Steve Nash did with Dirk in Dallas.
The foundation is there, now all we have to do, is trust the process.