If there is one thing we understand at Second City Sports, it’s how difficult it is to put your finger on which side of this Chicago Bulls team you’re on. Hell, we yelled a ton about it in our latest episode of SpoCo Radio with two of us deciding we’d be “ok” with a playoff berth and the other vehemently against it.
Chalk that up to something I never thought I’d argue in favor of. Not this year. Not in a lot of years.
Welcome to See Red Nation. Where the lovable “Build the Equity” tankers and the grand optimists with their day dreams of Zach LaVine watching gracefully as a seventh banner is raised into the rafters of the UC are all welcome with open arms.
I WAS on team #BuildtheEquity. I wanted to tank and then draft the Bulls version of Joel Embiid. Karl Anthony Towns. Ben Simmons. Anthony Davis.
But then something weird happened… Bobby Portis punched Niko square in the face forcing a skinny kid that nobody really watched at Arizona with a ceiling of Channing Frye (according to Jalen Rose) to gobble up his minutes.
And that little bit of batshit insanity turned out to be the best damn thing to happen to the Bulls and their rebuild:
Lauri Markkanen made 100 3-pointers faster than the best shooters in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/ZjQlyZslOG
— ESPN (@espn) January 16, 2018
Steve Kerr on Lauri Markkanen: “We think he’s going to be an All-Star.”
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 17, 2018
Maybe… just maybe we already have our version of Embiid in Lauri Legend.
Maybe we already have that second banana in Zach LaVine.
Maybe we already have our Markelle Ful…er…Robert Covington/Dario Saric in Kris Dunn.
Whatever you thought about the Jimmy Butler trade at the time, you KNOW that at the worst, it’s a win/win now. The Bulls, who most believed got swindled by their former coach, now have two formidable starters in Markkanen and LaVine and a defensive point guard with a developing mid-range game and outstanding work ethic that will AT LEAST captain the future Bench Mob.
Maybe I’m losing it. Maybe I’ve been reading too many of See Red Fred’s tweet. But aren’t the Bulls already AHEAD of “The Process”?
For those that don’t remember, the Sixers best asset when “The Process” started was Jrue Holiday. Do you remember what they got for him?
Nerlens Noel (the 6th pick in the 2013 draft) and a pick that turned into Dario Saric.
The Bulls had Jimmy Butler and got a haul deserving of him (Don’t @ me with your “BUT THE 16th PICK” arguments. Have any of those dudes that went around that pick had a single moment this year? Didn’t think so.).
Noel, Michael Carter Williams (Sam Hinkie’s other draft pick in 2013), Thaddeus Young and the rest of the trash on the Sixers 2013-14 roster were infinitely worse than the parallel universe Bulls would have been with a hobbled LaVine, a 20-minute a night Markkanen, learning how to play Dunn, RoLo, green light Justin Holiday, healthy Niko, not-so-crazy Bobby Portis and Jerian Grant.
It’s just a fact.
This team, even in the worst-case scenario, was never going to be as bad as we all thought. Is that partly on GarPax? If you want it to be. But don’t forget, you HATED that trade for Butler and you know you thought it would lead the Bulls to the top of the draft.
Can you really be mad now that it paid off? Hell no.
Look, could the Bulls use another can’t miss, controllable asset from the top end of this draft? Absolutely. Should GarPax start dealing away guys like Mirotic, RoLo, Holiday and Grant (PLEASE!) in hopes of losing more games in the second half of the season?
Of course they should.
But that STILL might not be enough. Going into Wednesday night’s game against the Warriors, 14 of the Bulls 38 remaining contests are against teams with 17-wins or less (Nets three times, Hawks twice, Magic twice, Memphis twice, Charlotte twice, Sacramento once, Dallas once, Lakers once). With or without the likes of RoLo and Niko, the Bulls are probably going to be favored in the majority of those games. The core and the offense that Fred Hoiberg is fitting them into is just too good right now not to be.
And that’s before taking into consideration any trade-to-tank moves that those teams make (besides the Nets and Lakers seeing that they have nothing to lose for).
Look, I wanted Trae Young or DeAndre Ayton or Marvin Bagley just as much as the next guy. But in all reality, that ship has sailed. The Hawks, Magic and Kings are in a race for those three and each of them have trades to make.
Can the Bulls get back in the Top-6? Sure. But the goal of the season wasn’t to get a guy like Jaren Jackson who has just as many question marks as his teammate Miles Bridges has.
So if “The Big 3” are out of reach, can’t we enjoy the moment in front of us right now and be just a little happy that the Bulls are finally “young and athletic” and it’s working? Can’t we clap and praise the growth that’s taking place right in front of ours eyes; even if it means that they’re helping the Bulls win a few more games than originally planned?
Am I wrong for riding this fence (something my co-hosts rip me for all too often)?
At the end of the day, being a Bulls fan has been a slog recently (don’t get me started on the Three Alphas experiment gone wrong). But it’s not right now. We can all finally let our hair down a little and breath in the fresh air.
And you know what?
It’s nice 😉
— Jerry Scherwin (@JerryScherwin) January 14, 2018