Monday night was a great night for the Chicago Bulls despite what the scoreboard said. The Bulls lost their fourth game in a row to the Brooklyn Nets 104-87. This was big for many reasons–the obvious being losing more games is better in terms of getting a higher draft pick.
As of Monday, the Bulls are tied with the Nets in the win column. They are also only 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns. There are more losses coming and the fear of making a run at the playoffs is long gone. This team will continue to lose games, which is good news for managment…not so much the players.
Sure, losing to a team like the Nets doesn’t feel great, but there were several positives to take away from the contest at the Barclays Center.
1. Lauri Markkanen Getting Back on Track
For a while there, Markkanen was going through a slump. He broke out of that on Monday by scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. There was more space on the floor with the absence of Zach LaVine, who was given the night off, so he could play on Tuesday instead.
Markkanen needs to continue to be aggressive. He seems passive at times. At the end of the day, he is a gifted scorer and needs to command the ball like it. At the same time, we have to remember that this kid is still just a rookie. Hopefully, he can carry some confidence into Tuesday night and the rest of this week.
2. Kris Dunn Returning to Form
Speaking of players getting back on track, point guard Kris Dunn looked as good as I’ve seen him before he suffered a concussion against the Golden State Warriors. He scored 23 points in 30 minutes. He is the key to the Bulls on offense–he really makes the team go. I’ve been saying this for two weeks now, but Dunn, LaVine, and Markkanen need to continue to play together and develop some chemistry.
Like it or not, those three players are the future of the franchise. They are the building blocks Gar Forman and John Paxson have to work with in order to one day contend again.
3. Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio are…BAD
In the least shocking news ever, Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio are actually bad. Who would have thought?
There’s not much more to say about them. They have been given a chance to prove themselves and have done the exact opposite. In 18 minutes, Payne scored two points. Felicio wasn’t much better, scoring four points in 30 minutes. It’s safe to say the Bulls made a mistake on both of these players. It wouldn’t shock me if both were off the roster by the start of next season.
I’ve been very critical of the Bulls this season on the number of minutes veteran players like Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez were playing. Well, since the post All-Star game gameplan was developed, that hasn’t been much of a problem. Holiday did play 35 minutes on Monday night, but that was because LaVine was out. If Holiday plays tomorrow night I would be surprised. Lopez should also see some time on Tuesday.
As long as Lopez and Holiday sit now and again, I’m fine. There is no reason they should play more than the young guys at this point in the year anyway.
5. The Tank Rolls On
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for the Bulls to beat the Philadelphia 76ers last week. That’s the fan in me, but, of course, I know losing is the best thing for the team in the long run. The last four games have been great for just that. The Bulls are going to be running many “different” lineups out there the rest of the season and it will be hard for those units to be successful because of the lack of chemistry. And yes, you guessed it. That bodes very, very well for tanking and getting the highest possible draft pick.