The Chicago Bulls’ early success and recent failures can be attributed to their inability to match highly talented teams. While they got off to an excellent start, the Bulls have recently dropped to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference: three and a half games back to the first seed Boston Celtics.
Recent injuries to key players have plagued the Bulls. Starting off, Patrick Williams, the team’s starting power forward, sustained a torn ligament in his left wrist, requiring surgery and sidelining him until last week. It has been difficult for the Bulls to replace Williams' defensive impact, averaging nearly two steals and one block per game. Lonzo Ball, arguably the most important supporting piece on the Bulls’ roster, is also currently injured—and boy does the team miss him. His passing prowess on the offensive side of the floor creates highlight plays game after game; not to mention his improved shooting stroke, shooting an astounding 42 percent from three-point arc compared to his 38 percent just last year. The Bulls' offensive rating has dropped from fifth in the league to eleventh without his leadership on the court. Eager fans await his return soon after it was revealed his recovery process had to be elongated due to setbacks.
Alex Caruso has also been an extremely important piece to the roster. Having been sidelined for an extended period of time, Caruso has recently rejoined the team. In a dirty play, however, the Milwaukee Bucks' Grayson Allen sent the Bull flying as he attacked the rim, leaving Caruso with a fractured right wrist. After being assessed with a flagrant two foul and a one-game suspension for his actions, for the next few days, Allen was the most hated man in Chicago. After only being back for a little over a week, Caruso filled the stat sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and zero turnovers in his 38 minutes of play.
Besides the injuries, star player DeMar DeRozan has tried his best to will the team to victory every night. While Bleacher Report columnist Zach Buckley called his signing the worst of the season, DeRozan has put up almost MVP numbers, averaging 27.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists on the dot. This winter, he was the first player in NBA history to hit back-to-back game-winners in two consecutive games. Continued stellar performances earned DeRozan an All-Star call-up this past February, marking his fifth appearance with four coming from his time in Toronto.
His right-hand man, Zach LaVine, has also continued to improve this year and was named to his second all-star team this year. Lavine saw himself putting up excellent numbers as well, scoring almost 25 points a game, grabbing 4.7 boards, and dropping 4.6 dimes a game.
The Bulls will be able to bounce back soon when the facilitating wizard Lonzo Ball is healthy again in the coming weeks. The wins will come once we see a Bulls team with consistent big man play—a dull point on the Bulls knife to cleanly slice through the competition. Losing Patrick Williams’s defense has led the Bulls being scored on by bigs easily. The starting center, Nikola Vucevic, has not produced great numbers on the defensive side; there is potential in improving his defense. The Bulls need to raise their rebounding numbers to reach their true potential. It is close to playoff time, and the Bulls need to get their stuff together soon.