Making the NBA Playoffs would be a colossal failure if you are a fan of the Chicago Bulls. As a Bulls fan, the idea of the team not making the postseason is a strange one, though it might be what is best for the proud franchise.
Most NBA prognosticators expected the Bulls to be one of a small handful of teams who could challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown. As it currently stands, the Bulls are fighting just to get into the playoffs to perhaps face the Cavaliers in the first round of the postseason as an eighth seed. Given the original expectations, that is a failure for the Bulls.
Since when does making the NBA Playoffs constitute a failure?
On paper, the Chicago Bulls are much better than their record suggests. Fans do not recognize it with an even record of 38-38 and given how poorly they have played. The Bulls have a roster made up of two current all-stars and a former MVP who is beginning to round into form after three seasons dealing with knee surgeries. With the players on a roster that has solid resumes, it is hard to come to grips with the current state of the team.
There is no chemistry on this Chicago Bulls team.
For much of the season, fans have been treated to plenty of bad defense, lack of effort and miscommunication. Also on display has been some team tuning out of head coach Fred Hoiberg. As it stands, Hoiberg looks like a terrible fit as the Chicago Bulls’ coach.
Most people predicted that there would be problems early on as the players got used to a new voice on the sidelines. Playing under former head coach Tom Thibodeau gave most guys an edge to them. If they did not have an edge on the basketball court, they would find themselves sitting on the bench. This season, it just seems as if the edge is gone. How else could the Bulls justify where they are in the standings?
Injuries have hit the Bulls this season. There is little difference between this season and the last two, as several players missed time with ailments. The 2012-13 campaign was the year that the Bulls played without Derrick Rose as he recovered from ACL surgery. Despite not having Rose that year, the Bulls finished 45-37.
The 45 wins were the lowest win total the Bulls had in five years with Tom Thibodeau as the coach. With six games remaining, the Bulls will have their worst record in the last six seasons. It is easy to suggest that coach Fred Hoiberg and the players are having a hard time adjusting to each other.
It is not as if the Bulls’ players are trying to buy into Hoiberg’s coaching. Just a few days ago, power forward Taj Gibson came to his coach’s defense (courtesy of CSN Chicago).
“Everybody tries to discredit this man, and it’s rough. He’s a rookie coach taking on a veteran group. Give him some slack, man. It’s hard enough as it is to come in. You’ve got the whole city of Chicago on your back. It’s tough. But I think he’s just learning. He’s learning, he’s doing a good job, he’s staying with us, and I’m riding with him no matter what.”
No one has been as vocal about Fred Hoiberg as Gibson has.
Gibson’s words needed to have been said, just a bit sooner. It needed to have been said before the Bulls went on their slide which started January 7th. The Bulls were 10 games over the.500 mark, and they have a 14-26 record since.
The Bulls, with what they have on their roster, should not be in the position they are in now, which is being in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons. Sadly, making the playoffs now would be a failure.
Despite how good the roster looks on paper, missing out on the postseason exposes just how poorly constructed the team is. Few players should be safe on this Chicago Bulls team. That is why the trade discussion (via ESPN) involving star guard Jimmy Butler is being thrown out there.
Would it be wise for the Bulls to part with their best player? Of course not! The talked about trade inquiry means that the Bulls are at least contemplating ways to improve the team. The admission is helpful in itself.
Losing out on the playoffs also have the Bulls in the NBA Draft Lottery. They will likely have the worst odds at getting the number one pick, but the odds are better that they can get one of the next two picks.
Chicago can use their pick in a package for a star player such as Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins or the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin. The Bulls can even go with a lesser named player. Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets comes to mind. The idea of having a lottery pick entices other teams to make deals, and if the Bulls wind up in the lottery, they could have theirs to dangle.
It all vanishes if the Chicago Bulls make the playoffs.
Sure, having a winning season is always a great thing, but this Chicago Bulls team is not playing winning basketball these days. The reality of missing the playoffs would wake them up and force some sweeping changes. Making the postseason only means that it is business as usual, and fans would be forced to see just about the same team out there next season.
[Photo by Elsa/Getty Images]