Chicago Bulls: from best team of all time to absolute chaos
When someone says Chicago Bulls, there are a few things usual NBA fan thinks about: 72 wins and 10 losses in a single season, absolute domination with Michael Jordan in a driving seat or simply six NBA titles in eight seasons. Although, despite a few good moments after Jordan era Bulls are looking if not horrible than very bad.
After Jordan retired for the second time, Bulls did not recover for a while. Seven seasons after the best decade for the team, that is how long Bulls needed to make NBA playoffs again. Bulls spent six years at the very bottom, four of the six seasons Chicago were dead last at 15th place in Eastern conference, once – 14th and once – 12th.
Bulls with the first pick at the 1999 NBA draft picked forward Elton Brand. Pick was reasonable and definitely not a bust. In the first two seasons with Chicago Bulls Brand averaged 20.1 points a game and future for big fella was very bright. Although, Bulls decided to trade Brand to Brian Skinner and Tyson Chandler. Skinner did not even play a single game for Bulls while Chandler spent five years in Chicago. Best season of all the years centre spent in Chicago was when he averaged 8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.8 block per game. Not the best stats knowing the fact that for Chandler Bulls gave away first NBA pick.
Year after, Bulls with the seventh pick in NBA draft selected Chris Mihm and with the fourth pick – Marcus Fizer. Fizer spent four seasons in a team and in his second year he averaged 12.3 points and 5.6 rebounds but season after he played only in 38 games and a year after only 46. Fact that says a lot about former fourth pick: at the end of his career Fizer played in Bahrain, Venezuela and Uruguay. One of the good moments past Jordan era was Mihm trade to Jamal Crawford. Mihm throughout his whole NBA career averaged 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, while Crawford got up to 15,3 points and 3,5 assists a game and, even, one year in Chicago he averaged 17 points and 5.1 rebounds.
If this does not seem as a very bad decisions so fasten your seatbelts because Bulls in 2001 NBA draft with the fourth pick selected Eddy Curry. Center, even, averaged 16 points in a season and did not seem such a bad decision at that time. Although, 136 kg big guy was chosen before the players like Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas.
Year after that, Bulls drafted Jay Williams. Point guard after one season was involved in an accident with his motorcycle where he suffered from severe injuries. After Williams went against the rule in his contract that involves not driving motorcycles, he was released from the team. After this accident Bulls drafter Kirk Hinrich, year after Ben Gordon and in 2006 NBA draft they selected LaMarcus Aldridge.
Let‘s stop with San Antonio Spurs power forward. Aldridge did not even play in Chicago because of a trade. He was sent to Portland for Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. Thomas best season in Chicago and best in his whole career was when he averaged 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds, while Khryapa played only 42 games in two seasons averaging less than three points a game. Five time All-Star, three times selected to All-NBA Third team, Aldridge was given away for almost nothing.
Although, after one of the worst decisions in Bulls franchise history everything changed. Year after Bulls drafted Joakim Noah and in 2008, they picked Derrick Rose. That is when the Bulls got different. In Rose rookie year Bulls was seventh in Eastern conference and forced even game seven against Boston Celtics, whom, by the way, won NBA championship that year.
Then followed one more adaption year and in 2010-11 season Bulls had the best record in whole NBA, Rose became the youngest ever MVP in NBA history and Chicago reached Eastern conference finals where fell short against LeBron James and Miami Heat.
2011-12 season looked like the year when Bulls will finally win a championship after Jordan era but that is where it all went downhill. At the end of the season in a first Playoff game against Philadelphia 76ers, former MVP torn ACL in his left knee. Rose missed the remains of the Playoffs and the entire 2012-13 season. Bulls failed to give enough help to Rose while he was healthy and threw away any chances to win a championship any time soon.
After looking to all “best” Bulls’ decisions in 21st century we can come back to nowadays. Traded Chicago MVP Rose in an offseason looked like a reasonable decision, as he could not get away from all his injuries. Rose even thanked Bulls for giving him a fresh start.
After Bulls missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 after Rose joined the team, Chicago started a rebuild. They received Robin Lopez and a 24-year-old Jerian Grant. Bulls said they believe in Grant but the fact worth mentioning is that the point guard is a nephew of former NBA legend Horace Grant, whom is by the way an advisor to president and chief operating officer in Chicago Bulls. Bulls also selected Denzel Valentine in NBA draft and it all looked like a proper rebuild. Although, Bulls signed a contracts with 35-year-old Dwyane Wade and 31-year-old Rajon Rondo. These contracts sent mixed feelings to Bulls fan as everyone expected a rebuild, although, big names next to Jimmy Butler gave hope for another shot at the title.
All the hopes flew away quickly. Bulls are ninth in Eastern conference with 32 wins and 35 losses. Butler with a beast mode on became exhausted, Wade just got old and point guard position just got ridiculous. Grant became third point guard this season in Chicago to start game one night and the other do not play because of a coach decision.
First two are Michael Carter-Williams and Rondo. That is where it gets interesting. Bulls’ front office with Gar Forman and John Paxson is just something… Couple weeks ago they traded Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson to Elfrid Payton, whom by the way became fifth point guard in Chicago. They started to send mixed feelings again to fans where it looks like they are rebuilding and trying to get as best draft pick as possible.
Also worth mentioning, that after firing arguably one of the best head coach in Bulls history Tom Thibodeau they hired Fred Hoiberg, coach without NBA experience. Just a reminder, Thibodeau asked front office with a 29th pick in 2012 to draft present Golden State Warriors superstar Draymond Green. Instead, Bulls drafter Marquis Teague. Point guard averaged less than 2.5 points in two years spent in Chicago while Green is already two times all-star, once he was selected in All-NBA second team, two times in NBA All-Defensive first team and was a key factor for Warriors championship run in 2015.
That was a first fracture between Thibodeau and Bulls front office. After Thibodeau left, front office signed Hoiberg that came from NCAA with a five-year deal. Coach that likes three points in his offense were given players like Rose, Butler, Wade or Rondo. These are guys that the offense is supposed to be built around.
Even though, Hoiberg likes three points his options was not the best. Butler is the only player that is shooting more than 30% from downtown with 33%. While neither Rose, nor Wade, nor Rondo does not reach even 30% from three point line in their careers.
Although, if last season good excuse for Hoiberg was that this is his first season, so this year all his abilities are shown clearly. Questionable decisions in point guard position, lack of courage as a head coach, not being able to control his superstars, that is how you can describe Hoiberg as a NBA head coach. Bulls’ fans were signing petition to fire Forman and Paxson and now the same fans wants Hoiberg to be gone as well. Although, owner of the Bulls told that Forman and Paxson is safe while both guys from the front office said that Hoiberg is not going until his contract expires what means he has more than three more years in Chicago.
Once the best team ever called now does not even have a vision for their future. Nobody knows what Chicago Bulls are trying to do. With one of the best two-way guard in NBA Butler, nobody even knows if he is going to be in Chicago next season as there are rumours that he is also going to be traded same as fans’ favourite Rose. There is just one option and it is to wait and hope that front office like that is not going to ruin such a great team entirely and not going to waste such a talents as Jimmy Butler.