The Chicago Bulls are just 18-46 this season but even with their poor record, there are reasons for optimism and Robin Lopez is one of them.
The last two seasons have been difficult for the Bulls, last year they went 27-55, failing to reach at least 30 wins for the first time since 2003-04 and while they were expected to be better this season, things didn’t exactly go according to their plan. A poor start after injuries to key players like Lauri Markkanen led to the firing of former head coach Fred Hoiberg and the Bulls were out of playoff contention early on.
The Bulls have played better basketball under Jim Boylen but they’ve won just 12 of the 39 games under him and their overall 18-46 record isn’t exactly impressive.
Despite having the fourth-worst record in the league, the Chicago Bulls are starting to have an edge, as well as an identity. The Bulls found their starting forward of the future in Otto Porter Jr., who’s been getting the job done at both ends of the floor while creating for his teammates, Zack LaVine has become a better scorer and facilitator while starting to play better defense, Lauri Markkanen has exceeded expectations, proving that he’s a star in the making and Robin Lopez has embraced his role and stepped up his game.
Robin Lopez Can Still Produce
Every team needs at least one player who does the little things that aren’t reflected in the stat sheet, the Bulls had that with Joakim Noah, someone who can set good screens, hustle after loose balls or be a good presence in the locker room.
Robin Lopez also fits that description and what he’s done since last season can’t be overlooked. Lopez’s role in the latter half of last season was reduced because the Bulls wanted to give the younger players more minutes and the same thing happened this year, when rookie Wendell Carter Jr., the No. 7 pick in the NBA Draft, was named the starting center.
Even with his limited playing time, Lopez remained professional and once Carter was forced to miss the rest of the season because of a thumb injury, Lopez stepped up and his production in February was outstanding. He scored 15 points or more six times (including two 20-point performances) and averaged 15.5 points on 64.0 percent shooting in 10 games.
Bulls Open to Bringing Lopez Back
His recent level of production and his professionalism are just two of the reasons why Bulls head coach Jim Boylen would like the team to bring him back.
“It’s his decision, but any program, including us, would be grateful for him,” Jim Boylen told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“If he wants to be a part of what we’re doing, that would be great. Obviously, the business side of it is the business side of it, but Bulls across his chest means something. Even through all the trade rumors, all the junk that goes on before the deadline, he has a winning attitude and a great spirit.”
Bulls.com writer Sam Smith also said it is not out of the question that Robin Lopez re-signs with the team. Lopez has shown his value on offense after Wendell Carter Jr.’s injury and he’s always been a great influence in the locker room.
The front office was concerned that the veteran center couldn’t be effective switching and getting out to the perimeter defensively, but recently few teams have beaten the Bulls at Lopez’ position. Lopez will test the market but with the frontcourt needs of the Bulls expanding, his return for next season will be under consideration.