Before the NBA’s coronavirus pandemic halted play throughout the NBA, the Chicago Bulls grasped a 22-43 record and currenty sit in third place in the Eastern Conference Central Division and eleventh place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings.
The Bulls won’t make the NBA Playoffs this season, but with the hiring of new GM Marc Eversley and a roster that includes Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Thaddeus Young, Otto Porter Jr., Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchison, Ryan Arcidiacono, Denzel Valentine and rookie, Coby White, their future could be bright.
Injuries have been the Bulls’ achilles heel this season despite the solid play of both Zach LaVine and Coby White.
Through 60 games this season, LaVine averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals per contest for the Chicago Bulls.
Zach LaVine may not have been formally named an NBA All-Star, but he sure put up All-Star numbers.”I think I’m one of the best 12 guys in the East right now,” LaVine told me in February.
“I believe in myself on the court, I know who I am and I know what I bring.”
White averaged 13.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game while also shooting 35.4% from downtown.
So what are the Bulls missing? “The Bulls just need to get a couple of dogs around them,” former Chicago Bulls guard Nate Robinson told me via Instagram Live.
“Guys that want to rebound; a Joakim Noah, they need a Luol Deng. They need somebody of that caliber of Bulls basketball to be around the young guys. Because Zach, you have your scorer. A guy that can lead you in many games and now you have to put more pieces around him to help them be that contending team in the playoffs and go far.”
During our discussion, Robinson, a three-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion also discussed who LaVine reminds him of. “Vince Carter almost damn near hits it on the head,” he told me.
“I would say, Zach has a little – I like his game because he can create off the dribble, create a shot for himself and others. If you’re able to do that, that will make you almost unguardable. One, he has athleticism. So when he gets by guys, he’s dunking and it’s easy. Guys don’t even want to jump with him so he has a lot of things going in his favor. And he has developed his game over the years from like, when he came into the league to when he had to wait and to be patient and he still had everything that he had now. It just wasn’t magnified because of the team that he was on and he had to wait. And when he got his opportunity, he came in and showed that he could really ball. He’s not just a dunker. You know, he did the 3-Point Contest, he plays defense, and he does everything. Everything you ask, he does and people don’t understand that Zach LaVine is 6’7” almost 6’8”; like, he’s taller than most people think. Like, the man can fly and the one thing that love about him is his work ethic. Him and his dad, they really grind so hard and when I seen – when he tore his ACL, I knew that he was going to come back even better because of the work that he puts in rehab and attacking and being ready for that moment. And he’s shown that and proven that he is one of the best players in the league.”
In addition to current Bulls talk, Nate Robinson discussed former Chicago Bulls point guard, Derrick Rose, a native of the city’s south side.
Rose, a three-time NBA All-Star was the NBA’s MVP as a member of the Bulls.
Rose had setbacks with injuries, but within the last few seasons he’s gotten healthy and found a rhythm in Detroit where he avereaged 18.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 50 games for the Pistons this season.
I asked Nate Robinson how cool it would be to see D-Rose back in a Bulls uniform and playing in a backcourt alongside Zach LaVine. “That would be fun to watch,” he said.
“Especially the struggles that D-Rose had to come back and play the best basketball. I think over the years, he has been unbelievable. A fun ride to watch, he’s been doing his thing and for a guy to go through so much turmoil, is tragic man. It was just fun to watch his career develop like it did. I know that he would love to come back home in front of his home crowd and ball out again and be a Chicago Bull. I would DEFINITELY pay to watch him in Chicago.”
With Derrick Rose being hurt during the 2012-13 NBA season, the Bulls signed Nate Robinson and Robinson averaged 13.1 points per game coming off of the bench.
Robinson was also memorable during the 2013 NBA Playoffs where his Bulls romped the Joe Johnson-Deron Williams led-Brooklyn Nets in a first round upset. “Honestly man, it was a blessing from God,” recalled Robinson.
“I was really blessed to have the opportunity. For one, people don’t understand that during that time, I had a non-guaranteed contract so they could’ve cut me at any time so I was already walking on eggshells. I was literally the third point guard off the bench; Kirk Hinrich started. You had Marquis Teague coming off the bench and then I was next. But I literally had to wait my turn and wait for the right opportunity to showcase what I could do. But God put me in the right position in the right place and the right time man, and honestly they needed me to perform and do what I did. I came to every practice, every game, every playoff postseason…everything. It was one of my favorite seasons that I will always remember.
Guided by head coach, Tom Thibodeau, Robinson went off in that series and scored as many as 34 points against the Nets. “Chicago welcomed me with open arms so that made it real easy to play for such a great organization,” he said.
“And then it’s like magic when you put on that jersey. You feel that energy and that power and that aura that Jordan, Pippen and those guys laid that foundation in Chicago. Like, you feel that when you put that jersey on and I just wanted the fans and the people to know like, “If I ever have the opportunity to play real minutes, this is how I play.” And I showcased that I wasn’t just a dunker and somebody that came to the game to see that I wasn’t some type of circus act; just a little guy that was really about his business and wanted to go out there and cook muthafuckas. I wanted to come out and show that I was a winner, and anybody that’s going against me, I’ma try to cook ‘em.”