Key Bulls in Critical Position Down NBA Stretch Run

Ayo Dosunmu

Stacy Revere/Getty Images Ayo Dosunmu

The Chicago Bulls have been in a slide since the All-Star break. The team has gone just 5-11 since the break and has fallen to fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls currently are 43-32  and are tied record-wise with the Toronto Raptors. Chicago is also just one game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers in seventh place.

Several things have caused the Bulls’ struggles this season. The team has dealt with a laundry list of injuries to Patrick Williams, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso. Zach LaVine has also been playing with an injured knee that has to be managed.

Chicago also lacks size on the interior which has made defending opposing big men a challenge. While it’s too late to address some of the Bulls’ issues this season, there are some things that they can do better.

Role Players

One thing that would help the Bulls down the stretch of the season and in the postseason is if they got more consistent production from their role players. In the Bulls’ loss to the Knicks on Monday, the team got just 11 points off the bench and only 40 points from players not named DeRozan and LaVine.

Since LaVine is playing with an already injured knee and DeRozan has carried the bulk of the scoring load this season, they both need some help lightening the load on their shoulders. Nikola Vucevic has still played well on the offensive end for the Bulls this season averaging 17.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, but the teams’ other players have been inconsistent.

Since his return from injury Caruso has provided the Bulls with some much-needed help on the defensive end of the floor. Williams also returned recently after missing months due to injury.

In the five games since his return, Williams’s play has been uneven. In his first game back Williams was aggressive in looking for his offense taking eight shots but has not been near as aggressive since. In 13 minutes against the Knicks, he didn’t even take a shot. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan after the game said Williams is still finding his legs.

While that might be the case, the Bulls need Williams to give them more. If Williams can stay on the floor more then he can help the team with physicality on the defensive end and some occasional offense.

Ultimately if the Bulls are going to be able to get some help on offense it will likely come from Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu. White has been in a slump lately averaging just 9.2 points per game over the last ten games. He’s been struggling from the field shooting just 37.6% from the field and 32% from three. If White can get his shot going it could be a big help for the Bulls.

Dosunmu has had a strong rookie campaign and his play might even earn him some major recognition. He’s averaged 8.5 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game so far this season. While Dosunmu has played well it’s clear at this point in the season that the Bulls will need more from him offensively down the stretch.

Looking Ahead

The Bulls have a tough stretch of games ahead to close the regular season. Chicago’s last five games of the regular season will all be against playoff teams.

In particular, the Bulls’ first three games in April could be crucial as they host the Heat, Bucks, and Celtics. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to catch any of those teams in the standings, but playing well against those teams could help build some confidence for the playoffs.

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