The Chicago Bulls may riding the Pat Bev train to respectability right now, but the fact remains that the 2022-23 campaign has become more about silver linings than actually making a measurable impact in the playoff proceedings.
There was hope initially that the team could climb back up the standings after having held the No. 1 spot in the East at various junctures in 2021-22. Flash forward to now, though, and Lonzo Ball has been shut down until who knows when, Patrick Williams has yet to live up to his draft status and Zach LaVine‘s beef with head coach Billy Donovan has raised eyebrows throughout the year.
Add it all up and you’re left with a squad desperate for play-in scraps.
For all that has gone wrong this season, though, Bulls fans have continually been offered glimpses of hope and promises of a better tomorrow amid the roller-coaster ride.
On Thursday, they got a big-time boost in the good vibes department in the form of Carlik Jones’ epic outburst to close out the G League regular season.
Bulls’ Carlik Jones Goes Ballistic in G League Finale
Although the final standings won’t by crystalized until Saturday, Chicago’s G League affiliate — the Windy City Bulls — are on the verge of securing a postseason spot after beating the College Park Skyhawks 126-115 on Thursday night at NOW Arena. Along the way, they got an epic performance out of Jones.
In 39 minutes on the court, the 25-year-old scored a game-high 44 points on 16-of-24 shooting and 5-of-10 from three-point range. He also added seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and a blocked shot to lead his squad to win No. 18 on the year (against 14 losses).
After landing a camp deal, a two-way pact and, finally, a standard NBA deal with the Bulls this season, it’s clear that Jones has made an impression on the team’s top decision-makers. However, that hasn’t really translated into a real shot on the main roster, as he has logged just two appearances with the big Bulls in ’22-23.
That said, he has made great use of his time in the organization’s developmental wing.
Over a combined 43 games of Showcase Cup and regular-season competition in the G League, Jones has averaged 23.5 points, 7.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per outing with 49-37-76 shooting splits.
In doing so, he has made a strong case for a better opportunity next season.
Bulls See Bump in B/R’s Latest NBA Power Rankings
Bleacher Report just dropped the March 24 edition of its Association power rankings. And while there was no seismic leap to be made for Chicago, the club did manage to move up a single spot in the list, from No. 22 last week to No. 21 now.
Wrote B/R’s Andy Bailey:
With the solid recent play, they should now have enough of a cushion between themselves and 11th place to make the play-in tournament, and their leading scorers have done plenty to build that cushion.
During the 5-2 stretch, Zach LaVine averaged 30.7 points, 5.4 assists and 3.1 threes while shooting 42.3 percent from deep, while DeRozan averaged 28.3 points, 5.0 assists and 1.6 threes, with a 42.3 three-point percentage.