The Chicago Bulls‘ 6-8 start was hardly a surprising development given the fact that starting point-man Lonzo Ball continues to be sidelined with a bum knee. Sure, there’s hope that Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Co. can hold things together while he recovers from his latest surgery but, even with Ball in the fold, Chicago’s ability to keep pace in an improving Eastern Conference is hardly a certainty.
The team’s sluggish start notwithstanding, there have absolutely been some positive developments in the Windy City, including some pleasant surprises.
Ayo Dosunmu has largely acquitted himself well in Ball’s absence, logging a 12-4-3 line and posting an eFG% of 56.0. Nikola Vucevic has rediscovered his outside shot (and been marginally better on the defensive end, too). Andre Drummond is boarding the ball at an ungodly rate (9.6 RPG) considering he’s playing just 16.8 minutes per game.
However, the early-season performance of veteran guard and former All-Star Goran Dragic may be the biggest story of the bunch.
Dragic Is Partying Like It’s 2017
Dragic’s 2021-22 season was a particularly wild one for a player of his stature/track record of winning. After his beloved Miami Heat dumped him in the Kyle Lowry trade, he spent most of his time with the Toronto Raptors away from the team. Then he was dealt to the San Antonio Spurs, who promptly waived him.
He eventually found his way to the Brooklyn Nets. And while he performed well during his abbreviated stint with the club, he was largely an afterthought amid the onslaught of Kyrie-KD-Ben Simmons-related drama.
Fast-forward to now and the 36-year-old is enjoying an unexpected renaissance in his new digs. He has been so good, in fact, that Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley just namechecked him as one of the Association’s biggest surprises in 2022-23.
“Dragic’s start to this season is more than a sprint; it’s like he’s been shot out of a cannon — and right into a rejuvenation pool. He’s pumping in 10.1 points on 45.7 percent shooting and 3.6 assists against 1.4 turnovers in only 19.3 minutes per night. He’s also shooting a career-best 46.8% from range and leading the Bulls with a plus-20 net differential.”
Dragic Settling Into His New Home
Dragic is clearly excelling in his effort to integrate into a new team dynamic. Adjusting to the change in location could be another story, though. After all, the Windy City weather represents a radical departure for him, given that he’s spent his career in places like South Beach, the Valley of the Sun and Space City.
“Every city is different, and I’ve had luck for most of my career to be in warm places,” Dragic said recently, via the Chicago Tribune. “So this is one of the big differences this season, being in Chicago.”
Weather aside, though, Dragic largely looks to be settling in as well off the court as he is on it.
“I like the city. It has a big Serbian community, so it’s like being home a little bit. I still need to explore a little bit, but ‘Vooch’ and Marko [Simonovic] are here, and they’re going to show me around a little,” Dragic said. “We’ll see about winter. I still have to buy a jacket.”