In a year that has seen the team get off to a disappointing 7-10 start, there have actually been some positive developments for the Chicago Bulls so far in 2022-23. Chief among them are turnarounds on the defensive front and on the glass.
After ranking just 24th in the Association in defensive rating last season, the Bulls have jumped to the No. 10 spot, conceding a respectable 110.5 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, they’re just outside the top 10 with a rebounding percentage of 50.6 in 2022-23, which is up from 49.5% a year ago.
Nevertheless, the team is operating at a shortfall in both areas at the power forward position, where former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams is working to find himself as a player. And, even as he’s fresh off a 17-point night against the Boston Celtics — and rocking shooting splits of 48-42-95 for the year — his offense has been questioned, too.
There’s no doubt that Williams is the Bulls’ most important long-term piece not named Zach LaVine, of course. But if the team wants to make the most of its current core’s shrinking window, he may not be the best fit to start at the four right now.
With that in mind, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley just pitched a veteran forward with NBA Finals experience as a trade target/possible replacement, going so fas as to suggest that the Bulls may already be considering him as an option.
B/R Floats Jae Crowder as a Possibility
Buckley just put out his list of trade targets for the Bulls to consider as the pre-trade deadline rumor mill begins to churn. And one of the players that he namechecked — Jae Crowder of the Phoenix Suns — could seemingly step right into the starting power forward spot and bring a level of improvement on both sides of the ball thanks to his versatility and experience.
“Crowder has the size to bang with bigger forwards and enough quickness to keep in front of the speedier ones. His three-ball isn’t the surest around (career 34.6%), but it seems like it’s there when he needs it,” Buckley wrote.
“For a Bulls team that isn’t sure what Patrick Williams can be or whether they can squeeze enough offense out of Javonte Green, they almost certainly must be paying close attention to Crowder’s situation in Phoenix.”
Over his two years in the Valley of the Sun, the 32-year-old Crowder averaged 9.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals per contest and shot 36.9% from deep. During the 2021 Finals, he logged a 12-9-2-2 line and bagged better than 40% of his triples.
Crowder Is More ‘On the Block’ Than Just About Anyone in the League
After seeing his role get reduced slightly last season — and with an additional reduction expected to happen this year — Crowder decided to request a trade out of Phoenix just before training camp. The Suns are doing their best to oblige the baller in that request, too.
The problem has been finding a deal netting them a win-now piece to aid in their quest to get back to the championship round. And the Bulls don’t really have that piece to send out, either. Buckley does see one potential solution, though:
“Chicago, however, could have a workaround by sending a long-term asset like Coby White to a rebuilder, who then sends a win-now piece or two back to the Suns.”