The Chicago Bulls have lost four games in a row, and judging off their upcoming schedule, losing might continue a bit longer.
The Bulls take on Cleveland in Chicago on Wednesday, followed by a road game in Milwaukee on Friday to face the Bucks for the first time this season.
The Bulls are expected to be without star guard Zach LaVine, Derrick Jones Jr and Javonte Green, and could also be without Lonzo Ball (knee) and Alex Caruso (reconditioning).
While the Bulls will likely be with both DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic for both games, neither has played particularly well as late, in particularly Vucevic, who finished just 2-of-13 shooting in Monday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The center has struggled most of the season, sporting inefficient scoring numbers across the board, compared to his usual production. Vucevic is hitting just 43.5% of his shots on the season, including 32.7% from downtown, after the loss to the Grizzlies.
While DeRozan has been more productive, his shooting has dropped off as of late, as he’s hit just 43.2% from the field over his past 10 games.
Going into two games against top-tier Eastern Conference opponents with both DeRozan and Vucevic off their games, and no LaVine to inject some balance, the outlook for grabbing a win appears bleak.
However, the Bulls could decide to use the next two games as a training ground for both Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu, both of whom are currently starting in place of Ball and LaVine.
While the duo of White and Dosunmu is meant to mostly play against second-stringers, they’ve now been thrown into the mix against starting lineups, playing extended minutes against a higher level of competition than most would have anticipated.
Fortunately, White has starting experience and seems to be taking an evolutionary step these days, while Dosunmu is getting better on a daily basis and potentially looking like a future starter in this league.
White has averaged 17.9 points over his past 10 games, and Dosunmu has been on a tear, netting 10.7 points over his past seven, including consecutive double-doubles – which in theory will only make them both even more effective when the Bulls, at some point, are able to run out a healthy rotation.
Adding to that mix is recently signed two-way player Malcolm Hill, who put up 12 points and eight rebounds in the loss to Memphis, while looking like a competent defender.
At 6-foot-6 and around 200 pounds, Hill isn’t exactly imposing physically, but he needn’t be given his footwork and attention to detail.
The 26-year-old rookie appears unfazed by the NBA level, which could go a long way in the regular season for Chicago, if injuries will be a constant theme for them.
Of course, the Bulls could try different approaches in the next few games, if they’re keen on staying competitive, but the primary focus during the couple of days should be player development.
Both White and Dosunmu are expected to have set roles going into the playoffs, thus making it a priority for them to get in their reps and continue their current rhythm.
Just don’t expect the Bulls to necessarily win a ton during that process.