As the trade deadline approaches, Nikola Vucevic claims the Bulls “have enough” to win
The NBA trade deadline is only three days away. On February 8th NBA teams will no longer be able to make trades. And because of the disappointing nature of the 2023-2024 Bulls season, trade rumors have been flying like wildfire.
Everyone from Zach LaVine to DeMar DeRozan. And Alex Caruso, to Andre Drummond, has been linked with potential trades in the past few months.
Recently there was also a report from The Athletic that pointed to the Bulls front office being hesitant to commit to any major roster changes. Which is par for the course for the Bulls for the past five-plus seasons.
The ownership refuses to make moves to help the Bulls compete. Instead, they are completely fine sticking with the status quo. If the Bulls make no moves by the 2024 trade deadline that would mark 3 straight seasons of no trades.
Something has to change, moves need to be made
The fact is the Bulls’ roster isn’t good enough to compete for a championship. Injuries haven’t helped. Injuries have ravaged the Bulls roster. Up and down the depth chart there are players out for a significant amount of time. Recently Zach LaVine has chosen to undergo surgery on his right foot, ending his season. Alex Caruso has been injured on and off this season. And even depth players like Dalen Terry have sustained injuries.
Even when the Bulls have been healthy this season they have struggled to win games.
Nikola Vucevic doesn’t seem to agree, he thinks that the Bulls “have enough” to win. Vucevic had this to say when asked if the Bulls need to make any moves by the trade deadline.
“Those are things that are out of my control. We feel we have enough,” Vučević said. “We have a lot of stuff we can do better on the court. We’ve also had some stuff, like injuries, that’s unfortunate to deal with. But I believe we have enough.”
Bulls fan and independent sports media personality Kenny Beecham questioned Nikola Vucevic’s comments on twitter.
Enough for what exactly? https://t.co/vAd9mMVdzU
— KENNY BEECHAM (@KOT4Q) February 5, 2024
Beecham makes a great point, enough for what? Enough to win the NBA Championship? Not with the state of this roster right now.
Enough for the 12th seed? Enough to get bounced in the paly-in tournament? or Enough to end up in the lottery?
The stats don’t back up Nikola Vucevic’s claim of “having enough”
Nikola Vucevic is known to be a team centric guy. He doesn’t tend to speak out on the teams struggles outside of, “we need to play better.” He is right, they do need to play better, but even that might not be enough. The Bulls have struggled to find any sense of identity in the offensive half court this season.
The Bulls currently occupy the 9th seed which is a play-in tournament spot. Technically a post-season game but not a playoff spot. The Bulls have a 23-27 win-loss record and are only one win ahead of a streaking Atlanta Hawks team.
The Bulls have 6 players averaging more than 10 points per game. Yet this isn’t enough to win at least half of the teams games. Vucevic claims the Bulls don’t need to make any big roster moves. Yet the Bulls have the 26th ranked offense in the NBA in points-per-game. The only teams ranked lower are Miami, Portland Charlotte and Memphis.
Yes, even the Pistons are averaging more points this season than the Bulls. You can’t win in the NBA with an offense that lethargic. With a max player in Zach LaVine and a highly paid stretch big like Vucevic, these offensive numbers are pretty bad.
According to NBA.com, the Bulls defense is statistically solid. They have the 14th best defensive rating this season. Right in the middle of the NBA as far as defensive production goes isn’t terrible.
The Bulls also have the number one ranked paint defense. The Bulls allow the least amount of opponent points in the paint in the NBA. Coming in with 44.2 opponents points in the paint outranks even Minnesota, who has the highest ranked overall defense in the NBA this season.
All those defensive stats don’t mean much when the team can’t score points. The Bulls struggle to protect and maintain leads because of the underperforming offense.
Nikola Vucevic is part of the problem
Nikola Vucevic is part of why the Bulls can’t win games. One of the biggest features of Vucevic’s game is his ability to stretch the floor. He has never been an elite 3-point shooter in his career, but in 2023-2024 his 3-point percentage has dipped significantly.
Vucevic has a career 3-point percentage of 34.2% compared to this seasons 26.9%, a career low. With Vucevic struggling from 3, his game is very one dimensional. He becomes easy to limit on the defensive end of the court for opposing teams.
Where do the Bulls go from here?
The Bulls cannot just make a few simple moves and find success. It has been evident this season that the core of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic is just not good enough. One playoff appearance in the last three seasons with that core isn’t good enough. An entire roster reconstruction is likely necessary.
The Bulls have solid young players like Coby White, Dalen Terry and Patrick Williams. As well as solid veteran pieces like Alex Caruso. The future isn’t all bleak for the Bulls, but changes need to be made. From the front office down to the team on the court, the franchise needs a rework. That is the only way this franchise can get out of neutral and get back to being competitive.
The Chicago Bulls return to action on Tuesday to host the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip-off is at 8PM EST
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