Why Are the Chicago Bulls Struggling Despite Bringing In All-Star Center Nikola Vucevic?

Published 04/17/2021, 6:02 AM EDT
Apr 2, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots the ball while defended by Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the first quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports


The Chicago Bulls were one of the most active teams in this season’s trade deadline. Given how the team was performing until the deadline, the Bulls had two choices- either have a win-now move or continue to make strides with the existing lineup.

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The Bulls opted for a win-now move and traded for Orlando Magic’s All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. With the talent that Vucevic brings to the table, he seemed like a perfect fit alongside Zach LaVine. But things haven’t been anywhere close for the Bulls.

Mar 31, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) shoots against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The team looks impressive on paper, but is clearly struggling with their new look roster. Since the Vucevic trade, the Bulls have a terrible record of only 3 wins and 9 losses. With this disappointing run of form, the Bulls have slipped to the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference. So what’s wrong with the Bulls?

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Lack of a proper point guard

The Bulls have immense attacking potential in their roster. With players like Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls have the capability to outscore majority of the teams in the NBA.

They might have a varied scoring arsenal with them, but they lack a prominent guard on their team. After using Coby White at the point guard position for the majority of the season, coach Billy Donovan has started using rotational guard Tomas Satoransky.

Jan 8, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Coby White (0) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris (88) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

But that guard depth hasn’t worked out for the Bulls so far. Their is a clear lack of playmaking, forcing LaVine to take on the reins as a distributor. While he averages decent numbers, his inexperience as a distributor clearly shows in the games with several turnovers.

The Bulls have a competent attacking unit with them, but they need to address their playmaking issue very soon.

Lack of lock down defenders

The biggest problem area for the Bulls is the lack of lock down defenders. While players like Garrett Temple, Daniel Theis, Thaddeus Young and Patrick Williams are elite defenders, only Williams is a regular starter for the team.

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The rest of the starters are sub standard in defense. While LaVine has made some improvements in perimeter defense, it is scary to see the lack of defending that Coby White and Lauri Markkanen bring to the side.

Mar 31, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan (center, seated) talks to players during a timeout in the first half against the Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Both players are way too inconsistent in offense and their lack of talent in defensive end doesn’t help either. This has forced rookie Williams to guard the best players in the league. While he has done a great job so far, his inexperience is still evident.

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The Bulls have two All-Star talents in LaVine and Vucevic. Given that LaVine will miss some games due to the league’s health and safety protocols, the Bulls’ chances of making it to the playoffs look rather slim.

The Bulls will look to build around their two All-Stars. Trading away players like Coby White and Lauri Markkanen might be risky but considering they are in a win-now mode, the Bulls need to be open to trade some of their young players.

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Aditya Mohapatra

1182 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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