It’s the 2017-2018 season, and the Bulls are right where we expected them to be. Five games in, they’ve lost four and won one. So, they’re on track to win about 20 and lose the other 62.
With five games to assess, I thought it was a good time to reveal five things you should know about our Bulls.
ONE: Lauri Markkanen (The Finnisher)
The Finnisher is gonna be good. He gave the Cavs a scare in the first half earlier this week. I guess there’s no time to read the scouting report when you’re “that other guy,” or his supporting cast. Basically, the Cavs players forgot to guard Markkanen.
He got about a zillion threes (OK, he actually made five three-pointers), and for a minute, it seemed like the Bulls could actually win the game. Silly me. I guess that’s what halftime is for. To adjust the game plan. The Cavs knew who Markkanen was by Q3 and Q4, found a way to contain him, and the Bulls lost in the end.
But there is reason to be encouraged about the rook, aka the Finnisher, the Finnish Mamba, the Markksman. Now all the Bulls need to do is to add Cinjo – the Norwegian Ninja – and they could really set themselves apart. What other NBA team do you know with two star Nordic players? Think about it.
TWO: It’s gonna be interesting
Not sure if the major Bulls story of the season made its way beyond Chicago yet, but the Bobby Portis vs. Nikola Mirotic UFC fight from a few weeks ago is adding a lot of interest to this otherwise dull start.
Portis punched Niko, sending him to the ER. Niko was concussed, and has facial fractures which require surgery. And all of this at a Fred Hoiberg practice? “Crazy Eyes” Portis is living up to his name.
And on the other side of the ring, Niko has given the Bulls an ultimatum – “Him or me.” Bulls fans around the world I’m sure are up at night worrying about this predicament, distraught about how the season can progress without either Bobby or Niko.
I’ll confess that assessing the who, what, when and where of the fight has been a lot more interesting than watching any of the games so far. So stay tuned for the next episode of Days of our Bulls’ Lives.
THREE: Introducing Robin Lopez
Robin Lopez has emerged as a leader and face of the Bulls as of late. This is quite an evolution since last June, when Fredberg said he was “looking forward to coaching Brook Lopez.” Ummm, Fred – Brook is Robin’s twin brother. The Bulls acquired Robin. Robin Lopez, aka Robez or RoLo.
Robez is a center, and a Thibs throwback. He does his job. There’s not tons of flair, but he’s consistent, does the dirty work, plays great defense, and makes baskets in the paint. And he’s totally wacky. Most well-known for getting into altercations with mascots from around the NBA, he’s most recently become a Bulls front man.
And he’s now introduced in the MJ/DRose/JB spot during player introductions – last. And most importantly, I believe Robez has already made his second appearance one of the sports world’s finest programs – Late Night Snack with Henry: Robin Lopez and Zach LaVine.
FOUR: The team and lineups are a moving target
So, I dare you to name more than five players currently on the Bulls. I already gave you Markkanen, Portis, Mirotic, Lopez and LaVine in the course of this award-winning, informative blog.
If you said Quincy Pondexter, David Nwaba, Jerian Grant, Justin Holiday or Paul Zipser, you’d be right. And there’s about eight more, whose names escape me.
Cinjo, the Norwegian Ninja has a greater chance of making it onto the team, and playing until the end of the season than some of the guys currently on the roster. In case you need a little refresher – Chicago Bulls Roster.
FIVE: This isn’t going to be a season of rainbows and butterflies
I’ll ‘fess up – I haven’t watched an entire game yet this season, and I’m wondering if anyone else really has either. The first few games, and especially that Cavs game – they played hard.
But evidently, during last night’s fiasco with OKC, when the Bulls were “Westbrooked,” they lost by 30 or 40 points, and did anything but play hard.
And even the mild-mannered Fredberg was none too pleased.
As reported by KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Hoiberg had this to say after huge loss.
“We took a huge step in the wrong direction. We didn’t compete. We didn’t stay together. We didn’t fight through adversity as a team. We were careless. We were stagnant. They got to loose balls. That can’t happen with this group.”
“It’s very disappointing coming off the encouraging win against Atlanta by doing all the little things — winning the 50-50 balls, dominating the glass. We had none of that. Things weren’t going well and we just dropped our heads and gave in. You can’t do that as a young team.”
Players said Hoiberg gave them an earful at halftime.
Well, well, well – I like that sound of that. A little more Thibs-like and a little less Fred-like. After all, I never really was all that into rainbows or butterflies.
Beat the Heat!