Drop Steps

Bulls Hitched Their Wagon To The Wrong Star

Creator:Thearon W. Hendedon; Copyright:2015 Getty Images

By Lamar Battle

By appointing guard Zach Levine as team leader over forward Lauri Markkanen, the Chicago Bulls may have set the team back and slowed the development of other players on the team.

Zack Levine is a fine NBA player who may one day even make an All Star team.  Zach averages a respectable 22.8-ppg, 45.1-FG%, 35.1-3pt %.  The Bulls matched an offer of 78-million dollars from the Sacramento Kings to keep Zach Levine in a Bulls uniform.

Lauri Markkanen is a second year player selected with the 7th pick of the 2017-18 NBA Draft.  Lauri averages 17 ppg, 43.8 fg %, 37.9-3pt %.

So how did the Bulls make Zach the star, leader and voice of the team ?   After changing coaches and promoting former assistant Jim Boylen the players lead by Levine and chafing at the new coaches practice regimen staged a bit of a coup that lead to the formation of a Leadership Committee comprised of players.  Coach Boylen’s acquiescence and acceptance of the committees legitimacy more or less ended his authority in the eyes of the players.

What do you mean ended his authority ?  Well, when the coach preaches unselfish offensive approaches emphasizing ball movement but what fans witness night after night is a version of iso-ball predicated on players taking ill advised shots there is an obvious dis-connect.

No one benefits more in this environment than Zach Levine who leads the team in minutes, scoring, shots attempted and usage rate.  This piece is not intended to disparage Zach who is a supremely talented athlete but to point out the need for a new approach and star.

Lauri Markkanen:

Lauri who is in his second year had an injury in training camp that sidelined him for most of the early season but don’t be mistaken this All Rookie selection is the real deal and quite possibly a franchise player.  Lauri, a seven footer with legitimate three point range and ball handling skills.  To enhance his post up abilities Lauri came back from the summer with 16 to 17 pounds of added muscle.

Additional time may be required for Lauri to regain his form but the team will have to find a way to develop his prodigious potential and that will mean more than the coach constantly reminding his players that we should get Lauri more involved in the offense.

The Bulls have some talented players but as they say nature abhors a vacuum and with a void in leadership  players will generally step in and if those players don’t buy in to the outlined direction then chaos ensues..(note the 11 and 38 record, 2nd worse in the NBA, 27th in fg%, 29th in ppg )

In response to the teams record Zach Levine told the Chicago Sun times that he would evaluate how the rest of the season goes, then test how much power that new contract gives him.  ” You mean having a bit of say so?”  “I think I have a good relation-ship with the front office and coaching staff, but we will see how good this summer is.  I’m not worried about that right now but let this play out and those times will change once that time comes.

Should the Bulls have matched the 78 million offer sheet for Zach Levine ? Should they have fired former coach Fred Hoiberg, or hired him in the first place?  Speaking of coach Hoiberg,  he said that he was considering placing ( prodigal son ) Jabari Parker  in the starting line-up along side Markkanen and if by magic..poof..he was gone.

The problems on this team appear to go much deeper than personnel and coaching and if things don’t change expect more of the same.  Will Lauri Markkanen develop to his considerable potential in Chicago or somewhere else?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *