The conventional wisdom is the Bulls roster is a bit of a Chopped basket. Sure, there’s plenty of talent — Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams — but it doesn’t really fit well together and certainly will struggle defensively.
Mike D’Antoni has said that talented players figure out how to work the fit out, and that’s essentially what DeMar DeRozan said about the fit of the Bulls’ roster at his introductory press conference. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:
“I mean, it’s basketball. Lot of people I see criticizing, talking about ‘fit this, fit that’ have probably never even played basketball,” DeRozan said. “For me, if everybody (is) on the same page mentality and wants to win, it don’t matter about a ‘fit,’ because it’s all gonna come together how it need to come together and make it work. Because at the end of the day the common denominator is winning.
“If you have that mentality going into it, everything will figure out how it need to be figured out in the process. That’s where chemistry is built. I never really get caught up in all this stuff about, ‘Oh, this fit, this, this, this.’ End of the day, you bring that mentality of winning and everything gonna come together how it need to come together.”
For the Bulls, that’s exactly what you’d want your new, overpaid star to say.
Count me with the skeptics. The offense should be good, with Ball pushing the team in transition and DeRozan and LaVine running the halfcourt. The one big question on that end is how LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic will handle having to work off the ball a lot more. If LaVine gets his number called for a halfcourt set, it puts DeRozan in a position he’s not used to. That said, DeRozan isn’t wrong here, the stars can work it out.
The real problem is the defensive end — the Bulls are going to score a lot of points, but they are going to give up a lot of points. Ball is a good perimeter defender, but he’s the only one and there is no rim protection of note. In an improved East — Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Boston, and teams that should take steps forward in Washington and Indiana — can the Bulls shoot their way to enough wins to avoid the play-in games? If Chicago makes the playoffs, can they win a series with that defense?
Chicago is improved, but the fit questions are legit. So are the ceiling questions. Chicago is going to have to adopt DeRozan’s mentality and prove its critics wrong.