1 pleasant surprise for the Bulls at the start of the 2022-23 NBA season

By | November 15, 2022

The Chicago Bulls’ 2022-23 season is just not going as deliberate. The group is simply 6-8 and can be kicked out of the Jap Convention Play-In event if the season ended right this moment.

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine lead the Bulls with 23.9 and 21.9 factors per recreation, respectively. If Chicago needs to compete for a title, it should lean closely on the duo. Additionally, second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu appears to be like like an essential piece for the way forward for the franchise, whereas veterans comparable to Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond offers assist off the bench.

Whereas all of those gamers are positive to be essential in an eventual playoff run for the Bulls, there’s one former All-Star who has been a very vibrant spot for Chicago amid the group’s poor begin. That mentioned, here is a pleasing shock for the Bulls firstly of the 2022-23 NBA season.

Nikola Vucevic

In 2021-22, Nikola Vucevic averaged 17.6 factors, 11.0 rebounds and three.2 assists per recreation. Nevertheless, he was down from the 21.5 level common he had in his first season with the group after being traded by the Orlando Magic. Moreover, he made simply 31.4% of his 3-point photographs, his worst mark since 2016-17.

Due to this, Vucevic has been embroiled in commerce rumors for many of the previous yr. At 32, he could also be heading within the unsuitable course with the group. Incomes $22m within the ultimate yr of his contract, many thought coping with Vucevic can be the appropriate transfer.

However the first month of the 2022-23 NBA season guarantees to be a comeback for the Montenegrin. He has a mean of 16.0 factors, 11.5 boards and a pair of.9 pennies. Though most of those numbers are worse than final season, Vucevic is a more practical spacing huge man. He makes 39.3% of his 3-point photographs, which might be his greatest as a Bull and the second-best of his profession.

Part of Vucevic’s contributions don’t seem within the stat sheet. Since he decreases his photographs subsequent to the basket and strikes away from the sting, his teammates are in a position to penetrate and assault the basket. It additionally clears the way in which for DeRozan to fireside mid-range photographs, which is his greatest function.

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Whereas he stays farther from the basket than typical, Vucevic nonetheless grabs 2.6 offensive rebounds per recreation. As a consequence of his measurement, the Bulls get a number of second-chance alternatives. Final yr, Chicago was twenty ninth within the league with simply 8.7 offensive rebounds per night time, with Vucevic averaging simply 1.9. Now that quantity has risen to 10.2. His greatest efficiency got here in opposition to the Boston Celtics, the place he grabbed 23 boards together with 10 on the offensive glass.

That is additionally as a result of addition of André Drummond on the bench. He’s averaging 3.3 offensive boards, the perfect group per recreation. However when the previous Detroit Pistons huge man was out for 5 straight video games, Vucevic turned the one huge man within the rotation. He is had no less than 12 rebounds in eight of the 14 video games he is performed thus far, together with a 19-rebound recreation in opposition to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Vucevic might not be enjoying like an All-Star like he did in his ultimate years with the Magic, however he is doing what the Bulls want him to do. Since LaVine-DeRozan is the middle of the group, the massive man is a low-key however essential third possibility for Chicago.