It was the best of teams, it was the worst of teams, it was beating the Cavaliers one night, it was losing to the Mavericks by 25 points the next night, it was a team that averages the 8th most first quarter points in the league (27.2), it was a team that averages the least amount of fourth quarter points in the league (22.7), it was a group highlighted by their rising superstar to pull them out of the gutter, it is a group lowlighted by their underperforming bench dragging them back into the gutter, it is a front office that thinks the Bulls can still win today, it is a front office that thinks the Bulls shouldn’t tank in 2016 and build for their future, but rather settle for mediocrity, it really is the best of times and the worst of times.
There have been flashes of potential with these Bulls, including a game versus the Clippers where Dwyane Wade dropped five three-pointers. Jimmy Butler has been performing like a starting all-star on most nights. Even last night, the normally struggling, Niko Mirotic, scored 20 points while making over 50% of his shots. This team has hope. One of the main lessons I learned from Star Wars: Rogue One is that rebellions are built on hope. And if this team has enough hope and potential, they will be able to rebel against the NBA and make noise for the rest of the season.
However, my concern, like most other fans, is that the hope is not always there. When you lose back-to-back nights against the Bucks without playing with any heart, I feel there is no hope. When the team puts their faith in Butler, who has been averaging 37.5 minutes per game, and no one else can give him a break, then I feel that the team has lost its will. When the team gets off to a fast start and then collapses late in the game, like when they blew a 21-point lead versus Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves, then I see little potential. I wonder why the team has left their heart at the door when they get embarrassed like this.
This team does not baffle me anymore when they lose badly after going on a winning streak. I have accepted the fact that they do not have an identity. As a fan of this team, I would like to know if, simply, this is a squad of losers or winners. So far, this year, they have not proven to be either which is dangerous. If they were the squad of winners as they were in 2011 and 2012, we would have more to cheer for. If they were the squad of losers, we would have more to cheer for in the next few years as they build for their future. Right now, they are a squad of nothing: an identity-less franchise currently run by a front office on how they will sell more tickets instead of winning more ball games.
2016 really is a tale of two very different franchises. While we are on the topic of Charles Dickens, I hope this team can be visited by the Ghost of the Bulls Past and have some sort of epiphany leading into a winning season.