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The Chicago Bulls Arrive At A Familiar Crossroads

With the Chicago Bulls Draft Lottery dreams now a thing of the past, the road to improvement is as thin as ever. Equipped with no draft picks and still in serious need of a floor general, this Bulls offseason may bring them to the crossroads they hoped to avoid. Former Portland Trailblazer All-Star Brandon Roy and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge of The Athletic spoke to The Bigs' Joshua M. Hicks at Tuesday's Draft Lottery and offered insight into what happens in the NBA when things don't go as planned.

Words by Joshua M. Hicks

 

The Chicago Bulls got lucky with drafting hometown star Derrick Rose with a 1.7% chance in 2008. Unfortunately, 1.8% dried out this go around. With the Orlando Magic winning the 6th and 11th picks in this year’s draft, the Bulls add another loss to the Nikola Vucevic trade and now enter this offseason without a draft pick for this year’s draft.


“[The draft picks] gives us the opportunity to look at different players and see the pieces of the puzzle we can add to our team,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said.


No picks for “The Crib” means the Bulls may be forced to consider options that were off the table before their Draft Lottery dreams went up in flames, and leaves gloomy one question: who is the point guard for next season?


Losing out on their top 4 pick provides zero chance for the franchise to address any of their concerns in the draft, knowing that the likes of Scoot Henderson will not be available for the team to lead the reigns with Lonzo Ball’s uncertain medical situation.


The Athletic’s David Aldridge, who spoke with The Bigs in Chicago at Tuesday’s Draft Lottery, understands the unfortunate circumstances that come with the game of basketball such as injuries and how teams respond when things don’t go as planned.


“There’s nothing you can do if a player gets hurt,” Aldridge said. “It’s the game and it’s part of the league. Portland thought Greg Oden was going to be great and he was until he got hurt. There is nothing you can do about that, but I don’t think you can go into another year kind of waiting or hoping for Lonzo [to come back].”


After going through a third medical procedure that added cartilage into his left knee, we clearly shouldn’t expect Lonzo to walk through the doors of the Madhouse on Madison anytime soon.


Injuries like Ball’s normally don’t equate to longevity in a professional basketball career, let alone any return to basketball within itself. But should Bulls Nation expect that same fate? Former Portland Trailblazer star Brandon Roy, who was also in Chicago for the Draft Lottery and spoke to The Bigs, is not too hasty to agree, yet reminds the fan base to still be realistic.


“[Ball] has to be realistic with himself and what he’s going to be able to do,” Roy said. “It might not be at the level of an All-Star point guard but there are some things he can adjust to his game and he can still help a team.”


As a former All-Star himself, Roy dealt with similar knee injuries that shortened his NBA career. He admitted that he could still play in the league at that time and teams offered him roster spots, but he turned down offers because he knew he wouldn’t be comfortable not playing at an All-Star level.


Roy does not want Ball to have to go through that process. He believes Ball should continue to play as long as he can, even if the old Lonzo Ball does not come back.


“It’s okay to not be 110% Lonzo Ball. It’s ok to be one day 80%, then one day 70% and then one day 60%, because you are young and you should do it as long as you possibly can,” Roy told The Bigs.


With the expectation that he is not going to come back 100% himself, his game will have to do some adjusting. He may not be as athletic as he was before, but he can still be a solid defender, improved shooter and thriving floor general. He can think ahead with his IQ to help put him in better positions and develop the “floater” shot to add in his tool belt.


One player that Roy suggests Ball watches film on is former NBA point guard and current G-League Grand Rapids Gold head coach Andre Miller.


“Miller played for years and he picked very few spots to jump or really be aggressive on defense, but he was a coach on the floor,” Roy said. “Dre would coach the defense and tell you where to be on offense. He should start putting his attention and efforts into things that are going to maximize his mind and not his body.”


Roy supports Ball’s journey back to the court. If he could do it all over again, he would tell himself to be patient with the process and fight your way back to some teams to help them win. He is now suggesting that same advice to Ball.


“As hard as it may seem, continue to try to be patient and don’t feel rushed,” Roy said. “[Ball] is a young kid and he has a lifetime ahead to think about what he wants to do next or move on. Be selfish and try to get yourself back to playing basketball.”


While Ball is taking his time rehabbing back to health, Aldridge does not let the Bulls off the hook. As devastating as the situation appears, the Bulls still need a point guard, and there is no guarantee they can solve that problem.


“You have to get the point guard situation straightened out, and [the Bulls] may not be able to get the point guard straightened out,” Aldridge said.




 

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