What the Chicago Bulls should do with the Nikola Vucevic situationAnish Puligillaon April 7, 2022 at 3:16 pm

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(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bulls have problems. We’ve all seen the numbers since the all-star break and the record against the top teams in each conference. Besides a couple much needed and key wins against Cleveland, Toronto, and LA, the Bulls have looked like a 20 win team for the better part of a month after playing like a 50 win team for the first half of this season.

Now headed for a likely first-round exit, much of the attention has turned to diagnose the issues with the Bulls, how to fix them, and who deserves the most blame. Some point the finger at bench players like Coby White. Others, more optimistic, think missing Lonzo is all that’s wrong. Some think it’s Billy Donovan who has to go. However, no segment of Bulls fans is larger than the ones pining for Nikola Vucevic to be traded.

This brings us to Nikola Vucevic. Since 2018 (when he made his first all-star game) and until his trade to Chicago, Nikola Vucevic averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds on 49 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent from three. Even post all-star break in Chicago, Nikola Vucevic was averaging 21 pts, 11 rebounds, and 39 percent from 3 – a clear upgrade over Wendell Carter Jr who Bulls fans, myself included, had long given up developing into a premier center in the NBA.

Now, a year later, as the third option on this Bulls team, he’s still averaging 18 and 11 in by far the worst shooting season of his career. Part of this could be adjusting to the lower usage rate on a new team or simply just natural variation in players’ shot percentages throughout their career. Just because he’s having one bad season at age 31 doesn’t mean he’s washed.

Newly put-together teams rarely figure it out in year one. In response to that, one would probably say it isn’t the fact that the Bulls are losing that’s the problem, it’s how bad they’re losing. This is totally understandable, but pinning all the blame on Nikola Vucevic is completely unwarranted.

Pinning a majority of the Chicago Bulls struggles on Nikola Vucevic is ignoring the greater issues surrounding this team

With the frustration against Vucevic mounting, and also extending to his defense, I went back to watch his latest game against the Boston Celtics. In this article, I break down what I saw on film, whether or not the Magic won the trade, and whether it makes sense to trade Vucevic one year into the creation of this team.

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