Will Bulls Be Worst Team in NBA History?

Let's take a look at this year's Chicago Bulls.

Bulls Will Fall Short of Eternal Ignominy

It seems highly unlikely that this year's Bulls will outrank the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers as the worst team of all time. The Sixers lost as many games in their horrible season as the Warriors won in their record-breaking one! The Bulls will likely win a few more than that.

So what do the Bulls have to offer their fans and basketball fans generally? By trading Jimmy Butler for a trio of question marks and dispensing with Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo after the playoff meltdown last summer, the Bulls are in full rebuilding mode.

Tear Down and Rebuild

Rebuilding is what so many professional teams have chosen to do over the past decade or so. It is often called tanking because the teams purposely field losing teams in the hope of improving via the draft and free agency. Rebuilding is a major gamble and unlike the great Vegas fun we have all experienced, rebuilding is fraught with many obvious risks.

The biggest risk is that the rebuild will not work and a new rebuild will be needed a few years hence. Some sad franchises, like the Cleveland Browns, seem to go into rebuild mode every three or four years when the latest miscalculation by management implodes. Does the name Johnny Manziel ring a bell?

A Few Major Successes

Many teams have done so successfully. In basketball, the Warriors did it and now are considered the top team in the league. There are a few franchises that seem to be able to maintain a high level of on the field performance even as they are revamping a big part of the team. The two teams that jump out on first thought are the New England Patriots and the San Antonio Spurs.

Coaching

The biggest factor in the rebuilding of a pro sports team and its continuing success after the rebuild is far more difficult to achieve than getting better players. This is the ability of the coaches and managers to develop the players that upper management has given them.
Would Joe Montana have become one of the best quarterbacks of all-time without an offense designed to take the fullest advantage of his talent and a coach who understood all that?

Dan Marino was considered too slow to play in the NFL, but Don Shula said that when Marino threw it was like an explosion. So Shula made sure that Marino never had to run out of the pocket and Marino picked everyone else's pockets for a decade. Do we need to go into what Bill Belichick has meant to Tom Brady?

Finally, no one knew that Kurt Warner was the league MVP until the starting quarterback was injured and Warner had to become the spearhead of The Greatest Show on Turf!

Big Market, Huge Challenge

So the challenge to the Bulls is how to mold a team of players recovering from injuries, players who have never been on the big stage, players who are big maybes, players who don't know how good they are if they are in fact good, players who don't know what it takes to become a team, and players who have to continue to play hard even when they are trailing by 20 for the 10th, 20th, or 30th time in a row.

If the team comes together, they can win 20 games. There are always just enough weak teams in the league to help the truly bad ones look good on any given night. Home teams have an incredible advantage in the NBA, far exceeding the home advantage in any other league. So the Bulls will win a few at home.

The optimistic view is that the team will lose games by far less in the second half of the season as it does in the first half. If that happens, it will be said that the Bulls had a successful season under the harsh circumstances. Basketball is the harshest sport when it comes to rebuilding a team. The best player touches the ball on every play, far unlike baseball, where the best player may not touch the ball at all in an entire game.

So if the Bulls' best player is far worse than the opponent's best player, the Bulls have functionally no chance to win that game. Good luck. This year's Bulls will not be remembered for anything, not even the distinction of being the worst of all-time.

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