Last night, the Chicago Bulls were ugly. Disgustingly, horribly ugly. The kind of ugly you need a video game designer, someone with a specialty in post-apocalyptic monsters, to create. On national television, the Bulls were embarrassed in every way a professional basketball team can be embarrassed -- outcoached, outplayed, out-hustled, out-thought.
In a loss that bad, coaching rarely comes into it. What decisions can you make when your team is down by 30 that really affect their chances of winning? But still, somehow, Vinny Del Negro managed to make two horrible coaching decisions. From Blog a Bull:
Didn't count. You see...Vinny started Aaron Gray and Larry Hughes. Aaron Gray. And Larry Hughes. Hughes at SF! Gray at a basketball position! In a regular season NBA game! [...] Then the Blazers clowned a team starting Aaron Gray and Larry Hughes. Expected. The Bulls couldn't quite match up, because they had Aaron Gray and Larry Hughes in their lineup.
Speaking of analysis, wasn't it cute how we tried to discuss how the Bulls would match up with the Blazers today? Now it's not really fair, we were operating under the premise that the Bulls would treat it like a real game. Where the record counts and everything. Nah, they started Aaron Gray and Larry Hughes. Wish I would've known that ahead of time.
Aaron Gray and Larry Hughes. Starters. For someone paid to watch his basketball team, and then allocate playing time accordingly, it's almost like Del Negro isn't even paying attention. Or doesn't know what he's doing. One of the two.
In the meantime, the Bulls probably would have gotten killed anyway, and here's why: The Blazers are the successful West Coast version of the Bulls. After a few bad years, the Blazers drafted well, traded well, signed smart agents, and then drafted well again. They're now so talented and young that even if their recent No. 1 pick Greg Oden has a career full of injuries (and for the big man's sake, let's hope he doesn't), the Blazers will be just fine, organizationally, without him.
Now look at the Bulls. For almost 10 years now the Bulls have had a chance to do what the Blazers have done -- stockpile young talent, make a trade or two here and there, and build out a deep lineup of young players entering their prime. What have the Bulls done? Drafted college veterans with minimal pro upside, signed 32-year-old Ben Wallace to a contract he would never play out, traded him for Larry Hughes, and -- by sheer luck -- fallen face first into a No. 1 overall pick in Derrek Rose. And instead of supplementing their team, or pushing them over the top, as with the Blazers and Oden, Rose is basically the only reason to watch the Bulls play basketball anymore. He's the only hope.
Why? Portland's Kevin Pritchard is a very good general manager. The longer he's in the job, the less we can say the same for John Paxson.