I was recently having a basketball conversation with my mom, and as she was referring to her favorite basketball team who had just defeated my favorite team she said something that inspired me.
"I always pray for us to suck less."
Changed my whole perspective on winning and losing. Well, not really. But it definitely gave me inspiration for our new series I'll be doing periodically called "Who Sucks Less?"
So congrats Bulls and Hawks, y'all up first.
The Chicago Bulls have been a train wreck since Jimmy Butler left. But not like a huge train wreck where people die. More like a train that's brakes gave out, so it's just like coming to a very loud screeching stop. But since the brakes don't really work, it's taking like 3 hours for the train to actually stop.
They seem like they're somewhere between coming to a full stop, and slowing down, but also maybe moving forward. I don't really know, and I don't think they do either.
This season they have been blessed with health. All of their young guys and players they acquired in the Butler trade have been able to play. Their head coach Jim Boylen just got a new contract, so the team is operating completely under his style now.
But let me make things clear on how I feel about Jim Boylen, he sucks. He has the tenacity and passion of Bob Knight, without any of the coaching skills to back it up.
Their five-man lineup of Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, Zach Lavine, Otto Porter, and Tomas Satoransky has played over 132 minutes on the floor together, while no other lineup has played more than 64 minutes together.
A lineup of their five best players in Coby White, Lavine, Porter, Markkanen, and Carter Jr. has yet to play the floor together. Not even for one second. How is this possible?
Much of it is due to the use of Coby White. According to Basketball Reference, he has played 2% as a point guard, 49% at shooting guard, 48% at small forward, and 1% at power forward. Coby White should never play in the forward position, for any reason. Even in the smallest possible lineup, he would still be the third smallest guy on their team.
Boylen openly preaches about defense and hustle, and one bright spot for the Bulls has been their ability to force turnovers. They are first in the league total steals, which has led them to 8th in the NBA for points scored in Transition with 20.8 per game.
Their offense in the half court, however, has been bottom ten thus far. They are 22nd in points per game and 29th in field goal percentage.
So with all these discouraging numbers, the question is how do they fix themselves?
They have a decent roster offensively, and they've been able to get those guys to play very well on the defensive end. The coaching staff needs to utilize the players to their maximum potential by getting them into positions where they can thrive.
Coby White needs to play more point guard, and should never be playing any forward position. Otto Porter needs to be used, just in general. Markkanen is great at stretching the floor, so let him stretch it. Thaddeus Young should be playing big minutes in the fourth quarter for that veteran presence.
There's a million different things they can do to improve, but with Boylen on the sidelines not much will change.
Let's shift our attention to the Atlanta Hawks, who are sitting at 4-13. The Hawks had some expectations this year to at least be better than last season, and so far that has not been the case. They are getting mopped off the floor as of late, and it doesn't seem like things are going to change.
After an encouraging 3-3 start, they have dropped ten of their last eleven games. Much of it had to do with Trae Young experiencing a setback with setback with a minor injury, and John Collins getting suspended. Kevin Huerter also just suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him out a few weeks.
So besides those first five games, they haven't had their three best players all on the court at the same time.
New head coach Lloyd Pierce has done the best he can with what he has. The players seem to like playing for him because he gives them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.
But those mistakes are starting to pile up. They are giving up the fourth most points off of turnovers in the NBA with 20.1 points per game. While also committing the second most turnovers with 17.7 per game. A recipe for disaster.
And while Trae Young is making a big leap this season, it's been the other young guys who haven't been able to keep up.
Rookies Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter are still learning as they go, but just haven't been what the Hawks have needed. They are averaging combined 19.9 points per game between the two of them, and have been getting torched on the defensive end of the floor.
Jabari Parker has been healthy and has shown flashes of good and bad. He has been extremely efficient with his shooting at 51%, but has shot just 27% from three point range. He is committing 3.5 fouls per game, which has kept his minutes down.
Evan Turner and De'Andre Bembry have been decent additions, but haven't moved the needle for them. Their starting big man is Alex Len, who has been more recently outplayed by their backup center in Damian Jones.
There's much room for improvement for this team, but the mix of injuries and youth may give this team a very low ceiling for this season.
It looks like they may be digging themselves a hole too big to get out of by the time they get John Collins back.
So let's answer the question Who Sucks Less?
The Bulls have the talent to fight for the 8 seed, but their coaching staff may just hold them back from everything they're capable of. And the Hawks are too depleted and young to even give themselves a chance.
So at this moment in time, the Bulls suck less. If only for the fact that their roster shows more potential to be better. And they may just form a mutiny again against Boylen that may actually get him canned.
So congratulations Bulls, You Suck Less!