The Chicago Bulls are typically synonymous with dynasty, but in the 2022-23 season, they have slipped into an age of mediocrity, nearly a death sentence in today’s league. Teams without legitimate contending hopes typically need a restart, tearing down their middling team led by DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine to find success in the lottery, and ultimately better position themselves for the future.

The Bulls find themselves sitting in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with a 9-12 record, including a 5-5 record at home, an unsatisfactory home record usually indicative of a poor team. Meanwhile, point guard Lonzo Ball, a key component of the squad’s three-point shooting and on-ball defense, looks to be even further away from a return to the court. Here are our grades for the Chicago Bulls at the quarter mark of the NBA season.

DeMar DeRozan

One of the lone bright spots of the Bulls’ lackluster start, DeRozan has shown no signs of slowing down despite reaching 33 years of age. A second-team All-NBAer last season, the former Trojan has continued to play at an elite level, averaging 26.3 points on 52% shooting, the second-best mark of his career. All his counting numbers, points, rebounds and assists, are down from his phenomenal last season, but his minutes and shot attempts are also down — this simply cannot be the case for the Bulls. Amidst a struggling season, head coach Billy Donovan has to find a way to get his best player more shots.

DeRozan will not be in any MVP conversations as he was last season after he hit two ridiculous back to back game-winners. However, he has continued to develop his game, further establishing a post presence and reaching new heights with his jaw-dropping footwork. He has even been a tone-setter defensively on a team that lacks rim protection and elite defenders outside of Caruso.

DeRozan has come to play to start this season. He surely is not to blame for the Bulls’ messy start to this season.

Grade: B+

Zach LaVine

Something is not right with Zach LaVine. It’s not surprise that he has not been the same player since having arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason, but his level of play has seen a dramatic drop, averaging 20.9 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.2 rebounds on an inefficient 41/35/83 shooting splits. That is not even close to the All-Star caliber level the Bulls need LaVine to play at.

It’s clear that returning to form after a serious injury takes time, but LaVine seems to have lost the valuable traits that earned him a major contract. He has lost a bit of that explosiveness, and looks unwilling to challenge defenders and take contact at the rim. He might have a case of the yips after an injury-torn career, but his unwillingness to drive to the rim has turned him into an inefficient shot chucker, bogging down the offense as he tries to regain a rhythm by taking tough jump shots.

When those tough long twos and three point looks are not falling, it allows teams to push the basketball off rebounds and spark opposing runs. Simply put, his decision making has to be a whole lot better if this Bulls team is going to even scrape the play-in tournament – and also get a higher grade.

Grade: D+

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Billy Donovan

Much of LaVine’s struggles can be attributed to Donovan. At a certain point, when a star player is struggling while forcing up tough shots, a coach has to step in and simplify the playbook. Donovan needs to call out more sets to get LaVine more catch-and-shoot opportunities, rather than running him off pick-and-rolls. The Bulls rank 22nd in defensive rating — much of their offense is often freelance, DeRozan or LaVine taking turns trying to find their spots to get shots up.

To be fair to Donovan, the lack of a true point guard on the floor — not a single Bull averages more than five assists per game. Their leading passer, DeRozan, is more focused on taking on the scoring load, a role he has been accustomed to since his days in Toronto, when Kyle Lowry would focus on getting his teammates involved. Goran Dragic has been serviceable but can’t stay on the floor for more than twenty minutes a night, while Coby White still has not developed that court vision a point guard requires.

Donovan has to do a better job of developing young guys like White and Patrick Williams, who has not looked like he has taken much of a step forward since last season. The Bulls recently locked in Donovan with a four-year extension — he will be the coach of the future for this team. Despite his coaching pedigree, Donovan still has an array of question marks to answer to prove he can actually aid this team from the sideline.

Grade: C