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Bulls coach Jim Boylen thinks Lauri Markkanen has had ‘as good a 30 days’ as any player he’s coached

Lauri Markkanen

If Jim Boylen says things are looking up, they must be going very, very well for the Chicago Bulls.

The notoriously gruff coach told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday that he’s feeling optimistic heading into the All-Star break, not just due to his team’s recent play overall, but because of a stretch from Lauri Markkanen that ranks among the most impressive of which he’s been a part.

“I’m hopeful. I’m excited,” Boylen said before the Bulls’ game against the Memphis Grizzlies. “I like how we’ve improved and the additions we’ve made. We’re playing competitive. We’re starting to get a feel for each other. I think Lauri has had as good a 30 days as a guy I’ve ever coached.”

Hope stemming from Chicago’s team-wide performance isn’t much supported by the numbers.

The Bulls are 3-13 over the last month of play, with a -7.1 net rating – fifth-worst in the league over that timeframe.

Perhaps Boylen’s sense of success was changed following his tumultuous first six weeks with Chicago? The Bulls, after all, haven’t been on the brink of mutiny since December, and had a net rating of -10.1 from the time Boylen replaced Fred Hoiberg to mid January.

Baby steps!

Markkanen, meanwhile, is averaging 20.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game over the last 30 days, shooting 44.2 percent overall and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc, good for a solid true shooting percentage of 57.6.

Those are solid numbers, certainly, but hardly the type that inspire hyperbole like “as good a 30 days as a guy I’ve ever coached.”

But if this is an example of Boylen embracing his player-friendly side, we’re all for such hollow talk regardless.