The Chicago Bulls are in the midst of a brutal losing streak right now. This team has lost five out of its last six games heading into Friday night’s matchup against the Orlando Magic. This has led to some heavy criticism for a team that has title aspirations this season, which now also includes some brutally honest words from head coach Billy Donovan.
The Bulls coach took aim at his three best players as he called out Chicago’s Big 3 for their lackluster display to start the season. In his mind, Donovan believes that the Bulls are going to continue to struggle up until DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic all step up to the plate:
“I’ve got like a lot of respect on a lot of levels for (Nikola Vucevic) and (DeMar DeRozan) and (Zach LaVine) of who they are as players,” Donovan said, via Will Gottlieb of CHGO. “We’re never going to be as good as we can be as a team, you know until, in my opinion, those three guys really drive the opening part of the game.”
Donovan also noted that it would be more convenient to pin the blame on the younger players of the squad. However, he’s not willing to do so because he knows exactly what his starts are capable of:
“It’s very, very easy to look at maybe Ayo being a young player, Patrick not being aggressive enough, ‘Hey, we’re going to throw a guy in there.’ Those three guys are important to our team and if we’re working around them so to speak, like you’re talking about, I don’t think we’re going to get to where we need to go to,” Donovan continued. “And I don’t mind saying this because I don’t look at it as pressure on them. It’s just what we’ve got to do as a basketball team. That’s the expectation, that’s the standard.”
As Donovan said, he doesn’t think his demands are going to rub his stars the wrong way. DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic are all veterans, and they are all All-Star-caliber players. We all know how good these guys can be, and I’m sure that — at least to some extent — they would admit that they just haven’t been playing up to par of late.
“They’re our leaders of our team,” Donovan said. “They’re guys that are veteran guys that have been in the league for a long time. They’ve got to basically drive, in my opinion, whatever it is. Defense, offense, everything.
“For us to be the team we need to be, the starting point, those three guys need to raise it up. And I think they can.”
The good news for the Bulls is that it’s still very early in the season. There’s still a lot of time to turn things around. However, as coach Donovan said, it will all start with the Big 3.