The Chicago Bulls have won 14 games so far this season, which is far more than anyone projected them to have through 40 games. Considering their preseason win total was 21.5, it’s safe to say they are overachieving in the first year of their rebuild.
The problem for the Bulls is that they don’t really want to overachieve. This is a team that was built to get a top pick and try to land a superstar in the upcoming draft. Right now, they would hold the seventh spot in the draft lottery, which doesn’t offer them much hope for one of those top three choices.
As is always important to remember, players don’t want to tank and don’t actively participate in it. They play hard and try to win, because that’s what professional athletes do. Coaches, for the most part, try to win as well. Tanking is an effort from the front office to build a team bad enough to lose a ton, but with enough flexibility for the future and maybe some young guys that can be pieces of that future core. So, the way to fix an overachieving team is to sell off pieces.
We will see this from a number of teams at the trade deadline, as the bottom-dwellers of the NBA jockey for ping-pong balls by trading away veterans and the like for little immediate return. In Chicago, the return of Nikola Mirotic sparked a lengthy winning streak and while that’s been an interesting story to watch, he still apparently wants out and the feeling is apparently mutual.