Nikola Vucevic‘s 30-point outburst against the Hornets this week may be an indication that he’s settling into his new role with the Bulls, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. After years of being the first option in Orlando, Vucevic had to adjust to playing with a prolific scorer in Zach LaVine after he was traded at the March deadline. The adjustments continued after Chicago added DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in free agency.
Vucevic’s usage rate has hovered at about 22% since the season began. That’s down from 28.2% during his time with the Bulls last season and significantly lower than what it used to be with the Magic. He acknowledged that he’s still figuring out his new role on offense.
“I was the main guy in Orlando for years and the ball was always with me. I knew I was going to get my shots regardless of how the game was going. Now it’s a little different,” Vucevic said. “We have more talent and more guys on the ball. Just have to find my spots and make sure I don’t get in their way and also for them to get used to playing with a big man like me.”
There’s more from Chicago:
- DeRozan has taken over the role of closing out games since joining the Bulls, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. He’s leading the NBA with an average of 7.5 points in the fourth quarter of games and scoring clutch baskets when the team needs them most. “It just makes everything so much easier,” LaVine said. “Not all the pressure is on you. I have a bailout anytime, and I think I can speak for him; vice versa. Just being able to give it to him in certain areas, or just the ultimate trust of sometimes just giving him the ball and getting out the way, and ‘I’ll be here if you need me.’”
- Alex Caruso‘s gritty style of play feels much more at home in Chicago than it did in Los Angeles, observes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Caruso has transformed the Bulls’ defense and leads the league in both steals and deflections per game. “The stuff that I do isn’t always glamorous,” he said. “It doesn’t always get highlighted. You might have seen a dunk or two over the years, like a pass to LeBron (James) or (Anthony Davis), but the stuff I do isn’t sexy. It’s stuff that wins basketball games.”
- Bulls general manager Marc Eversley has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Neil Olshey with the Trail Blazers, but he remains focused on his current team and the talk is likely just speculation, Cowley tweets.