Courtesy of Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Bulls ended their season opposite of what they had hoped when the season began.T
They finished 40-42, owning the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference. They won one play-in game against the Toronto Raptors, yet lost the proceeding to the Miami Heat, who are close to entering the Eastern Conference Finals.
Patrick Beverley thinks the Bulls would have been a higher seed and gone could have advanced further in the playoffs had he joined the team earlier.
“Honestly, I think if I’m there from the beginning of the year we’re a fourth or fifth seed,” Beverley said on his podcast.
The Bulls added Beverley to their team from the buyout market just after the NBA trade deadline. They signed him on for less than $1 million for the remainder of the season. And he made an irrefutable impact.
He took over the starting point guard position immediately, starting 22 games for the remainder of the regular season. He averaged 5.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists. And while his offensive numbers aren’t eye-popping, his defense is his marquee attribute.
The Bulls became a top-five defense in the league upon Beverley’s arrival. Over the post-All-Star segment, the Bulls held the fifth-best defensive rating in the league. Before the All-Star break, the Bulls held the 24th-best defense.
Beverley helped the Bulls to a 14-9 record over the last stretch of the season. But it was too little, too late. They barely notched a play-in spot leading up to the end of the regular season. And, as aforementioned, they lost in the play-in tournament.
Would things have been different if they earned a spot in the playoffs, superseding the play-in? Would Beverley have helped the Bulls to a top seed in the Eastern Conference from the get-go
The Bulls can answer that last question. Beverley is a free agent and the Bulls could, in theory, re-sign him. Lonzo Ball will miss the majority of next season with an ongoing knee injury he received a third surgery from, placing the Bulls in dire need of a point guard.
But, Beverley’s asking price is high. With the Lakers, he cashed in the rest of a three-year deal he signed worth $13 million per year. And Beverley doesn’t foresee himself receiving a pay cut.
The Bulls, on the other hand, are exceptionally close to the tax threshold, leaving them little room to move or finagle money in Beverley’s way.