Chicago at Sacramento
Time: 9 PM CST (NBA TV)
Spread: SAC -5
odds c/o 5dimes
The Chicago Bulls are 6-14 and enter Monday night’s showdown against the Sacramento Kings as losers of its last three, and it will be 5-point underdogs in Sacramento in the second half of an NBA TV doubleheader. The over/under is set at 210 points according to 5dimes, and the game will tip-off at 9 PM Central.
Chicago is firmly in a rebuild, but perhaps the most concerning aspect thus far should be that its talents fail to firmly fit together. The chemistry is off, and Zach LaVine is thriving, but it has come really without necessarily making his teammates much better. Lauri Markakken has failed to make much progress in his third NBA season, and the Bulls are still searching for a starting point guard until Coby White is ready to fully assume that role. White hails from the University of North Carolina and is already a very talented scorer, but Chicago has yet to integrate its rotation fully, and it is unclear exactly what the roles are— particularly those of its backcourt players.
The Bulls have started Tomas Satoransky at the 1-spot, and he has faired well, but arguably the two talents behind him in the rotation do–or at least were supposed to–represent what the Bulls want at point guard. Kris Dunn has not really made any major progression since leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves (Coming with LaVine), and while White has been promising, he is not necessarily just being handed the reigns yet. White moonlights as a shooting guard and is fine there, as well, but LaVine’s handle on the minutes is making it tough for him to get the backup time at the 2. Otto Porter Jr. has missed the majority of the season and is the best swingman Chicago has been able to acquire since it had Luol Deng. But Markakken’s stagnation is something of a source of frustration for the 6-14 Bulls.
Wendell Carter Jr is improving in his sophomore NBA campaign, and he could become a big-time center in the Association. Carter is averaging 12.7 points and nearly 10 byards per game while putting tip a PER of 17.94, which is actually the best on Chicago’s roster. Really, this is a team that will need to change its personnel and begin to develop the combinations of players that function far better, particularly on the defensive end where superstar Zach LaVine is hardly anything of a leader. Chicago has some work to do before becoming much of a threat, even to mediocre opponents like the Kings tonight, as Chicago finds itself 5-point dogs against a non-playoff team in its own right in Sacramento.
The Sacramento Kings are just 8-10 on the season, but the team has dealt with some injuries, and as usual, plenty of underachievement. Sacramento is again probably going to miss the postseason, which has been the case for the past decade-plus for a team that never manages to achieve the potential it seems to have on paper.
Credit injuries to its starting point guard DeAaron Fox and starting center Marvin Bagley for a lot of this failure. Fox has played in just half the games, and Bagley has missed all but one. That duo really is supposed to represent the cornerstone talents, along with Buddy Field, and Sacto cannot manage to get all even on the court together this season. Hield has certainly thrived and is a borderline emerging star at shooting guard, though probably still a tier away from being an All-Star, particularly since he starts on a sub-.500 team. Richaun Holmes has looked nice after not showing a ton his first five NBA seasons, but he is really seeing time mostly because Bagley is out. As to whether the Kings can manage to keep Holmes in the rotation when its key cog returns, remain to be seen.
Harrison Barnes is having a solid season as a King, and Bodgan Bogdanovic is a solid shooter, but the Kings are lacking the transcendental talents that would make Fox really succeed as the team’s leader in the backcourt. Fox averages seven assists per game, and one can only sense that figure as deflated on a team that is managing to muster just 44 percent shooting.
The Kings are attempting 34.8 threes per game and knocking down a solid 35.6 percent, but the scoring issues persist on a team managing just 104.2 points per game. The Kings need health first, but even a healthy roster this year still sees the Kings strike out on a postseason appearance once again.