Ranking the 7 most overrated Chicago Bulls of all time
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Chicago Bulls players have received a tremendous amount of love and support from the fan base. My previous effort “The 5 most underrated Bulls of all time” was a journalistic masterpiece that correctly identified the five most underappreciated Bulls players since the dawning of the Jordan era.
Highlighting these underappreciated players was a relatively easy exercise with minimal ramifications. Compiling this follow-up was less enjoyable because identifying overrated but beloved Bulls will likely incite digital harassment. My arguments are buttressed with facts and an accurate understanding of the status these players hold in the collective consciousness of Bulls Nation.
7. David Nwaba - 2017-18
Nwaba inspired a devoted following on Bulls Twitter. An athletic player hampered by a poor jumper and short wingspan, he struggled to disrupt passes and zip up his pants without bending over. He averaged 6.5 points for the Cavs in 2018-19, and 5.2 points for the Nets this season. It’s not difficult to replace that production. You can start in the G League or at a local Lifetime Fitness.
The decision to let him walk was met with outrage. I never gently sobbed about the decision to move on from 'Short Arms' Nwaba. Neither should you.
6. Assistant coach Ron Adams - 2003-08; 2010-13
Ron Adams is remembered for a pregame argument with Noah in 2008 that led to a Noah suspension. Then, after a two-year stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Adams returned to the Bulls in 2010 and was fired in 2013. Based on the outcry over his dismissal, one would assume that Adams was defending someone in games.
In his last year, the Bulls ranked eighth in defensive efficiency. After his departure, they moved up to second. If Ron was so essential to the defensive success of the team, how did the Bulls become appreciably better after his departure? Talent wins in the NBA, not assistant coaches.
5. Jud Buechler - 1994-98
The 'Bizarro Ryan Reynolds' barely played for three title-winning teams, yet he holds a mythical status of uber-productivity with fans. He would endear himself by sprinting everywhere, always maintaining an athletic stance, and occasionally hitting an open jumper. He spent summers playing beach volleyball, leaving one to wonder if serving the ball on his rare visits to the charity stripe would have improved his 63.3% lifetime free throw percentage.
By all accounts, he’s a great guy, which I am sure has contributed to his beloved status among fans. By my account, he’s a glorified Paul Zipser.
4. Kirk Hinrich - 2003-10; 2012-16
Hinrich’s 2006-07 regular season was outstanding, but his numbers cratered in the playoffs. From that point on, he suffered a significant decline. Overall, Hinrich had seven seasons with a sub-40 field goal percentage. By the summer of 2010, his performance declined to the point that our first draft pick (No. 17 overall), Kevin Seraphin, had to be included in a trade to the Wizards just to remove his bloated contract off the roster. His departure ushered in our two best seasons since the Jordan Dynasty.
Kirk was a great teammate and good player, but he’s clearly overrated by vast swaths of Bulls Nation.
3. General manager Jerry Krause - 1985-2002
During his tenure of almost two decades, Krause made two superb moves in acquiring Scottie Pippen and drafting Toni Kukoc. The Horace Grant pick occurred because of Doug Collins — Krause preferred Joe Wolf. The Rodman trade was an easy decision since the seismic reputation of Jordan kept Dennis in line. Michael and Phil did all the heavy lifting.
Krause missed often. Brad Sellers, Mark Randall, Byron Houston, Dickey Simpkins, Jason Caffey, Corey Benjamin, Marcus Fizer, Dalibor Bagaric, and Eddy Curry were all top picks. Over five seasons, Krause teams post MJ averaged 19 wins. Choosing Tim Floyd over Jackson should tarnish any legacy.
2. Head coach Tom Thibodeau - 2010-15
Thibs was a great coach with a commendable work ethic, but he allocated excessive minutes to key players. A few examples:
- Two days after removing a walking book in January of 2012, Rose played 39 and 41 minutes in back to back games. The Rose game logs from 2011-12 are appalling in retrospect.
- In 2012-13, Noah averaged 41.1 mpgs over a 16-game stretch. Noah later missed 15 games with an injured foot. Meatheads would attribute this to 'bad luck.'
- Jimmy Butler once played 48 minutes in a preseason game.
Was it just “Thibs being Thibs”? In reality, it was short-sighted idiocy.
1. Nikola Mirotic - 2014-18
In almost every game that mattered, you could depend on Niko to underperform. He always brought his best to games that mattered least. His Bulls career playoff numbers are a statistical catastrophe (31.9% shooting from the field, 26.2% from 3).
The 'Three Alphas' Bulls asked him to spread the floor. Instead, he constricted it. From Game 1 to the All Star break of the 2016-17 season, teams were eager to let Niko brick 4.9 threes per game at an abysmal 29.9% rate. He did put up All-Star numbers for a 3-20 Bulls tanking team. Indeed, tanks for nothing, Mr. Overrated.