Nikola Vucevic alludes this season could be a ‘last chance’ to make something happen originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Artūras Karnišovas and the Bulls’ front office have preached “continuity” since they started building a competitive roster during the summer of 2021.
And they’re not wavering off that plan. Despite outside cries for the Bulls to dismantle their roster and step back for a rebuild, the front office opted to push forward.
To that end, one of the most significant pieces of their team, Nikola Vucevic, understands this could be a make-or-break season for the Bulls.
“We know we can do better, and we have to do better,” Vučević said in the Yahoo! Sports article. “And we know it’s kind of our last chance as this core of guys to do something.”
The Bulls reloaded their roster this offseason in hopes of improving the margins.
They signed Jevon Carter, a prolific and efficient 3-point shooter, and Torrey Craig, a veteran 3-and-D option.
The Bulls also hopped into the 2023 NBA draft, one they initially owned zero selections for, to draft Tennessee wing Julian Phillips, known for his athleticism and defensive capabilities.
Speaking of Vucevic, the Bulls inked him to a three-year extension worth $60 million this offseason. The move drew controversy after a 40-42 season had fans begging for a retooling of the roster.
Vucevic protests that line of thinking, arguing he’s used differently in Chicago than he was in Orlando, where he earned two All-Star nods.
“I know in Chicago people have different opinions of how it’s been for me,” Vucevic said in the Yahoo! Sports article. “But it’s not the same situation I had in Orlando. I’m not used to the same way. I’m not playing the same way.
“Although, I felt this year was one of my best ever. Scoring-wise, no. But I’m taking five, six shots less than I did in Orlando. It has different strengths. It’s made me a better overall player for sure, and helped me mature, be able to adapt better, playing with different types of players in a different system.”
Vucevic’s season, while hidden behind the stamp of the team’s underwhelming record, was successful. He finished third in the NBA in double-doubles. And he played 82 games for the first time in his career, flashing his durability, despite playing on the wrong side of 30 years old.
It hasn’t been easy for Vucevic to adapt to the Bulls. He’s surrounded by the most playmakers he’s played with in his career. Between Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, his game sometimes inserts an awkward presence on the floor.
He HAS averaged the same stat line over the last two seasons with 17.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Last season, however, his efficiency across all areas improved drastically. His shooting splits of 52%/34.9%/83.5% hopefully point to a comfortability in the offense and a growing presence on the floor.
All talk aside, he understands that his, and the team’s, performance on the court is the only outcome that matters.
“We’ve got some new teammates, some good signings that will help us. And so now it’s on us as players to figure it out and find a way to have a better year,” Vucevic said.
Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.