Chicago Bulls: February in Review

The Chicago Bulls capped off their whirlwind February with a 109-107 road victory at the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Their 5-5 finish to the month is their best this season, and their best since going 10-6 back in December 2017.

The tide turned after the Feb. 7 trade deadline, as the Bulls pulled off a major deal the night before. They sent Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis, and a future second-round pick to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr. The Bulls have now gone 5-3 since the deadline after going 2-16 in the five weeks before it. They are also 3-1 since the All-Star Break.

Chicago’s offense has been the key to their turnaround. According to, the Bulls produced a 116.2 offensive rating in February, third-best in the league. That’s a franchise-best mark for a multi-game month since at least 1996-97, the farthest back the league website tracks the stat.

This efficiency shows up in the raw numbers. The Bulls scored at least 110 points in each of their first nine games, and missed the threshold by a point in the tenth. Naturally, it also shows up in the true-shooting percentage: a season-high 59.0 percent. Chicago also managed to have season-bests in rebounding percentage (50.9 percent) and turnover percentage (11.8).

The tandem of Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine has led the charge. Both players combined to average 50.5 points per game this month. Specifically, Markkanen averaged a double-double of 26.0 points and 12.2 rebounds. LaVine came away with 24.5 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Porter Jr. has been a positive presence right from his first game. He even notched a career-high 37 points and 10 rebounds in a Feb. 13 win over Memphis. There were concerns that he would be too passive to consistently contribute. However, the change of scenery seems to have helped his confidence, as he is currently averaging 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists through his first seven games.

Robin Lopez has even managed to carve out a niche in this offense. Leading into the deadline, it seemed like he wouldn’t fit into an uptempo offense. A buyout was presumably around the corner. However, Lopez stepped up and finished the month averaging 15.5 points per game. That is a career-high for a single month. Now, the talks have subsided, and it looks like Lopez will play out the season in the Windy City.

However, as well as the Bulls’ have been on offense, they’ve been just as bad on the other end of the floor. Their 116.3 defensive rating is sixth-worst in the league. It’s also their second-worst mark for a month in franchise history since at least 1996-97, surpassed only by a 116.5 mark back in October. With the team posting a season-high -0.1 net rating, it’s clear that Chicago’s offense has been their best defense.

After months of turmoil, the Chicago Bulls became a little more fun to watch in February. It’s hard to imagine that this offense will continue to perform at such an efficient rate. However, with their lottery odds almost solidified, it’s just good to see key members of the young core — Markkanen, LaVine, Porter — play well and mesh as a unit. New challenges await in March. We’ll see if this team can build on this productive month.

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