The Bulls played the Washington Wizards on Monday night and lost another one of eight close games they have encountered this season (games within four points or less). They lost 105-101 to the now 6-15 Wizards. The highlight of the night was the matchup between a possible All-star Eastern Conference backcourt of Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal.
LaVine dropped 35 points, two rebounds, and six assists on 46.2% shooting. Beal also put up 35 points, five rebounds, and seven assists on 41.7% shooting from the field and shooting 14/15 from the free-throw line.
LaVine missed the game-tying layup on Monday night with just 1.4 seconds left in regulation after blowing by Beal from halfcourt. Beal got the rebound, was fouled by Denzel Valentine, and made the last two free throws to ice the game with a four-point lead.
After the game, Beal gave kudos to Zach LaVine. “It is hell,” Beal said Monday. “It’s hell. Zach LaVine is a bonafide scorer in this league, he should hands down be an All-Star. I’m not debating. He’s getting my vote,” said Bradley Beal, via Mike Deprisco of NBC Sports Washington.
Beal and Lavine have a mutual relationship, as pictured by this quote. This got us to thinking, what if the two paired up?
Here’s the rundown.
The Wizards are 6-15 this season with the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference. They have one of the best offenses in the NBA (113.8 points per game, eighth in the NBA), but they have the worst defense in the NBA (120.1 allowed points per game, worst in the NBA).
Beal leads the NBA in scoring with 33.3 points per game while recording 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He is the lone star in Washington with very little assistance in his supporting cast.
“Beal has so far expressed he wants to remain in Washington and has not indicated he prefers to be traded, sources with knowledge of the situation tell The Athletic,” via NBC Sports.
While Beal has expressed that he does not have any plans to leave Washington, the Wizards should have plans to make him leave. They need capital to rebuild a new roster, and Beal is the easiest way to acquire a lot of capital in a short period.
How would the Bulls benefit?
The Bulls would get another playmaking star in Bradley Beal. The Bulls’ roster is extremely short-sided in roster talent, with Lavine at the front of the pack as a borderline all-star. He has the 16th highest usage percentage in the NBA, and Beal has the highest at 37% this season. Both players could feed off each other and Donovan’s cutting offense which favors around playmakers as the focal point.
The Bulls need perimeter defense and guard help. Coby White allows his assignments to shoot nearly 51% from the field, compared to Beal’s 46.6% on his opponents’ 11 shots per game. Beal has a career -0.8 defensive box plus/minus (meaning he can provide solid defense when he’s on the floor in comparison to other players), compared to White’s -1.8 through 88 career games.
Beal is an excellent facilitator as well. He has recorded a 19% assist rate in his career, with his highest coming from last season at a 29.1% assist rate.
What would the Bulls give up?
The Bulls would need to give up a healthy amount of their core to make this trade possible. This could be a good time to insert Lauri Markkanen as a trade piece to take on Beal because the Bulls are unsure of his return, and next year is a contract year for him.
Markkanen, paired with Coby White, Tomas Satoransky, and Wendell Carter Jr. would allow each team to balance out cap requirements. Sending a couple of first-round draft picks would probably be required, however difficult because the Bulls still need them to rebuild.
Would the Bulls do this trade? Probably not, but it’s unclear what executives Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have in mind for the future of the Bulls. Markkanen and Carter are currently both out with injuries and are fighting to prove their future worth to the team’s core starting five. The Bulls’ front office knows they need to revamp their roster and should be looking at all options.