Midterm grades are in for the Bulls, and they’re not pretty

SHARE Midterm grades are in for the Bulls, and they’re not pretty

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is running short on superlatives when discussing star Jimmy Butler.

‘‘Great,’’ ‘‘brilliant’’ and ‘‘unbelievable’’ are words Hoiberg has used throughout the first half of the regular season to describe Butler.

But one word he’s not using is ‘‘surprised.’’

‘‘Because I know how much time and effort he puts into his offseason workout programs,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘Just how he’s always looking to add to his game. The biggest thing we’ve done more with him this year is put the ball in his hands, especially in the fourth quarter, and let him play the role of our lead facilitator. He’s been really good in that role.’’

Butler has been good at almost everything. That’s why with the Bulls heading into the second half of the season, Butler’s midterm grade is a no-brain A.

Here are the grades for the rest of the team:

Dwyane Wade: Sure, he’s had some absences, but they’ve all been excused (sorry, Derrick Rose). His impact might be bigger off the court than on it. Grade: A-.

Taj Gibson: The last soldier standing from the Rose dynasty that never happened. Ask it, and Gibson does it. Grade: A-.

Robin Lopez: The big man has done exactly what he was brought in to do — rebound and play like a 7-footer. He’s a rim protector and a reason the Bulls are so good at grabbing offensive rebounds. Grade: B.

Michael Carter-Williams: Is he an upgrade from Tony Snell? Yes, because he contributes, especially on defense. But he’s still a shooting liability. Grade: B.

Rajon Rondo: Based on performance, Rondo gets a C. Then again, can a grade be handed out if the professor was misleading in the lesson? Grade: B-.

Doug McDermott: His 31 points Sunday were great, but why can’t he be a 20-point threat every game? Grade: C+.

Cristiano Felicio: He has great feet and improving hands, but he’s still a one-trick pony around the rim. Grade: C+.

Nikola Mirotic: There hasn’t been enough improvement from a player general manager Gar Forman overhyped. Grade: C-.

Jerian Grant: He has had a few moments, including a start in Portland. He’s an interesting athlete but still has a long way to go. Grade: C-.

Bobby Portis: His dwindling minutes show exactly what the team thinks of him. Playing time doesn’t lie. Grade: D+.

Isaiah Canaan: The three-point specialist looked like the perfect piece for the second unit early in the season, but he is barely used these days. Grade: D.

Paul Zipser: Forman has been doing his best to promote him, but this isn’t the German League. He has a bright future — for the Windy City Bulls. Grade: D.

Denzel Valentine: Bad ankles and catching Butler’s flu have hampered him. The rookie has shown some signs, but we need to see more. Grade: Incomplete.

Hoiberg: Do coaches improve? Absolutely. Has Hoiberg done so in his second season? Absolutely. Victories against elite teams aren’t accidental, but neither are losses to below-average opponents. Grade: C+.

Front office: Unloading Rose was masterful. That saves Forman and vice president John Paxson from a midseason F. But they still have too many missteps on their resume, including a major one this season with the roster they built. The Bulls lack shooters and athletes. Grade: D-.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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