Patrick Beverley’s debut with Bulls eye-opening in many ways
There have been questions about the leadership in the Bulls’ locker room since 2017. While Beverley might solve that short-term, it’s an indication of just how flawed this roster is.
DeMar DeRozan didn’t hide his appreciation for his newest teammate.
After burying the Nets under the United Center floor on Friday, DeRozan talked about what Patrick Beverley already means to the Bulls.
“When you’ve got a guy like Pat Beverley on the team, the intensity that he comes [with], the second he came in the energy he brings, you’ve got to follow that,’’ DeRozan said. “He holds everybody accountable and is going to compete at a high level. When you see a teammate with that type of mentality, you’ve got to follow behind that, and I think you saw that.’’
The entire arena did as the Bulls put together their most one-sided beatdown of the season, hammering the Nets by 44 points in front of Beverley’s hometown crowd.
But DeRozan’s praise also was an indictment that should have caught the ears of executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and the rest of his front office.
Zach LaVine has been a Bull for six seasons, has two All-Star appearances and joined the max-contract club last summer.
DeRozan has become the face of the franchise in less than two seasons, but he isn’t exactly known for his voice and communication on defense.
Center Nikola Vucevic is also a two-time All-Star, but like DeRozan, he leads through action more than words.
But Beverley walks off the street and within two practices and a shootaround becomes the de facto leader?
It’s another indication of how flawed the Bulls’ “continuity’’ plan was and the reason the team needs major changes this offseason, no matter what happens in the final 22 regular-season games.
With all the blown leads, frequent lack of energy and game-to-game inconsistency, leadership has been a question with this roster since last season. To be more precise, since 2017, when the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler.
And while sources have indicated that this group has had its share of players-only meetings this season, they generally have resembled choir boys wrist-slapping someone for singing off key.
The one meeting that did get contentious was during the loss Dec. 18 in Minnesota when several players grew tired of LaVine’s lack of consistency on defense and called him out on it at halftime.
But even then, it wasn’t a call-out by name as much as a “you know who you are.’’
Just look at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Celtics have Marcus Smart, the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday and 76ers have Joel Embiid. It’s no coincidence that the Cavaliers made a huge jump since adding Donovan Mitchell.
They all have different leadership styles, but they’re unquestionably leaders. It’s an even better package when it’s leadership and talent.
The Bulls can hope Beverley’s presence — even if it’s short-lived — leaves a lasting impression in the locker room.
Still, one of their top priorities after the season is moving off of “continuity’’ and more toward a voice that demands accountability.
Until then, it’s Beverley’s job to lead. And as DeRozan admitted, everyone else must follow.