Talking with news reporters today in Chicago ahead of the All-Star Weekend, Charles Barkley discussed several topics, and one of them was the disappointment he has towards the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls who have a talented young core of players are, according to Barkley doing worse than they should have. They are currently 10th in eastern conference five games behind the 8th seed Orlando Magic, and things are not looking good for the team and their playoff hopes.
Barkley is disappointed in Lauri Markkanen, and he believes he regressed from his last season, where he already looked like a perennial All-Star averaging almost 19 points and over nine rebounds per game. This season his numbers have gone down, scoring 15 points and grabbing only 6.5 rebounds per game.
"I have no idea what happened to Lauri Markkanen. I thought he was going to be the next big thing, and he has regressed."
Zach LaVine is by far the best player on the Bulls, averaging over 25 points per game. After Lillard announced he would not participate in this year's All-Star game, there was a chance LaVine might step in, but that didn't happen. Barkley said he is not surprised LaVine isn't invited to participate in the All-Star game. He also thinks the Bulls as a team need to mature and make the best use of the talent they have.
"He didn't deserve it. They need to grow up, mature and realize they got a chance to be an elite team, but they are not mentally tough at all. They are the Cleveland Browns of the NBA. They want to tell you how good they are instead of playing. "
Barkley believes a team with so many young players needs an experienced veteran player that will hold guys accountable. The lack of veteran leadership is a problem several young NBA teams are facing.
"They need a veteran guy who will be holding young guys accountable."
When asked about their coach Jim Boylen, Barkley said he has no comment because Boylen is his close friend.
"Jim Boylen is a good friend of mine, and I will leave it at that, but I don't know what the Bulls are doing."
There is something wrong with the Bulls because on paper they look like a team that should be aiming for the playoffs this season. Instead, they are not playing great basketball at all, and Barkley is entirely right when he said they need to mature and step up their game. They have a lot of potential, but the Bulls management will have to make some changes and perhaps bring more experience to their young core of players.