The N.B.A. Should Crown a Champion. But Will the Title Count?

All that good work, though, may not be enough to nudge Davis past Antetokounmpo, who anchors the league’s top-ranked defense in Milwaukee. The Bucks have several other quality defenders — Brook and Robin Lopez, Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Wesley Matthews — but Antetokounmpo is the space-eater whose size, length, speed and strength make the opposition feel him every time it has the ball.

Consider that the Bucks allow a mere 101.6 points per 100 possessions to sit atop the defensive efficiency charts yet that figure dips to a measly 96.5 points per 100 possessions when Antetokounmpo is on the floor. There will be strong sentiment among voters to make Giannis just the third player in league history to win the Most Valuable Player Award and D.P.O.Y. honors in the same season, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon, although my gut tells me Davis was in the lead when the season was suspended.

Q: Hey @chicagobulls you can’t even get an interview with an assistant G.M. Nobody wants to be associated/work with John Paxson and Reinsdorf. — @matt_samuelson_ from Twitter

Stein: Your dismay is understood, but the Bulls’ situation isn’t quite that dire. Although they’ve indeed missed out on three candidates they wanted to interview to lead a front-office overhaul, two well-regarded candidates remain in contention even after it was made clear that Toronto’s Bobby Webster, Miami’s Adam Simon and Indiana’s Chad Buchanan would not be participating in the interview process.

Utah’s Justin Zanik and Denver’s Arturas Karnisovas, Chicago’s first two interviewees, are highly rated. The Bulls will be lauded if they land either of them.

Chicago has made the playoffs once in the past five seasons. Fan frustration with the owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the front-office duo of John Paxson and Gar Forman has been bubbling for far longer than that. Hopes that ownership would pursue the likes of Toronto’s Masai Ujiri or Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti were snuffed out quickly, presumably because the Bulls are not prepared to compete financially for executives from the league’s top tier — but also because they can’t attract such candidates. The job simply isn’t as desirable as it should be in a major market and considering Chicago’s storied history, given the state of the roster and the organization’s sullied reputation.

The Bulls will have to prove to candidates that they’re prepared to move on from Paxson and Forman, grant true autonomy and provide the financial resources necessary to plot a path back to Eastern Conference contention. Your skepticism can be heard in league circles, too, and Chicago has certainly earned it. But the search, led this time by Reinsdorf’s son Michael, is also in its infancy. It’s too soon to sound (all) the alarms.

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