The Bulls’ splashy offseason was met with a mixed bag of reactions, so it’s no surprise that predictions and projections for how this team will do in 2021-22 are a bit all over the place as well.
The local beat is drinking the Kool-Aid after an undefeated preseason. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago has the Bulls finishing in the top six in the East. Darnell Mayberry has a list of 10 things he’s excited about at The Athletic, complete with a declaration that it’s time for Bulls fans to “go crazy.” Stephen Noh pegs the Bulls at 46-36.
There is some love outside of Chicago too:
- The Action Network’s Matt Moore likes them to hit their over (around 42-43 wins) and sees them as a 6-seed with a ceiling of 50 wins.
- ESPN’s Zach Lowe has some skepticism about how good they’ll actually be, but he at least has the Bulls at No. 8 on his League Pass Rankings.
- All the NBA experts at CBS Sports have the Bulls at either No. 7 or No. 8 in the East, with more having them at No. 7.
- Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz calls the Bulls a “lock in the playoffs...even if real contention is a year away.”
- Yahoo Sports’ experts gave the Bulls a good amount of praise, with three of seven picking them as their biggest surprise and those same three putting them in the top six in the East, with two 5-seeds. Six of the seven have them in the top eight. There’s also some Arturas Karnisovas and Billy Donovan love for awards.
However, there are plenty of doubters:
- Former SB Nation NBA head honcho Mike Prada has them at 38 wins. TrueHoop’s David Thorpe has them right at .500 with 41 wins.
- The Action Network’s Brandon Anderson picked under 42.5 wins as one of his favorite unders and explained at length why he hates what the Bulls are doing.
- ESPN’s Future Power Rankings list has the Bulls only at No. 19.
- Nate Duncan has the Bulls at 39 wins.
Moving on to look at some of the projection models:
- The Athletic’s John Hollinger became public enemy No. 1 when he predicted the Bulls to finish 37-45 and 11th in the East at the start of the preseason.
- FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR has them at 38-44 with a 36% chance to make the playoffs. Kostya Medvedovsky’s DARKO has them at 39 wins, but it looks like the Bulls’ preseason performance could give them a bump.
- Krishna Narsu used his LEBRON model and Kevin Pelton’s minutes projection to get the Bulls to 41 wins (No. 8).
- Taylor Snarr’s EPM is a bit more bullish on the Bulls, with a projection of over 43 wins (No. 8).
As for me, I’m all aboard the #SeeRed train. Last season’s Bulls were on a 35-win track in an 82-game season, so I just can’t see an increase of only a few wins unless there are devastating injury issues (which is possible). I’m thinking 45-47 wins with a ceiling around 50 and potentially home-court advantage in the first round. I do get some of the skepticism given the roster flaws, improved East and natural Bulls pessimism based on their recent crappiness, but the improved talent level alone on this roster should make for at least a decent-sized jump in wins.
I don’t have delusions of grandeur in terms of them being a legitimate contender or anything, but this team should be fun and pretty darn good. That’s a big step up from the trash of the last half-decade. Now it’s time to go win some games.