The regular season is almost here for the Chicago Bulls. We are less than a week away until they get things started October 19th in Miami.
46-36, finishing 6th in the Eastern Conference.
Unadjusted (B-R.com) Offensive Rating: 114.07
Unadjusted (B-R.com) Defensive Rating: 114.55
Not counting training camp invites, the Bulls officially added four new players to their roster for the upcoming season. They selected Terry with the 20th pick in the NBA Draft and when free agency opened up signed veterans Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond.
With few additions, there were also few losses. Troy Brown Jr. signed a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, while Chicago didn’t re-sign Matt Thomas and Tristan Thompson and they’re still free agents.
After one of the better seasons in recent memory, the Bulls will be looking to build upon that. Yet, with very much the same roster, there are familiar concerns: the health of key guys (Lonzo Ball), three-point shooting, and if the Bulls can recreate the same type of play that saw them surge out to the conference’s best record early in the season.
Yet there are things to be excited for, too. Particularly the development of the young guys in Ayo Dosunmu, Dalen Terry, and Patrick Williams. Veterans Javonte Green, Alex Caruso, and Nikola Vucevic looked great in the pre-season, while new additions Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic showed the possibility that they can provide depth to the second unit.
So what should we expect from Chicago this season? What is the ceiling and floor of this team? Let’s answer some questions about the upcoming 2022-23 Bulls season.
What’s the ‘Best Case’ scenario for your team this season?
Ball comes back by December, joining a Chicago team that is humming offensively and creating havoc defensively. They are turning teams over and are flying down the court for easy baskets. Williams has taken a leap, Dosunmu shows he’s capable of being a starting point guard, and even Dalen Terry shows flashes during his limited minutes off the bench. Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond prove to be shrewd signings while Vooch looks a lot more comfortable in the offense. DeRozan continues to be an excellent offensive player and LaVine proves the max contract was the right choice by becoming one of the more lethal scorers in the league. Chicago shows that last season wasn’t a fluke and finishes in the top five of the Eastern Conference with a chance to host a Game 1 in the first round.
What’s the ‘Worst Case’ scenario for your team this season?
The worst case scenario for the Bulls has been clearly outlined since the summer. First, the health of this team doesn’t get better. Ball ends up missing the season and other guys miss time with various injuries. Patrick Williams ends up not taking a leap at all and it becomes very clear that all of his superstar potential is gone. The good preseasons from guys like Vooch and Green don’t translate to the regular season. DeRozan regresses and the defense leaks points in heaps. The FA signings don’t help at all and end up hampering the bench. This scenario ends with the Bulls finishing outside of the play-in tournament and are a lottery team with a pick in the early teens...only to give that pick to the Orlando Magic.
What’s the ‘Most Likely’ scenario for your team this season?
The Bulls again struggle against the elite teams in the league but do just enough to beat the teams around or worse than them. Ball misses the rest of the calendar year, but comes back in 2023 and gives them a big boost defensively. Williams shows flashes offensively of being a key player in the future but they are few and far between. However he does enough defensively to be a guy Chicago can count for this version of their roster. DeRozan takes a little of a step back but is still the go-to guy for the Bulls in crunch time. Along with a healthy LaVine, Chicago has enough scoring punch to hold their own against the other very good teams. The bench is up and down with the newly-acquired vets going through stretches of rough play. Caruso continues to be a menace defensively while Dosunmu does the same but struggles to take the next step offensively. Terry doesn’t play a whole lot but still has fans excited for the future. Green makes an impact at the four spot and seems to be in line for a hefty pay raise in the summer. Chicago does all it can to fight its way into the playoffs. It will be a grind in the play-in tournament and they will have to scratch and claw their way into the postseason. Their season likely ends with them crashing out in the first round, but they could catch someone by surprise if the matchup is right.
What are you most excited for going into this season?
Two things in particular, with the first one being the offense. All summer, there was talk of a new offense, and it will be interesting from an X’s and O’s perspective to see how many new concepts/actions are created for this team in the half court. Hopefully it means more three-point chances along with secondary plays drawn up for the role players to get easy shots. With defenses focusing in on DeRozan and LaVine, there could be opportunities for other guys to make an impact.
The second thing is the development of the younger plays such as Dosunmu and Williams. With the Bulls pushing to be a playoff team they don’t really have the time to spend focusing solely on these guys development in terms of goals for the season. But if the Bulls want to keep their spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, they will need the younger guys to step up. Dosunmu had a solid rookie season but he needs to add to his offensive game. While Williams needs to work more on his ability to create chances for himself off the ball on offense. With his limited touches in this Chicago offense, he needs to play fast and decisive. There were too many times last season where he would disappear for stretches on end. The growth of these two role players will be something to look out for.
Predict your team’s win/loss record for the season.
The Eastern Conference as a whole improved this offseason, and that doesn’t help the Bulls one bit. This is a deep conference with a lot of good teams which will push Chicago. They will need to be on their game/muster up some great performances in conference play especially.
Chicago won 46 games last season and sadly I’m predicting they win fewer games than that, but I’m not seeing too much of a drop-off. My official prediction is 43-39. But there is a definite case where they end up with a less than .500 record if health factors don’t go their way.
Predict your team’s conference seeding.
With the way it’s currently constructed, I do not think Chicago finishes in the top six of the East, but with DeRozan and LaVine they won’t fall below play-in. My official prediction is 8th but I can see them finishing anywhere in the 7-10 range.