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The 2021-22 Bulls season: really damn fun (before it went south)

overall, it was great to enjoy the Bulls again

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Bulls’ 2021-22 season ended with a thud on Wednesday night in Milwaukee, with a shorthanded Chicago squad getting blown out for a third straight game to lose to the Bucks in five games. There was no Zach LaVine, no Alex Caruso, no Lonzo Ball and no hope.

It was a rather fitting end after how the last quarter of the season went. The Bulls went 7-15 to end the regular season and got blown out plenty of times before getting outscored by 67 points over five games against the Bucks. At least DeMar DeRozan got one more epic moment this season in Game 2.

But before all that, the Bulls were truly one of the best stories in the NBA and also one of the most fun. The bar was low after racking up the worst record in the NBA over the past four seasons, but the Bulls were legitimately good and fun for a large chunk of the season on both ends of the court.

They were 27-11 before LaVine and Ball got hurt in mid-January. Ball and Caruso gave the Bulls a defensive identity by wreaking havoc on the perimeter, forcing turnovers and getting them going in transition. DeRozan and LaVine led the charge as a dominant scoring duo. Rookie Ayo Dosunmu burst on the scene as a hometown favorite. For all his warts, Nikola Vucevic had his moments in the middle. Javonte Green admirably filled in for the injured Patrick Williams with his infectious energy. So many dunks!

Even after the injuries started adding up, DeRozan kept things rolling with a historic stretch of basketball heading into the All-Star break, and the Bulls got their record to 39-21 right after the break before things went south. It was like watching Michael Jordan again with his mid-range scoring binges against hapless defenses. And, of course, that run came after DeRozan rang in 2022 with consecutive buzzer-beaters.

DeRozan put forth one of the best individual seasons since Jordan and helped put the Bulls back on the map. They felt like a dark-horse contender there for a bit. Even if that was ambitious given the roster flaws, we’ll never know just how good they could have been because of all the key injuries (and that Ball injury continues to be troubling).

So, here’s to the 2021-22 Chicago Bulls, a flawed yet fun team that had one roller-coaster ride of a season. It was nice to finally enjoy watching Bulls basketball again, at least for most of the season. There’s obviously plenty of work to do in order to take another step, but we can worry about that another time.

For now, let’s remember the best times from this season. CHGO’s Will Gottlieb and Sporting News’ Stephen Noh both put together great tribute videos:

Who can forget Steph’s cat videos?! That was a fun tradition to look forward to after wins. Let’s hope the Bulls will give us even more joy in 2022-23.