Growing up in the 90’s (don’t date me bro!), it would have been hard to imagine not just the mediocrity that would follow the next two decades (okay, I’ll add the qualifier “measured” mediocrity for all those Noah/Rose fanboys out there), but also feeling some sort of compassion for hanging out near the bottom-half of the league for longer than it takes to legally drink.  Truth be told, it’s not like the Bulls have been, say, the Kings over the same span. (I’d feel sorry for making fun of the Kings if they had more than a dozen fans). But there’s definitely been a markable difference between the Michael Jordan Bulls and everything that came afterwards. I also go by the name: Captain Obvious. And while it’s been a long wait for those in Chitown, there’s a lot to like with this team, especially building off a successful season that led to the first round of the playoffs, fruits of their previous active off-seasons. Sure, it’s not the chips we middle-aged men were used to seeing from this team a long time ago, but as someone great once said, time is flat circle… (Don’t worry, I prefer the McConaughey quote over Nietzsche too. Actually, after typing that sentence out, I prefer neither since it took me a few hours for spellcheck to agree).

21-22 Review

Record: 46-36, 6th Seed, Lost in First Round (1-4 vs. Bucks)

As alluded to above, after a plethora of moves in years previous, the 21-22 Bulls finally were able to reach the playoffs. Granted, they were quickly disposed of by the Bucks, but ending the season with a 46-36 record and getting into the first round can be considered measured success. Within context, of course. But that’s not taking away from DeMar DeRozan’s career-year and the improvements on the defensive end of the ball when (the caveat) Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams were actually on the court at the same time. And of course, that’s the rub because I both enjoy BBQ and getting physically rubbed. With some injury luck this upcoming season, the Bulls just might be a team that can go further than the first round and make some noise doing it.

22-23 Outlook

Projected Depth Chart

PG: Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Coby White, Goran Dragić

SG: Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu

SF: DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green, Dalen Terry

PF: Patrick Williams, Derrick Jones

C: Nikola Vucevic, Andre Drummond

Averaging 27.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists with 50.4% shooting from the field, DeMar DeRozan brought robust results, both in real life and fantasy. But keep in mind that both Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine missed a number of games last year which most likely played a factor. Still, don’t let that dilute the fact that DeRozan is still the leader on this team in all aspects.

Speaking of Zach LaVine, the injury which played a factor was a nagging knee issue that definitely played a role in his lower 24.4 points per game average (by over three points). But he still provided 4.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and nearly 3 three-pointers per and coming off a brand-new max extension, it’s clear the Bulls are a big believer. You can be one too. Just remember that he’s never played more than 67 games in a season since 2016.

Arriving last offseason, Lonzo Ball put together his most productive season to date for the Bulls, his third team in five seasons. But, and it’s the same but as LaVine (haha butt), the persistent injury bug is part of the recipe. Because food. Ball underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus at the beginning of this year, and despite the six-week return table, he never played another game during the season with just 35 games total played. He clearly still remains a strong presence on the floor with plenty of ceiling left, but the risk still remains.

Draft Spotlight: With just one pick in the draft, the number 18 overall, the Bulls selected Dalen Terry out of Arizona. He’s not as polished as his peers, but Terry does have interesting size, standing at 6’7″ with an expansive 7’1″ wingspan at the point guard position. While primarily a facilitator in college, scouts have noted his quickness and agility that could serve well at the wing. While you normally wouldn’t expect to see a raw player see a lot of playing time, the injury potential above still exists which could make Terry someone to keep an eye on throughout the year.

Conclusion

Projected Record: 50-32, 4th Seed, Conference Semifinals

As peppered throughout (needs more salt!), what stands in the way of a deep playoff run for the Bulls is quite simply a little bit of luck with health. If they can keep their core on the floor, especially when it matters most, the sky is the ceiling. Well, with some of the teams out there, maybe a chip is a bit far-fetched, but getting out of the first round is not unreasonable at all and should be expected from this improving Chicago team.

These aren’t the Bulls we used to know and love, but there’s nothing wrong with success by another name…

 

Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him on Twitter @jaywrong.

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