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2023-24 NBA Previews: Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls
(Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

2023-24 NBA Previews: Chicago Bulls

Up next in Vendetta’s NBA previews is the Chicago Bulls. 

What happened last season?

The 2022-23 season was not great for the Chicago Bulls by any means. For starters, Lonzo Ball missed the entire year while trying to recover from a meniscus tear that he suffered in January 2023. Without Ball, the Bulls finished 40-42 which was six games worse than the previous season. They ended up finishing third in the Central Division and tenth in the Eastern Conference, which put them in the play-in games. 

In the first play-in game, the Bulls took on the Toronto Raptors. Despite being down 19 at one point they fought back and won 109-105. The luck did not carry over however as they were then destroyed by the Miami Heat 91-102. This meant that they missed out on the playoffs for the fifth time in the past six seasons.  

Offseason Overview

By far the biggest news for the Chicago Bulls this offseason was that they would be without Lonzo Ball for the entire 2023-24 season. The injury was apparently so bad that the 25-year-old was rumored to possibly never play in the NBA ever again. That is a huge loss for the Bulls. Outside of the Ball news, the Bulls did not make too many moves. They re-signed Nikola Vucevic, Andre Drummond, Ayo Dosunmu, and Coby White while signing Torrey Craig from the Phoenix Suns. Craig adds important bench help as he is a solid two-way player. The Bulls had just one draft pick and took Julian Phillips, a small forward from Tennessee. 

The only notable loss for the Bulls was Patrick Beverley moving to Philadelphia after just one season for his hometown team. This isn’t a huge loss since Beverley only played in 22 games last year. The guard depth was helped with the addition of Jevon Carter from Milwaukee to replace Beverley. 

Projected starting five

PG: Coby White – There was a question surrounding who the starting PG of the Bulls was going to be, but it looks like the answer is now Coby White. After starting just two games last season, the 23-year-old is set to be the starter for the first time since the 2020-21 season when he started in 54 of his 69 games played. While his scoring numbers have gone down the past few seasons, White is still a very dangerous three-point shooter with quick hands on the defensive end. 

SG: Zach LaVine Since joining the Chicago Bulls in 2017, LaVine has finished top two on the team in scoring every season. Last season he led the team with 24.8ppg. LaVine rose to fame with his insane dunking ability, but he has now formed an all-around dangerous attack. He can shoot the ball from all over the court, he shot 48.5% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range. LaVine is a rising star and clearly the offensive leader of the Bulls, he could very well find himself back in the all-star conversation.  

SF: DeMar DeRozan The 34-year-old DeRozan has aged like fine wine. He made his second straight All-Star Game appearance last season while averaging 24.5ppg, 5.1ast, and 1.1stl. Alongside LaVine, DeRozan has thrived and the two have created a very dangerous duo in the ‘Windy City.’ The question for DeRozan is when will time finally catch up with him?

PF: Patrick Williams Williams was one of two players for the Bulls to play in all 82 games last season, and as a result put up a career-high in points with 10.2ppg. At only 6ft 8in, Williams is slightly undersized for the PF position, but he is a tenacious rebounder who can guard almost all five positions. With Vucevic down low, Williams can space the floor on offense since he shot 41.5% from three last year.

C: Nikola Vucevic – Vucevic is one of the most underrated big men in the NBA and has been for a while. Fortunately for him, the Bulls recognized his talent and made sure to lock him down this offseason by giving him a three-year contract worth $60m. In his three previous seasons in Chicago, Vucevic has averaged a double-double. Last season he finished with 17.6ppg and 11.0reb while playing in all 82 games which seems unheard of in the current NBA. 

Other rotational players

G: Alex Caruso Caruso continued being one of the best defenders in the league from the guard position. However, his offensive production has fallen to just 5.6ppg last season. 

C: Andre Drummond – Drummond’s role in Chicago is simple; come off the bench, rebound the ball, and make your shots. He did this very well last year. In just 12 minutes per game, he managed to average 6.0ppg on 60.6% shooting with 6.6reb. A great backup option when Vucevic needs a break.

F: Torrey Craig – After a long journey to get to the NBA, Craig has solidified himself as a hardworking three-and-D player. In the past, he has mainly played the small forward position but is listed as the backup power forward for Chicago which will be an interesting experience. 

X-Factor: Guard rotation

The guard positions for the Bulls have an abundance of depth. Besides Caruso, LaVine, and White, Jevon Carter, and Ayo Dosunmu could both see significant time at one of the guard positions. This means that it will be very important for head coach Billy Donovan to find balance and consistent starters. All five of those players played 67 or more games last season with four of them starting in more than 35 games. It is a loaded backcourt that could be the difference maker for the Bulls who are without arguably their best guard. 

Projection

I think that the Bulls will get off to a good start for the first month of the season. However, a brutal stretch from November 28 to December 20 will see them fall down the standings. Over that month they play @Boston, home and away to Milwaukee, home to Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers, @Miami twice, and @Philadelphia. This could be a long losing streak that hurts the younger team. I have the Bulls finishing 39-43 and making the play-in before being knocked out in the first game. 

***

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