The Bulls missed the postseason and the NBA’s Play-In Tournament last season despite a trade deadline deal for All-Star center Nikola Vucvic. Arturas Karnišovas seems committed to building a winning team in Chicago, and the Bulls’ offseason moves certainly signaled that.
Chicago finally brought in a point guard to play alongside Zach LaVine in Ball, which will allow Coby White to play the role of a microwave scorer off the bench for the Bulls. Ball and Caruso also will help hide the defensive weaknesses the LaVine and White possess.
White (115), LaVine (114) and Tomas Satoransky (114) had the three worst defensive ratings per 100 possessions on the roster last season. Jones Jr., Ball and Caruso are all known for their defense, and Ball will provide the Bulls with improved playmaking and a steady shot from beyond the arc.
The addition of DeRozan gives the Bulls another proven scorer, and one that can create his own shot in the mid-range. Vucevic is a solid complement to LaVine, but in a league that relies on perimeter shot creation, there’s only so much a center can do.
DeRozan’s 3-point shot is his main offensive weakness, but Ball, Caruso, Patrick Williams, LaVine and White all can take the pressure off as perimeter shooters. Having DeRozan to take some of the offensive load from LaVine could make the All-Star guard even more efficient, which is a scary thought after he shot 50.7 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from 3 last season.
Can the Bulls sneak into the postseason with their new core? With LaVine in the final year of his deal, Karnišovas and head coach Billy Donovan certainly hope so.
Here’s how WynnBET Sportsbook views the Bulls heading into the 2021-22 season:
Chicago Bulls Win Total Prediction | 42.5 (Over -116/Under -105)
I’m intrigued to see how this team meshes, as I think the pieces are there for LaVine and Vucevic to succeed, but last season the Bulls never got off the ground with their All-Star duo.
Now, with DeRozan and Ball in the mix, the Bulls are going to need some time to find their chemistry and balance offensively, but they should improve even more on the defensive end. The Bulls were 20th in the NBA in net rating last season (-1.1), and they will need to find themselves in at least the upper half of the league if they want to be a playoff team.
The Wizards (-1.6) and Miami Heat (-0.1) were the only teams to make the postseason in the 2020-21 campaign with a negative net rating.
Chicago Bulls Playoff Odds
It’s not a bad sign for a Chicago team that has been lottery bound for several years, but it does mean that the Bulls could find themselves in the play-in tournament this season.
I think they are correctly valued at this number, as we haven’t seen how all the new pieces will work together, but Chicago’s ceiling is much higher than year’s past with DeRozan, Ball and Vucevic all alongside LaVine for a full season.