Will the Chicago Bulls go over 41.5 wins this season?
The Chicago Bulls are coming off one of the more surprising stories in the 2021-2022 season. They finished 6th in the East with a 46-36 record and surpassed their win total of 43.5. The NBA season starts Tuesday, but the Bulls will open their season Wednesday on the road against the Miami Heat. It is important for the Bulls to get off to a good start with the East being better from top to bottom. Can the Chicago Bulls exceed their win total in consecutive years? Let’s break it all down and get the answer to that question.
The win total for the Chicago Bulls at Fanduel right now is 41.5. This is two games off of their opening win total last year. They are +600 to win the Central Division, +2500 to win the Eastern Conference, and +6500 to win the NBA Championship. Last season was full of high highs and low lows for this team. They started out on fire winning 27 of their first 40 games led by MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan. The hot start was soon cooled due to the numerous injuries to key players.
Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Patrick Williams all suffered injuries throughout the season and were in and out of the lineup. Lonzo went down in January and failed to return with some knee issues that he is currently still dealing with. Caruso only played 41 games due to suffering back-to-back injuries during the season. Patrick Williams was also sidelined with a near season-ending injury after only 17 games in the regular season before returning in the playoffs where he did not quite have his legs under him.
We all know that continuity and chemistry are key factors in a winning NBA team. The Chicago Bulls failed to have either of these with players being in and out of the lineup due to injuries. This caused them to fall from the first overall seed in the east to 6th while finishing 19-23 after the Lonzo injury.
During the Lonzo and Caruso injuries, the Bulls lacked on-ball defenders as well as playmaking. That was bad for a team who desperately needed both of those things last year with what they had on the roster. This caused the Bulls to finish 22nd overall in defensive rating and 5th in turnovers. With Lonzo set to miss extended time, it will be important for the Bulls to find some playmaking and defense at the guard position.
A bright spot from last year during all the chaos was the play of rookie Ayo Dosunmu. Ayo played extremely well in his role shooting 37.6 percent from beyond the arc while being one of the primary ball handlers on the court. His superb play landed him on the 2nd team All-Rookie team and gave him the confidence to be able to win the starting job while Lonzo recovers. He will have a reliable vet to lean on in Goran Dragic who was signed this summer. Dragic should help out with some backcourt depth and more importantly some shooting.
It is no secret that the Chicago Bulls go as far as their two all-star guards can take them. Zach Lavine inked a max contract over the summer which locks him up for the foreseeable future. This should motivate him to be more reliable on the defensive end where the Bulls need him most. DeMar is not going to repeat what he did last year but to be truthful, I don’t think the Bulls want or need him to. Last year was one of, if not the best in DeMar’s career.
Asking him to repeat that at his age, with the talent that you have on this roster is a lot to ask. I can make an argument that if he has another career year, it implies this Chicago Bulls roster has underachieved. DeMar should be the second option behind Lavine while allowing these younger guys to bloom and perform at a higher level than last season.
Among those young guys who need to play at a higher level is 2020 lottery pick Patrick Williams. There has been a lot of praise for this young man but we have yet to see it put on display consistently. Health is the primary concern, as it is for this entire Chicago Bulls roster. Williams has the tools to be the two-way wing all NBA teams want and need. Is he ready to step up and show everyone why? It remains to be seen, but if the Bulls want a shot at getting back into the playoffs, he is an important part of that.
The Chicago Bulls also added another potential two-way wing in Dalen Terry who should see some valuable minutes this year. His defense and playmaking will be needed to help guard some of the dynamic wings in the East. Although that is a lot to ask of a young player, I think Terry has what it takes to defend at a high level.
Another player who is in a prove-it year is Coby White. It was a surprise to me when Coby did not win the starting job over Ayo this off-season. I think Coby has a higher floor than Ayo overall as a point guard in this system. He has been in the system longer, is a better shooter, and playmaker. Maybe Billy Donovan wants his skill set off of his bench with the second unit, but I think this is a fascinating year for White. His shooting has to be a little more consistent, and if he can become a better defender anchoring that second unit, I think the sky is the limit for this Chicago Bulls bench.
Offensively, I think the Chicago Bulls will be just fine. They finished 13th in offensive rating last year and shot the ball extremely well from inside the three. They do need to take and make more threes this season if they want to be more of a threat. In three-pointers made and attempted, they finished bottom three in each category. Getting a healthy Caruso and Williams back, added to the Dragic signing, should increase those metrics. An under-the-radar addition to this team is the signing of Andre Drummond. The Bulls finished 28th in rebounding last year, and Drummond will definitely help solve that issue.
The win total right now is right where it should be in my opinion. There are a few more questions than answers for this Bulls team as currently constructed. This is not to say the Bulls will not come out and win games, but without Lonzo, I think there is a cap on how good they can be. The depth is there, but none of it is proven or consistent.
Last year the Bulls went 1-14 against the East’s top 4 seeds which shows when they stepped up in class, they did not have enough. As good as they are with Lavine and DeRozan on the wing, I question some of the pieces around them.
I would not touch the win total because of how improved and deep the East is. I think the better wager to make on the Chicago Bulls is for them to make the play in tournament. The top 5-6 teams in the East I think are pretty much locked in, so a 7-10 finish for the Bulls seems realistic. The odds are currently at -110 at Fanduel which is pretty fair, but be sure to shop around for a bigger payout if you agree with the breakdown.
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