Chicago Bulls disrespected in almost every recent power ranking

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

In the latest power rankings from The Athletic (subscription required), ESPN and NBA, the Chicago Bulls have dropped to “on the brink of contention” despite having the same amount of wins as two “contenders” in the Eastern Conference.

After a rough week, the Bulls jumped back into the win column after beating the Detroit Pistons. Prior to the win, they were on a five-game losing streak, with four of the losses coming at the hands of teams with .600 winning percentages. Despite their recent struggles, the Bulls are fourth in the Eastern Conference standings and have the same amount of wins as the Philadelphia 76ers and only one more loss than the Milwaukee Bucks.

But in the latest power rankings, the Bulls were disrespected. As a team that has established itself as a force in a loaded Eastern Conference, it’s puzzling why they fail to get the benefit of the doubt, especially with all of the injuries that have plagued the roster.

The teams most recently ranked above the Bulls (and considered contenders) are:

  1. Pheonix Suns
  2. Milwaukee Bucks
  3. Miami Heat
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Memphis Grizzlies
  6. Philadelphia 76ers
  7. Denver Nuggets
  8. Utah Jazz
  9. Golden State Warriors

The Suns have ran through the NBA and are coming off an NBA Finals appearance. They have pushed through injuries and are on pace to finish the year as the best team in the league. After the Suns, each team placed over the Bulls hasn’t fully separated itself from the rest of the pack.

The Bucks recently beat the Bulls in a close contest. Giannis Antetokounmpo was unstoppable and Jrue Holiday’s defense bothered DeMar DeRozan down the stretch. The Bulls struggled to find scoring outside of their big three but were right there with Milwaukee until the final seconds.

A game that comes down to the wire, especially between two contenders, shows that the gap between them isn’t exactly significant –and their records say the same thing. The Bucks have played more games than the Bulls so far, completing 67 contests compared to the Bulls’ 66. As it stands, the the Bucks have two more wins and one fewer loss.

The Philadelphia 76ers rolled through the Bulls in a game where Nikola Vucevic was sidelined. One player shouldn’t make or break an elite team, but Vucevic was the one post player the Bulls had that could offset Joel Embiid. For reference, the Sixers were routed in multiple games without James Harden — a player relatively new to their system. The Bulls are only a game behind the 76ers in the standings.

The Celtics are a team who started the year slow and have been up and down since. Right now, they are up, but their core’s history has shown to be consistently inconsistent. The Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz, and Denver Nuggets are teams that have been regular season powerhouses but never replicate that output in the playoffs. Memphis, in particular, only has one playoff series win under their current core’s belt. Utah always looks great in the regular season and then finds a way to lose in the second round the playoffs. The Nuggets have one signature playoff run that happened in the 2020 NBA Bubble.

Both teams are getting a benefit of the doubt that Bulls haven’t been fortunate enough to receive. The only team that hasn’t been dominating that deserves such credit is the Golden State Warriors. Their core has won championships and play great against other elite teams, both in the regular season and postseason.

The Bulls are 22-14 in games where the score differential is less than five points in the final three minutes. They have the fifth-best offense in the league and an MVP candidate who leads the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring.

The disrespect this team has received throughout the year doesn’t make sense considering their on-court production, so it’s time to make the naysayers pay when everyone returns to full strength.

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