The Athletic ranks six Chicago Bulls players in NBA Top 125 list

Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Now that the dust of free agency has begun to settle, we can finally begin to imagine just how the NBA landscape may look next season. If there’s one thing fans love to occupy themselves with during the summer, it’s definitely arbitrary lists and rankings. Fortunately, this year’s rankings should finally be kind to the Chicago Bulls after a much-improved season and impressive finish in a very competitive Eastern Conference.

Seth Partnow of The Athletic has offered his take on things and officially released his NBA Top 125 list for the 2022-23 season. Six Chicago Bulls players make an appearance, which is a pleasant surprise compared to recent years.

Here are the six players that qualified for this year’s list:

  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Zach LaVine
  • Lonzo Ball
  • Nikola Vucevic
  • Alex Caruso
  • Ayo Dosunmu

While these six players chosen are very agreeable, their placement on the NBA Top 125 is what’s worth debating here.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Chicago Bulls have a roster deep enough to feature six players in The Athletic’s NBA Top 125.

Vucevic, Caruso, and Dosunmu all come in on the lowest tier in this list, each ranked somewhere in the 85 to 125 range. Partnow says these players were chosen because, “[they] provide some additional championship equity on top of their ‘everyday’ production, but only a minor amount.

Other notable players in this range include RJ Barrett, Clint Capela, Julius Randle, and Kyle Kuzma, which is certainly not bad company to be keeping. Partnow even specifically mentions Alex Caruso‘s placement here, citing that complementary skills are more important to championship teams than low-efficiency shot creation.

Lonzo finds himself a tier higher here, between 60 and 84. Alongside players like Tyrese Haliburton, Tobias Harris, and Aaron Gordon, Partnow defines Lonzo as a “Connector”. Partnow elaborates on what exactly that means, “In general, [Connector] refers to guys who somewhat bridge the gap between their teams’ primary initiator star and the completely teammate-dependent role players. These are guys who can do a little bit of everything.” It’s hard to disagree with Partnow, as this definition encapsulates exactly what role Ball plays for the Bulls.

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are the two highest-ranked Chicago Bulls, both being placed in the 25 to 32 tier. This tier also includes Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell, Draymond Green, Pascal Siakam, Jamal Murray, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Partnow offers an especially glowing review for DeRozan here.

"“The cherry on top of his production last season was his tremendous clutch performance. According to, DeRozan’s performance in clutch situations netted the Bulls 5.8 additional wins, more than double the figure of the next-best player (Gary Trent Jr. at 2.7 wins added. Nikola Jokic’s +2.6 and Steph Curry’s +2.5 were also top 5 marks). DeRozan’s 165 shot attempts in the clutch led the league as well, while his 61.8 effective field goal percentage on those attempts was fourth among the 50 players with at least 72 clutch attempts. In terms of helping Chicago win games, he was enormously impactful.”"

However, he expresses doubt in DeRozan’s ability to replicate this performance. To which I say, good! DeMar obviously entered last season with a goal in mind to prove the doubters wrong, so a little more fuel added to the fire can’t hurt. He’s similarly dismissive of LaVine, who I believe is at minimum a top 25 player in today’s NBA when healthy.

Entering the 2022-23 season, I feel very comfortable about DeRozan and LaVine’s ability to outperform these shallow expectations. That task becomes even more manageable with the aforementioned solid supporting cast at their side.

Factor in the veteran experience of Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic as well as the possibility that Patrick Williams, Coby White, or Dalen Terry outperform expectations, I’d say these Chicago Bulls are far more formidable than The Athletic is letting on.

Next. Have the Bulls actually improved this summer?. dark