Following the conclusion of 2022’s offseason action, NBA.com offered its first official Power Ranking of the new season. Despite an unsavory finish to a rollercoaster season, the Chicago Bulls are ranked among several expected postseason returnees.
Coming in at sixth on this list, the Bulls are ranked behind only the defending champion Celtics, Bucks, 76ers, Heat, and Raptors. The Nets, Hawks, Cavaliers, and Knicks are next in line as the play-in tournament caliber of teams while the Wizards, Hornets, Pistons, Magic, and Pacers round out the teams expected to be participating in the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery.
This placement indicates the Bulls are expected to once again be vying for a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, and it’s honestly difficult to debate this ranking. There could be an argument made that the Bulls are better than Toronto when fully healthy, but the Raptors did finish last year with a better record and didn’t suffer an embarrassing late-season collapse. I’d much rather witness the Bulls climb these rankings once again than set lofty expectations before the season has even begun.
Here’s how NBA.com’s full Power Ranking shakes out following the offseason:
- Boston Celtics
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Miami Heat
- Toronto Raptors
- Chicago Bulls
- Brooklyn Nets
- Atlanta Hawks
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- New York Knicks
- Washington Wizards
- Charlotte Hornets
- Detroit Pistons
- Orlando Magic
- Indiana Pacers
In their first official power ranking since last season, NBA.com has the Chicago Bulls ranked as the 6th best team in the Eastern Conference.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com offered a detailed explanation for his placement of the Bulls in the sixth spot.
“Better health than they had last season will surely help the Bulls, especially on defense. They ranked 11th on that end of the floor before Alex Caruso was lost for nearly three months (with Lonzo Ball’s season-ending injury coming less than four weeks later), and Patrick Williams — who played in far fewer games (17) than Ball (35) or Caruso (41) — could be their most important defender going forward. Ball and Williams were opening-night starters, but played just 107 total minutes (in five games) together… Dragic and Drummond could help get more opportunities in transition and more shots at the rim, with the Bulls having ranked in the bottom eight in both of those categories last season. This team is deep, with the two additions joining 10 contributors from last season.”
The article points out that the Bulls lost no major rotation pieces this past summer and added veteran depth such as Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic, hopefully addressing the issues this team had with depth as the season progressed last year.
Chicago is also not a team prone to making mistakes, as Schuhmann mentions the Bulls had the second-best record in the NBA when leading at halftime (35-5) and the third-best record when leading by double digits at any point (38-7). The most telling stat of all the ones Schuhmann brings up, in my opinion, is that the Bulls were just one of three teams to rank top 10 in field goal percentage from the paint, the mid-range, and beyond the 3-point line.
The only other two teams to do so? Milwaukee and Phoenix.
For that reason, I’m not quite as skeptical about this team’s ability to make a Finals run as most. That being said, Chicago has yet to prove they can consistently beat the top teams in the East, and with the conference looking more competitive than it has in a very long time, that’s simply an unforgivable fault in the postseason.
Given time for the entire roster to recuperate and bounce back as a healthy unit, this will be a make-or-break season that ultimately may decide which direction the franchise takes moving forward.