After starting the season off to an encouraging 7-3 record just a year ago, many Chicago Bulls fans were likely hoping to be in a better position than 5-5 through 10 games this time around. Fret not, because I believe the Bulls’ performance in this early stretch is just as encouraging, if not more so, than what we saw from last year’s roster.
Not counting games played against the Bulls, Chicago’s opponents have achieved a combined record of 38-39. Considering slow starts from Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Miami, this otherwise middling mark shows just how difficult the Bulls have had it to start the season.
That hasn’t stopped them from piling on wins, however, as the Bulls have emerged victorious in half of their games. Most importantly, they’ve done it convincingly, with an impressive average margin of victory of 13.8 points. No team has finished within 7 points in games the Bulls have won, indicating these wins haven’t come on the back of sheer dumb luck.
On the other hand, the Bulls have suffered their five losses at an average margin of defeat of 9.6 points per game. However, this number drops all the way down to 4 points per game if you exclude the lone outlier which was a 128-96 blowout at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers; the Bulls have yet to lose any other game by more than 5 points. This team’s ability to keep things close down the wire bodes extremely well for their chances to outpace Vegas’ predicted win total.
Currently possessing a 5-5 record, this year’s Chicago Bulls have been anything but average.
Watching the games, it’s easy to see how this roster has improved from top to bottom. Ayo Dosunmu continues to develop and Nikola Vucevic is doing everything we wanted to see from him last year. Javonte Green is leading the bench unit in making strides in his game over the summer, but the entire second unit has proven to be much more effective this season. Of course, new free additions Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic have played a large part in this.
Don’t believe the eye test? That’s fine, as the advanced analytics are looking favorably on the Bulls right now as well. Chicago is tied with Boston with a 2.0 net rating, good for 9th best in the NBA. Once LaVine returns to his full capabilities, we can expect their 18th-best offense to bounce back and improve their net rating even further.
It’s also worth mentioning the Bulls have achieved this mark while being significantly undermanned. We’re a mere 10 games into the season, but only six Bulls players have been available for every game thus far.
Chicago has already missed out on three games from LaVine, another three from Coby White, and an additional four games from Drummond — who has been a pleasant surprise and immediately impactful for the Bulls. Of course, the Bulls are still awaiting news from point guard Lonzo Ball, after head coach Billy Donovan expressed his optimism regarding Lonzo’s recovery process and odds of returning to the court sometime this season.
Once this team is finally firing on all cylinders, I have little doubt in my mind the Chicago Bulls can once again sneak their way into the conversation with the NBA’s elite.