Another day is upon us, and we’ve been graced with yet another pessimistic article from ESPN regarding the Chicago Bulls’ chances in the upcoming NBA season. Operating like clockwork at this point, the media continues pushing the narrative that this team is beyond saving. They may be no contenders, but this roster led by DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine deserves far more respect than it’s been given.
This time around, ESPN has the Bulls projected to go 37-45, finishing in the bottom five of the Eastern Conference and missing not only the playoffs, but also the play-in tournament outright. It’s hard not to take this as an insulting overreaction to the way last year went when by all accounts, the Bulls have far more talent on their roster than the teams that are adjacent to them in these rankings.
Underestimating Chicago is practically par for the course at this point, as ESPN also estimated the Bulls to win only 38 games just last season. Of course, they did ultimately end up underperforming, but the notion that they’d finish below the likes of the Hornets and Wizards was always a preposterous idea. Even in 2021-22, when the Bulls won 46 games and were the East’s top team entering the New Year, ESPN predicted the team to finish 40-42 and miss the playoffs.
Here’s ESPN’s justification for Chicago’s horrid record projection this time around:
"“After a 40-42 season and a play-in loss to the eventual conference champion Heat, the Bulls are running it back by re-signing center Nikola Vucevic and guards Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu to their core of DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine. But our panel isn’t convinced in the strategy, leaving the Bulls on the outside of the playoffs for what would be the seventh time in the past 10 years.”"
ESPN is once again sleeping on the Bulls with their win projections for the 2023-24 season.
I’ve got to say, I’m a little bit perplexed as to how ESPN’s experts came to this conclusion. By all accounts, the Bulls were looking like a much-improved team down the stretch and should ideally be able to convert that success into something more akin to what we saw during the first 35 games of 2021-22. Unless they for some reason expect DeRozan to regress tremendously, there’s no real reason to project Chicago getting even worse next season.
Chicago joins a few other basement-dweller teams in the bottom five here, including the Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, and Washington Wizards. Toronto is projected to finish just one game behind the Bulls, while the other three find themselves firmly entrenched in the draft lottery.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raptors or Pistons outperform these projections either, but I still feel fairly confident the Bulls should finish quite a bit ahead of either of these teams when all is said and done — and possibly even a few ahead of Chicago in the projections. A few teams such as the Knicks, Hawks, and Nets are all teams the Bulls should be able to compete with, while others like the Pacers and Magic have no business being ranked ahead of Chicago in the first place.
Even at their worst, the Bulls still managed a 40-42 record and came within two minutes of eliminating the eventual Eastern Conference champions in the play-in tournament. Even if the Bulls aren’t true contenders just yet, the media may regret disrespecting an otherwise solid team that has addressed its need at point guard and added a few interesting pieces this offseason.