Chicago Bulls are a good story, but should not be considered contenders

DeMar DeRozan (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
DeMar DeRozan (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Chicago Bulls are a good story but are not a contender. 

Through the first half of the season, there may not have been a better story in the Eastern Conference than the upstart Chicago Bulls. On January 8, the Bulls were 26-10 as they sat atop the conference standings with a three-game cushion over the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets.

However, since then, the Bulls have been anything but consistent.

Since early January, the Bulls are just 17-20 and have fallen all the way to fifth in the conference standings. after such a hot and impressive start to the season, there’s a very real chance that the Bulls could be subjected to a first-round playoff loss – something that no one would’ve predicted just a couple of months ago.

What changed for the Chicago Bulls?

While it’s easy to pile on the Bulls, especially after all the money they spent in the offseason in acquiring Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, I don’t think you can tell the entire story of this team without a bit of context.

I’m not sure you can entirely blame the Bulls’ recent step back on injuries but it also wouldn’t be fair to not consider it. Lonzo Ball hasn’t played since January 14. Alex Caruso, another one of the team’s key offseason acquisitions, missed nearly two months of the season from January 21 to mid-March. Zach LaVine has also missed 13 games this season.

The Bulls have been derailed by injury over the last couple of months of the season and failed to respond as a unit. And, at a certain point, the injuries become too much to overcome and the depth finally reverted to the mean.

Heading into the postseason, there’s a good chance that Chicago will have to go the rest of the way without Ball. I’m not sure it would be fair to expect the Bulls to inflict much damage, if any, in the postseason without their point guard.

For as good as DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have been for the Bulls this season, it’s the wholeness of this team that was the true game-changer. The Bulls have been a good story this season.

Chicago made a strong effort in the offseason to expedite their build. Through the first half of the season, the results couldn’t be argued with.

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The Bulls are not a legit contender in the Eastern Conference. They shouldn’t be judged on that scale. They’ve been a good story. but this team has some big questions to answer during the offseason.