Chicago Bulls: 3 Reasons why Bulls will be the surprise team of the Eastern Conference

Chicago Bulls duo (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bulls duo (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Why the Chicago Bulls could be the surprise team in the NBA. 

How do the numbers 37.5 and 9.5. tie to the Chicago Bulls?

37.5 is the projected regular season win total that both DraftKings Sportsbook and ESPN have the Chicago Bulls finishing with for the 2023-24 NBA season. 9.5 is the projected seed that DraftKings has the Bulls finishing within the Eastern Conference.

Most have the Bulls winning 37 to 38 games. ESPN has the Bulls outside the East’s top-10 altogether. As a long-time, die-hard Chicago Bulls fan I will put this lightly…

I disagree.

Will the Bulls be better than the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, or Philadelphia 76ers? Of course not. Do I believe that these Bulls are better than the Cleveland Cavaliers? Nope.

I do believe that the Bulls can compete with the other teams in the East. ESPN projects the remaining Eastern Conference playoff and/or Play-In teams to be the following, in order:

  • New York Knicks
  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Miami Heat
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Indiana Pacers

The Chicago Bulls were atop the Eastern Conference standings halfway through the 2021-22 season with basically the same roster. That didn’t happen by accident. Of course, that’s also when point guard Lonzo Ball went down with a knee injury.  Ball hasn’t played since.

The Bulls are still trying to identify his replacement.

This is a Bulls team that also should have been the East’s #8 seed a year ago, despite an underwhelming 2022-23 season. Chicago defeated the Raptors in their first Play-In game. They even held a lead against the Heat in Miami late in the 4th quarter. The Heat ended the game with a 15-1 run to send the Bulls home.

Imagine how much different last season’s Playoffs could have been if the Bulls held on.

The Bucks traded for Damian Lillard. The Celtics acquired Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis. The Sixers added Kelly Oubre, Jr., and Patrick Beverley, and got James Harden to show up to training camp. The Bulls added…

Jevon Carter, Torrey Craig, and a Turkish player named Onuralp Bitim.

And yet, here I am standing on my soapbox telling you that the Bulls are being slept on. I’m not telling you that Chicago will come out of the East. Even the most optimistic Bulls fan couldn’t say that with a straight face.

This team IS better than 37 wins and a 10th seed in the East though. In fact, the 2023-24 Chicago Bulls could be better than most people think. Let’s explore a few reasons why.