NBA 2023-2024 Preview: Are the Chicago Bulls’ Plans Unraveling?

Chicago Bulls NBA Preview 2023 2024 copie 9

As the NBA community ponders who will succeed the Nuggets as champions, our team analyzes all 30 NBA franchises over the month. Today, we turn our attention to the historic United Center to discuss the Chicago Bulls.

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2022/2023 Recap: No Point Guard, No Playoffs

The Bulls were among the least engaging teams to watch last season. With a laborious offense, apparent chemistry issues among players, and an overall lack of excitement, United Center fans had little to cheer for. The major blow for Chicago was Lonzo Ball missing the entire season. His role as a playmaker was pivotal to the Bulls’ strategy. Without his passing and game management abilities, the team’s offensive schemes became predictable, ranking them 24th in offensive rating.

This was particularly frustrating given that their defense was among the top five in the league. Their perimeter defense, led by Alex Caruso, was stellar, while the interior defense anchored by Patrick Williams and Vucevic proved to be effective despite the team’s low block count. However, the failure to maximize their offensive duo of Zach Lavine and Demar DeRozan meant the Bulls weren’t poised to advance past the play-in stage. They narrowly missed taking down the eventual finalists, the Miami Heat.

Offseason Moves for the Chicago Bulls in 2023-2024:

Departures:

  • Patrick Beverley (to 76ers)
  • Derrick Jones Jr. (to Mavericks)
  • Javonte Green (became a free agent)
  • Marko Simonovic (moved to Belgrade)
  • Lonzo Ball (out injured for the season)

Extensions:

  • Nikola Vucevic (3-year deal)
  • Ayo Dosunmu (3-year deal)
  • Coby White (3-year deal)

New Additions:

  • Jevon Carter (from Bucks)
  • Torrey Craig (from Suns)
  • Julian Philips (35th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft)

Chicago Bulls’ Starting Five:

Jevon Carter, Zach Lavine, Demar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic

Bench Rotation

  • Point Guards: Coby White, Carlik Jones, (Lonzo Ball – injured)
  • Shooting Guards: Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, Dalen Terry
  • Small Forwards: Torrey Craig, Julian Philips, Terry Taylor
  • Power Forwards: Adama Sanogo (on a two-way contract), Onuralp Bitim (on a two-way contract)
  • Centers: Andre Drummond

The Bulls have made a series of moves in the offseason, reinforcing their roster. The absence of Lonzo Ball for the entire season due to injury is a significant setback. However, with the additions and extensions, they look to find balance and depth, aiming for a better playoff run.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Chicago Bulls for the 2023-2024 NBA Season:

Weaknesses: Lack of Depth in the Frontcourt

While the Bulls are quite solid at the guard positions, boasting a deep and talented bench, their frontcourt is cause for concern. The primary worry is the lack of proven depth at the center position. Should either Drummond or Vucevic suffer an injury, the center spot would immediately become a significant vulnerability. As for the small forward and power forward positions, Torrey Craig seems to be the only reliable name coming off the bench. If rookie Julian Philips or any of the two-way contract players don’t step up, Chicago might find itself in a tight spot rather quickly.

Strengths: Explosive Offensive Trio

The offensive potential of Zach Lavine, Demar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic cannot be understated. Despite the team’s underwhelming offensive performance last season, there’s still a strong belief that this trio can emerge as one of the league’s premier offensive threats. The challenge has been coach Billy Donovan’s inability to optimize their collective output, with the offensive sets often appearing predictable. The key for the upcoming season will be diversifying offensive schemes, making better use of the supporting cast like Coby White and Patrick Williams, and finding the right rhythm to unleash the full potential of this star trio.

Player to Watch: Patrick Williams

After a truncated sophomore season, Patrick Williams embarked on his third NBA year under the radar. While he held his own defensively, his hesitancy on the offensive end saw him overshadowed by the likes of Lavine and DeRozan. This season, he needs to emerge as a genuine offensive threat. This will largely depend on his 3-point shooting ability, which has been among the most consistent in a team struggling from beyond the arc. After all, as a Top 4 draft pick, Williams can’t merely fade into the background on a mid-tier team.

Season Prediction: 11th in the East

The overarching question surrounding the Chicago Bulls remains: what’s the game plan? It appears that the management is trying to capitalize on that brief spell during the 2021/22 season when the team was soaring in the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference. Regrettably, since the loss of Lonzo Ball, the team’s ceiling has become evident. This season might well be the last hurrah for a project that likely reached its peak much earlier. Rumblings of a potential Zach Lavine trade seem to echo this sentiment. Given the bolstered competition, it’s hard to see the Bulls making significant strides this season.

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