Chicago Bulls: Why the latest playoff odds don’t matter

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

ESPN recently released the odds for each NBA team to make the 2018-2019 playoffs. The  Chicago Bulls are one of the biggest longshots in the league, but it shouldn’t really matter for this team.

The Chicago Bulls are hoping to have a better showing in the NBA next season. They finished the 2017-2018 NBA season with a 27-55 record. It was an attempt to tank for a top draft pick that didn’t work, and Bulls executive John Paxson has already said the team won’t be trying to tank again. That’s probably for the best.

The team made moves to strengthen the roster by adding Chicago-native Jabari Parker and re-signing guard Zach LaVine to a four-year, $79 million deal. The Bulls selected promising center Wendell Carter Jr. seventh overall in the 2018 NBA draft. With these new pieces in the lineup, it would be wise to play them at the same time as much as possible.

Despite showing a big effort to improve, many analysts and oddsmakers around the league don’t think the Bulls will be much better than they were last season. Most Vegas sportsbooks have the over/under of Bulls wins at 28 for next season. It’s a bit perplexing that experts think the Bulls won’t improve from a team that was tinkering with the lineup to have less talent on the floor.

That ESPN study, Basketball Power Index Playoff Odds, sets the Bulls chances of making the playoffs at 2.4 percent. This puts the team as having the fourth lowest odds of making the playoffs in the entire NBA. Despite all this, I genuinely believe this doesn’t matter and won’t change the team’s mindset.

First off, there are multiple interviews with Bulls players that say the team is definitely going to the playoffs. These guys believe in themselves and each other. They’re part of a team that’s trying to win again. Last year’s team wasn’t intentionally trying to lose, but the guys understood that the goal wasn’t to win. This positive mental attitude could give the team a boost in wins.

While I hope for a big increase in wins next year for the Bulls, it’s true that there is a lot of unknown with this team. There are the new pieces and the question of whether or not coach Fred Hoiberg can actually field a winning squad. He will also have the challenge of figuring out lineup combinations with some of the new arrivals.

The mystery surrounding how good this team will be could be a big reason why oddsmakers place the Bulls as big underdogs to improve next season. I still don’t think it matters. Yes, analysts and ESPN used analytics in their predictions. ESPN simulates the season 10,000 times a day to adjust the odds. Still, not having seen these players play together last season makes predictions tougher.

LaVine only played 24 games for the Bulls last year because he was recovering from a torn ACL. He now says he’s 100 percent healthy and ready to attack next season. Parker also had a limited season with the Milwaukee Bucks while recovering from a knee injury. With both these players healthy alongside rising stars like Carter and Lauri Markkanen, who knows how good they can be?

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I wish that Vegas and other analysts would believe in the Bulls a bit more, but I understand why they don’t. The team is still improving, and will most likely struggle on defense next season. They’re a very young roster. Despite all this, I still really think the team will make positive strides next year. Maybe it’s just the homer in me, but I see potential in this team.

I’m ready to see the Bulls compete again like they did in the prime of players like Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. It will be a process, and there will be growing pains along the way. But this team is ready to block out the noise around them and compete. Odds and predictions won’t really matter at the end of the day when that ball is tipped in October.