The beginning of the Chicago Bull’s 2023-24 NBA Season should make Chicago Bulls fans feel optimistic. It should feel like a fresh start. It should feel like anything is possible.
Unfortunately, those positive feelings have been poisoned by a feeling of impending doom due to an overwhelming sense of déjà vu.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t we all seen this movie before?
Instead of rehauling the roster or the coaching staff after a disappointing one-step-forward-two-steps-back season that ended with an unceremonious elimination courtesy of the Miami Heat as well as Billy Donovan’s poor coaching in the play-in tournament, Chicago Bulls GM Artūras Karnišovas gambled on the third time being the charm.
Do the 2023-24 Chicago Bulls have any hope of making the 2024 NBA Playoffs?
With the return of Lonzo Ball being ruled out, the Chicago Bulls will bank on stability, development, good health, and added shooting from our new additions to get over the hump this season.
That all sounds fine on paper, but for those who have been following along over the last two years, it feels like another exhausting exercise in futility by Jerry Reinsdorf’s Bulls.
The current version of the Bulls peaked in Year 1 with Lonzo Ball at the helm. They’ve been unable to reach those heights ever since. Prior to Ball’s injury, the Bulls were 27-13. Since Ball’s injury, the Bulls are 59-65.
With two isolation-heavy players on the court, the Bulls benefit immensely from good point-guard play. In my opinion, that’s why the Chicago Bulls would benefit most from a Coby White breakout.
For once, Billy Donovan didn’t disappoint me as White seems to be locking up the role of starting point guard. With his explosive scoring ability, the Chicago Bulls starting five will have a much higher ceiling.
The man whom the Bulls front office would most like to take that next step is forward Patrick Williams. While the initial comparisons to Kawhi Leonard were, in retrospect, extremely unfair to Williams, the ugly truth is that Williams has disappointed to this point in his career.
Still, the National Basketball Association is where the greatest basketball players in the world play. More often than not, the game comes down to which team’s stars made the most plays in the clutch.
That’s what brings me to my final key to a Chicago Bulls playoff run. As the best basketball player on the Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine needs to turn in a career-best year and realize his full potential at last.
It is easy to forget that LaVine is now a ten-year vet. In the last two years, he became a two-time All Star and reached the playoffs for the first time. Now fully healthy and equipped with a decade’s worth of experience, LaVine is currently the basketball equivalent of a coiled rattlesnake.
LaVine’s inspired play last season was not talked about nearly enough. He took over multiple games as an efficient scoring machine despite being less than 100% most of the year. The debate over who the alpha was between LaVine and DeRozan was quickly put to rest by Zach’s play.
It’s a shame how underappreciated Zach LaVine is as a Chicago athlete. He is the greatest pure scorer not named Michael Jordan in franchise history, no doubt in part because he is the greatest three-point shooter in franchise history, Michael included.
The numbers don’t lie. Zach LaVine is one of the Top 10 Chicago Bulls of All Time.
Despite his accomplishments and his loyalty, Zach LaVine remains a polarizing figure in Bulls fan debates where his detractors have labeled him as an “empty calories” player, a term meant to describe a player who racks up stats but doesn’t affect wins.
I’m sure LaVine has heard all of the doubts and criticisms, so I fully expect him to come out of the gates with a chip on his shoulder and ready to prove a point. If Coby White and Patrick Williams can follow his lead, perhaps the feeling of impending doom that lingers will vanish.
Will that happen? Well, probably not because this is a Chicago sports team, but I’m eager to find out. Tough decisions need to be made and the stakes have never been higher to perform and improve on last season.
So, do the Chicago Bulls have hope? Can they make a playoff run?
Maybe, probably not, who knows? Regardless, I’m buckled in tight. Basketball is back and the Bulls are currently tied for first place in the East! Anything can happen!
It can’t get any worse than the Chicago Bears… right?