The Chicago Bulls went for it. You can disagree with some of the moves they made this offseason, but you can’t fault the front office for lack of trying (shoutout to the Blazers) as they head into a critical season for franchise face Zach LaVine.
The team already made a splash before last season’s trade deadline, acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. That move also paved the way for the Bulls to land DeMar DeRozan, who admitted he and his fellow USC Trojan Vooch have been trying to team up for years. The team also landed Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball, while keeping a handful of young pieces to balance out the veteran additions.
There are many questions surrounding this roster, and plenty of them are valid. But if things click better than everyone expects, I’d argue that this team has what it takes to compete for an NBA title as early as this year. Here are three (3) reasons why the Chicago Bulls are stealth contenders this coming season.
Three (3) Reasons Bulls are Stealth Contenders
#1 – Zach LaVine is better than you think he is
Zach LaVine has developed into a spectacular individual talent in his three and a half seasons with the Chicago Bulls. Last season, he took it to another level. He averaged 27.4 points per game, good for seventh in the entire NBA. But what stands out is the fact that he was hyper efficient in getting his buckets, despite being mostly a one-man show on the Bulls.
LaVine shot over 50% from the field and well over 40% from the three-point line as a volume perimeter scorer. That’s not something to scoff at, folks.
However, the glaring reason he’s been overlooked is simple. After seven seasons in the league, Zach LaVine has never been to the NBA playoffs. Despite posting massive numbers with great percentages, many point to that one large caveat to label him a losing player, a good stats-bad team kind of guy.
But once upon a time that was exactly the same way people viewed Devin Booker. Then after one magical run to the NBA Finals, suddenly the narrative around Book has shifted completely. After their offseason shopping spree, what’s stopping the Chicago Bulls from being next season’s Phoenix Suns?
Granted the Bulls don’t have Chris Paul walking through the tunnel next season. But their additions could have a similar effect to what CP3 brought to Phoenix.
#2 – The Bulls’ star power is being slept on
There’s obviously no statistical argument to be made for a team that has too many incoming parts to quantify. But the fact remains that the Bulls now have three legitimate All-Stars on their roster. They may not be as top-heavy as the trio that the Brooklyn Nets have, but Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic have all consistently shown the ability to produce as primary options on their own teams.
They also come with a lot less drama and injury concerns, which is what decided these past NBA playoffs. Are they favored to beat the Brooklyn Nets in a seven-game series? Definitely not. But as we’ve seen from the Milwaukee Bucks this past year, a few breaks your way could be the difference, and your team better be there to capitalize on them.
The challenge becomes how Billy Donovan can maximize his stars to the fullest. But honestly speaking, it’s probably going to be a good problem to have. Zach LaVine has never had as many offensive threats on the floor alongside him in his career. With less defensive pressure on him, this feels like a surefire All-NBA season for the 26-year-old and a chance to show that his firepower is more than just for show.
There were a few speed bumps in integrating Nikola Vucevic after the trade to acquire him in late March, but a full offseason and training camp should help the chemistry develop even further.
Then there’s the rest of the supporting cast. Patrick Williams, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso provide the perfect defensive complements to the offensive fireworks that their headliners bring to the table. All three feel like the ideal weapons to deploy against opposing star players of all shapes and sizes.
If everything clicks for this team, they have the right mix of high-efficiency scoring, defensive versatility, and a potential top-10 player to become the next real threat nobody saw coming.
There are no guarantees that the Chicago Bulls will be a top seed in the NBA just yet. But they have all ingredients they need to get there. It’s just a matter of figuring out the best winning recipe with the talent that they have.