Fans of the Chicago Bulls know the story of their 2022-23 season like the back of their hands by now. For much of the campaign, they have endured inconsistency upon inconsistency, which led to a few watershed moments in their season such as their locker room blow up at halftime during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in mid-December. Reports also came out saying that there has been discord between Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.

However, the Bulls played better since then, righting the ship just enough to remain in the play-in spots right before the trade deadline. Thus, after months of speculation, they decided to stand pat, holding onto their core as try to milk every ounce of competitive juice from their current core.

But that gambit has not worked out. The Bulls have now lost their past six games to fall into 11th in the Eastern Conference. To make matters worse, they have now officially ruled out Lonzo Ball for the rest of the season, much to the concern of Bulls fans.

Signing Patrick Beverley off the buyout market, while not needle-moving, should allow the Bulls to lean even further into their defensive identity this season. However, will their top-10 defense be enough to cover for their offensive deficiencies as they try to snap their losing streak following the NBA All-Star break?

Here are three bold predictions for how the final 25 percent of the Bulls’ season would turn out.

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3. Bulls improve their defense even further

Zach LaVine. DeMar DeRozan. Nikola Vucevic. Those three are the Bulls’ most important players. However, not a single fan would even think for a second that their defense is what makes them stars. It’s their offensive production that has given the trio a total of 10 All-Star selections for their careers.

But the Bulls’ defense is the only thing keeping them afloat at the moment. Allowing just 112.0 points per 100 possessions, the Bulls’ offense is the facet of their game betraying them at the moment. In particular, during their current losing streak, the Bulls have made just 45/170 triples – a putrid 26.4 percent.

Adding Patrick Beverley won’t move the needle much for the Bulls on the end of the court where they need the most help in. Beverley is averaging just 6.4 points per game on 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 34.8 percent from deep, not exactly awe-inspiring numbers.

However, Beverley gives the Bulls another strong defender alongside Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams. The 34-year old guard may have lost a step, but his tenacity should give the Bulls a much-needed identity they could lean on when the going gets rough.

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As such, the Bulls’ defense won’t drop off. In fact, they should keep on improving, cementing themselves as a top-five defensive outfit when the buzzer sounds on Game 82.

2. Patrick Williams, Coby White, and Dalen Terry end the season on a high note

What made selling such an enticing prospect for the Bulls was that they don’t particularly have blue-chippers waiting on the wings, ready to take over for their aging, mediocre core. Thus, nabbing draft picks for their veteran All-Stars would have given them a headstart in a potential rebuild. That may have been a disappointing outcome given the Bulls’ strong 2021-22 campaign, but better to face the music as soon as possible rather than delay the inevitable.

Nonetheless, the Bulls’ young guns have been making a case as of late that their future may not be as bleak as it seems.

Patrick Williams is slowly proving his two-way worth, even if his offensive game remains unpolished, Coby White is showing flashes of putting all his offensive tools together, while Dalen Terry, the 18th pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, is making the most of his minutes amid DeMar DeRozan’s injury troubles.

Expect these three to make a mini leap in the Bulls’ final 23 games as they try to salvage the campaign that’s slowly getting away from them.

1. Bulls reacquire their clutch gene, nab 8th seed

After the Bulls won 46 games last year, one would expect that they had a positive point differential. Nope: the Bulls had a negative point differential last season despite finishing five games above .500. They finished last season with a -0.39 point differential, which surprisingly, is a worse mark than their output this season thus far (they currently have a -0.29 differential at the time of writing).

One major culprit behind their fall-off this season has been their inability to sustain their incredible clutch performance during the 2021-22 campaign. Led by a few memorable game-winners from DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls won 25 of 41 clutch games, good for a 61 percent win rate, per In contrast, the Bulls have just nabbed 10 out of 30 victories in the clutch this season, the third-worst mark in the league, tied with the league’s worst team, the Houston Rockets.

Expect the Bulls’ fortunes in the clutch to even out as the season progresses, which would then end up with them nabbing the eighth and final seed in the playoffs to set up a date with the Boston Celtics.