Recent Power Rankings Help Reveal the Bulls Biggest Competition for a Playoff Spot This Season

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Recent Power Rankings Help Reveal the Bulls Biggest Competition for a Playoff Spot This Season

Chicago Bulls

Way-too-early power rankings can be annoying. I get that.

But I think we’re at a point in the offseason, when it seems fair to go ahead an evaluate each team’s present situation and near-term outlook. After all, the free-agent market has been drained, big trades have been made and, for the most part, we know how the league will generally look heading into the 2019-2020 campaign.

Indeed, I’m even more anxious to dive into these posts this offseason, because with a refreshing change of approach throughout the summer, the Chicago Bulls have finally moved out of the bottom-feeder pack and into the “trending up” tier of teams throughout the league.

Here are three such power-rankings for your amusement.

Although the Bulls occupy the same spot across the board, the implications are a little different at each publication. In the Bleacher Report power rankings, for example, the Bulls fall one slot below the start of their “Playoff Contender” category. Last year’s playoff teams (the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons) follow immediately after the Bulls.

But hovering right around either of these teams is actually a nice compliment for the Bulls, especially compared to the other lists. ESPN and The Athletic, by contrast, have the Bulls behind the Atlanta Hawks who are No. 22 and the Minnesota Timberwolves who are at No. 21.

With that said, I tend to agree more with the latter forecast here. Having the Bulls in the same conversation as the Hawks feels appropriate. Both teams are on a rebuilding path centered around a young core, but the Hawks kind of feel one step ahead in the process. Sure, Atlanta will probably rely heavily on two rookies in Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter, but the team also has former Rookie of the Year candidate Trae Young and breakout star John Collins sitting on the roster.

Similarly, in the most recent CBS Sports power rankings, the Hawks sit one number ahead of the Bulls as well, but both teams are pushed back a spot at No. 23 and No 24, respectively.

Either way, if you’re hanging around the low 20’s, you aren’t making the playoffs. Right now, no matter the power rankings list shared, the following teams sit in front of the Bulls in the Eastern Conference (CBS, BR, ESPN, Athletic):

  • Orlando (17, 15, 19, 15)
  • Detroit (18, 21, 16, 19)
  • Indiana (12, 16, 15, 10)
  • Miami (21, 18, 14, 14)
  • Brooklyn (10, 13, 12, 11)
  • Toronto (16, 10, 10, 13)
  • Boston  (9, 9, 7, 12)
  • Philly (2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Milwaukee (4, 2, 1, 2)

Again, the Atlanta Hawks (23, 25, 22, 22) land in front of the Bulls in three out of the four power rankings shared.

The most interesting thing about these rankings must be the confidence in Miami. Two of the power rankings put the Heat as high as No. 14, even with most people throwing them into the conversation of teams competing for the No. 8 seed alongside the Bulls and Hawks.

This helps reveal with whom Chicago might really be in a dog-fight this season.

Obviously, the team will have to outperform the Hawks, but then next on the list appears to be the Detroit Pistons, with an average ranking of about 18.5. Miami does check-in with the next lowest ranking at 16.75, but it’s basically the exact same as Orlando at 16.5 on average. Also, the Heat have those two No. 14 rankings, which demonstrates a generally stronger positive vibe around the franchise right now.

If Chicago remains healthy and Zach LaVine can keep his numbers up, I can definitely see the Bulls beating out the Pistons, Hawks, and Heat (Orlando I actually think is going to be pretty good this year).

The Pistons have Griffin and Drummond (also D-Rose now *sigh*), but if one of those guys goes down (as we saw last season), the team will struggle to compete. As for the Hawks, the upward mobility of the Young-Collins duo is pretty terrifying, but they have a lot of youth and inexperience that they’ll be reliant on this season. As for the Heat, they have Jimmy Butler … and you literally NEVER know how that can turn out.

Also, the Bulls depth is arguably looking better than all three of these organizations right now, but each team has those star player who helps bump their rankings.

Overall, the No. 23 position feels fair at this moment in time. One of these Eastern Conference teams at the bottom is going to be better than expected, but the question just becomes which one? I know the Bulls are gaining some praise around the league, but these power rankings are providing a look back at reality. Just always remember, getting back into the playoffs isn’t going to be easy.

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.