The disparity in the Bulls 2019 projections continues, but it’s tough not to be happy about where they’re headed. Well, that is … depending on where you look.
When considering the betting odds specifically, Sportsbook USA provides the most optimistic total, setting the Bulls over/under … at just 33.5. If you step away from the ponies though, other algorithm-based projections (like FiveThirtyEight and ESPN) have the Bulls substantially better off.
FiveThirtyEight, for example, has the Bulls winning 37 games this season, while ESPN offers the highest projection we’ve seen so far with an estimated average of 39.3 victories. Woo! That’s a lot better than last year, and could be just enough to keep them in the playoff conversation until the end of the regular season.*
To that end, ESPN also offered the percent chance each team has at making the playoffs this year, and the Bulls sit almost dead center at 49 percent. If you look at the complete Eastern Conference list, the Bulls sit with the No. 9 seed, just outside the playoffs behind the Brooklyn Nets.
ESPN is not alone on the Bulls finishing the season in this general vicinity. Unfortunatly, on average, Chicago is expected to finish with approximately 37 wins, which means they’ll likely be in the playoff race, but ultimately just miss the mark:
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) August 18, 2019
Projections by ESPN and Goldstein are two of the more recent ones out there, and these also happen to be two of the most favorable for the Bulls. Each has the team in the conversation for a playoff spot, with Goldstein actually giving the Bulls the 8th seed with a 55 percent chance.
It may not feel like the Bulls projections are really all that different, missing the playoffs is missing the playoffs. However, I’d argue that winning 33 games and sitting around dead-last in the East versus winning 39 games and playing meaningful basketball into April is pretty darn different for where this Bulls franchise is right now and where they’re hoping to be in a year or two.
Nevertheless, I think it’s worth a warning: take all these projections with a grain of salt. Things can change, players can over and underperform, and a lot of the most important factors aren’t entirely quantifiable. But still, if most publications can see the Bulls competing for the postseason this year, we can at least call that progress.
*For an exact look at how ESPN derived their projection (they started with RPM, did a bunch of other stuff, and then ran 10,000 simulations) you can go look at the full article here.