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ESPN’s Updated Power Rankings Pick Bulls as the 6th-Worst Squad in the East

Chicago Bulls

When PointsBet put the Chicago Bulls over/under win total at 39.5 for this upcoming season, we knew people around the country were taking a wait-and-see approach at this new-look roster. And ESPN chose to (rudely) remind us of this on Monday when they released their post-free agency power rankings.

ESPN currently slates the Bulls as the league’s 19th-best team, which is certainly one way of saying it. Another way would be only one seed better than they were at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Here is a complete look at how they rank the East:

1. Brooklyn Nets
2. Milwaukee Bucks
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Miami Heat
5. Atlanta Hawks
6. Boston Celtics
7. New York Knicks
8. Charlotte Hornets
9. Indiana Pacers
10. Chicago Bulls 
11. Toronto Raptors
12. Washington Wizards
13. Detroit Pistons
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
15. Orlando Magic

While ESPN did not share records for each team, this does place them one spot worse in the standings when compared to PointsBet’s projected win totals.

A tenth-place finish in the East would at least give Chicago a chance to crack the playoffs as a road team in the play-in tournament. But they would still be the lowest-ranked seed in the conference and have to win two games (on the road) only to earn the right to battle a likely monstrous No. 1 seed. In other words, I think it’s safe to say that a full season of Nikola Vucevic combined with the additions of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso surely sets the bar far higher internally. After all, the Bulls were only a handful of games from the 10-seed this season with a far more problematic roster. I also have to imagine this front office has some concerns that barely sniffing the playoffs would not be enough to keep Zach LaVine from weighing other options in free agency.

Now, with that said, the Bulls did rise four spots in these power rankings since the end-of-season iteration. A four-point jump in the standings was the largest of any team due to their free-agency transactions (h/t Matt Peck). So the lack of recognition is not completely absent, and I do understand that it can be hard to jump a team even more significantly without seeing them take the court.

Still, these rankings feel like another piece of skepticism to file in the “motivation” folder. The Bulls will start the season with a good chance to hit the ground running with their first four games of the regular season against fellow teams that missed the playoffs last season (Pistons, Pelicans, Pistons, and Raptors). If Billy Donovan’s crew can take care of business early on, even if it’s not against top-seeded talent, I expect we see the Bulls begin to rise even further up the ranks.



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is a writer for Bleacher Nation and a human being. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.