While people were quick to give the Chicago Bulls recognition for their big moves in free agency this summer, the respect has lagged behind. Many pre-season predictions and projections took the cautious approach with the new-look Bulls, with most publications and evaluators still placing the team in the bottom half of the league. ESPN ranked Chicago as the 19th-best team and 10th in the Eastern Conference. NBA dot com and NBA Insider Marc Stein were a bit more kind, putting the Bulls 8th in the East and 15th in the league, respectively.
Still, I think it is fair to say skepticism was the main theme among the national media this offseason when it came to the Bulls’ potential. And while opening week has not taken away the handful of question marks for this team, it has clearly made some folks feel a lot more bullish on the Bulls (pun totally intended).
Take a look:
That’s more like it, folks!
We probably should keep in mind that every site has a different way of doing things. For example, Sports Illustrated seems to be focused primarily on immediate results as opposed to including the bigger picture. While I am feeling plenty high on this Bulls team after an undefeated Week 1, I’m not even ready to admit they are the 6th-best team in the NBA. But the broader takeaway from these first four power rankings is that the Bulls took complete advantage of their first three games, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
To be clear, no one is denying that Chicago had it easy last week. Two matchups with the Detroit Pistons and one against the banged-up New Orleans Pelicans is a more than gracious gift from the NBA for this revamped roster. At the same time, the Bulls didn’t just win these games … they cruised. The opening night battle with Detroit may have been closer than some expected, but Chicago eventually outscored the Pistons by double-digits in the second half to take control. Then, over the following two contests, the Bulls extended their lead to as much as 30 points behind a blizzard of highlight dunks, big blocks, and spectacular playmaking.
So while the opponents may have not been impressive, the way Chicago handled them was. They looked the part of a playoff-caliber team, which is why it’s impossible to do anything but consider them among that group for the time being. Will we be saying the same thing next week after the schedule significantly ramps up? We’ll see, but I’m glad to see the Bulls finally getting some of the respect they deserve.