The Chicago Bulls Have Started the Season as One of the Most Balanced Teams in the NBA

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The Chicago Bulls Have Started the Season as One of the Most Balanced Teams in the NBA

Chicago Bulls

I hate to start this post with a buzzkill disclaimer, but I was raised to be a responsible human being (curse you, father!). Let’s remember we are SEVEN games into an 82-game season. Drawing conclusions based on the current data is not the wisest idea, especially when we consider NBA powerhouses like the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, and Brooklyn Nets are all barely .500 clubs.

The sample size is simply too small to have a strong read on the direction of either conference, and that’s okay! The unpredictability of this league is what makes it so dang entertaining, and the NBA season is bound to have its ebbs and flows.

Now, none of that is to say we can’t assess early-season results and think about where they might lead us. A strong start is a strong start, and there is no question it could be an early sign of what’s to come. And, with that in mind, let me finally state what’s teased in the title: The Chicago Bulls (6-1) have strung together one of the hottest starts in the NBA.

We all had reason to scratch our heads after the first week of the season considering the competition. Two games against the 1-5 Pistons and one against the 1-6 Pelicans is a pretty generous way to tip-off the year. However, one tight loss to the Knicks and three wins over the Raptors, Jazz, and Celtics later, it’s starting to feel like the product we saw the Bulls put on the floor during the first few games of the season could have legitimate staying power. Why? Because they have done it on both ends of the floor.

Again, it’s early, but we all know balanced teams are the most successful teams in the NBA, and few teams have been more balanced than the Chicago Bulls. According to Synergy’s latest efficiency landscape, the Bulls sit with the Jazz and Heat as three of the most well-rounded squads in the league.

*Note: The chart below was published before the victory over the Boston Celtics

The Bulls currently rank top-10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, bringing their overall net rating to 8.7, which is 4th-best in the league, per NBA Stats. This balanced attack is exactly what helped the team take down the NBA’s 3rd-best defense in Utah and force a historic comeback against the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

I do think it’s hard not to picture the team’s net rating dropping as nine of the next 10 games are against 2020-21 playoff teams, but I also feel encouraged that we may not see things fall too far. Part of the reason is because of exactly what the Bulls showed against the Celtics. Even when things look destined for a drop-off, they have shown a newfound resilience that only a roster jam-packed with All-Star talent can offer. I also can not help but think that even if the team’s defense begins to struggle against a stretch of NBA superstars, it’s more than possible we see the offense take a sizable step in the right direction. In fact, I think that should be arguably the scariest thing to opposing teams about the new-look Bulls.

Nikola Vucevic has gotten off to a slow start with a less-than-stellar 39.6 clip from the field, but do we believe the 49.5 percent career shooter and versatile big man will not level out? Likewise, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan have only looked more comfortable in their respective roles over the past several games, each scoring at least 20 points in the previous four contests. The Bulls’ halfcourt offense has also already seen a jump in its production the previous three games despite matchups with much-improved defenses.

Cleaning the Glass had Chicago 20th in halfcourt offense over its first three games of the season. However, after big-time performances against the Raptors, Knicks, Jazz, and Celtics, Chicago has jumped to averaging the league’s 7th-most points per play in the halfcourt and 2nd-best points per possession in transition. Oh, and I guess it would not hurt to mention that it’s also only a matter of time before sparkplug scorer Coby White is expected to rejoin the rotation.

In other words, combine the Bulls improving offense with the clear effort on the defensive side of the ball, and it’s hard not to believe they will continue to be one of the more balanced teams in the league. I know, anything can happen over the next couple of weeks, but the early signs of execution on both ends of the court should bode well for the long-term success of this team. I will now proceed to knock aggressively on wood. Join me!



Author: Elias Schuster

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