More and More People Are Buying What the Bulls are Selling

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More and More People Are Buying What the Bulls are Selling

Chicago Bulls

Like the time I flipped my desk in the middle of math glass because stupid Jason said I wouldn’t, the Chicago Bulls have proven most of their haters wrong to start the regular season.

While their undefeated start came in question after two quick matchups with the Detroit Pistons and one against the New Orleans Pelicans, the team has taken care of numerous top-tier and superstar-packed teams. Wins over the Utah Jazz, Bostons Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, and Dallas Mavericks have made the Bulls 8-3 start one worth recognizing, and we have started to see plenty of that this week.

Chicago continues to get plenty of respect in power rankings across the league. The Athletic ranked the team 12th while NBA dot com had them as the 9th-best squad, but both lists were also released prior to the team’s victory over the Nets and Mavericks this week, likely implying they’re bound for a boost. Meanwhile, Bleacher Reports’ latest (released after this week’s two victories) has bumped Chicago all the way up to the No. 2 spot in the league, putting them right behind the 10-1 Golden State Warriors.

While a top-2 ranking certainly feels ambitious, if we are simply considering the play up until this point (sans injuries/future potential), it is hard to deny the Bulls have been worthy of a top-5 slot. The team sits 2nd in the Eastern Conference, and their 7.2 Net Rating is 3rd in the NBA behind only the Warriors and Jazz. There is no way around it … that’s damn good.

More encouraging than a set of power rankings, however, is the number of analysts and prominent NBA names who have started to turn the tide. ESPN recently asked pundits which team’s early success is the most sustainable and Bobby Marks, Kevin Pelton, and Ohm Youngmisuk all named Chicago as the team to watch.

The Bulls, who have a nice combination of scorers, playmakers, veterans and young and hungry guys who are relentless,” Youngmisuk wrote. “They might not maintain the best record in the East, but they are going to be a top-five team. DeRozan has been an incredible fit and has started the season off on fire. Lonzo Ball should only get more comfortable with his new teammates and LaVine and Vucevic should continue to benefit. They play defense, play hard and play together. Chicago doesn’t look like it’s going away.

Even better, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps has started to call himself out for his ice-cold preseason take. The reporter became quite the popular face among receipt-keeping Bulls fans who have shared his comments about this new-look Bulls team potentially missing the play-in tournament repeatedly. But, 11 games in, Bontemps started to turn the tide on a recent episode of The Hoops Collective Podcast.

“Look, I was critical of what the Bulls did this offseason and the Bulls fans have been coming at my neck, which is far because they have been awesome … They have been off to a great start, they have been fun to watch, and it’s been a pretty cool story,” Bontemps told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

The recently retired JJ Redick has also started to buy into what the Bulls are selling. The sharpshooter had a great interview with Alex Caruso on his podcast The Old Man & The Three earlier this week, and he told the Bulls defensive pest that he thinks the Bulls have a “pretty high ceiling,” and he can now consider himself a “believer” (more like BULLIEVER … AMIRITE!?).

All things considered, keeping this league-wide optimism high over the next handful of games could be tough. With Nikola Vucevic in quarantine and five-straight road games against playoff-caliber opponents, there will be room for a slight step back from this Bulls team. Even if that happens, though, the Bulls have at least built themselves a cushion of respect around the league. Opponents, fans, and analysts alike have all seen what this squad is capable of, and taking them lightly when they come to town is no longer an option.

Right, Stever Kerr?

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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.