I would consider myself relatively realistic about where the Chicago Bulls could finish this season.
As much as I’d love to sit here and say they easily secure a top-6 seed and improve on last season’s mark, I can’t in the wake of multiple Eastern Conference improvements and Lonzo Ball’s injury news. Instead, I’ve accepted that there is a pretty wide range of outcomes for this team.
Could they end up competing for a top spot thanks to dominant offensive play from their core and a breakout from Patrick Williams? Sure! Might the absence of Ball and the defensive shortcomings of this roster send them into the Play-In Tournament? I could see it. Anywhere between 1-10 feels like it might as well be in play for the 2022-23 Bulls. But ESPN says otherwise.
Kevin Pelton released a stat-based win projection for all 30 NBA teams. The goal was to factor in injury trouble and estimate an expected win total, and he explained how he went about that process below:
Mine are based on a combination of my SCHOENE player projections for box score stats as well as three-year, luck-adjusted Regularized Adjusted Four Factors (RAPM) from NBAshotcharts.com. I estimate games played based on those missed over the past three years then make subjective predictions for playing time.
The result is an expected wins total based on average health luck. Because some teams will have better or worse fortune, but we don’t know which ones, the average totals will inevitably be closer to .500 than the actual final standings.
The fact that injuries were factored into the equation is likely bound to hurt this Chicago team, but I’d still be lying if I said Pelton’s final projection didn’t cause me to do a spit-take.
According to his algorithm, the Bulls are expected to secure just 38.1 wins and finish 12th in the Eastern Conference. The only teams to finish worse than that are the Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, and Detroit Pistons. In other words, teams like the Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, and New York Knicks are all projected to finish with more wins than a Bulls unit that claimed the 6th seed last season. I know … blasphemous!
Now, could catastrophic injuries pile up causing the ship to sink that deep? I guess so. But, even then, I feel like the front office might act at the trade deadline to ensure this roster gets the help it needs. Regardless, I think there is too much talent and depth on this roster for them not to at least maintain a presence in the postseason picture. Perhaps I’m wrong for thinking that … but I really don’t think I am.
Anyway, you can check out the full list of projections below. I can promise you that the Bulls aren’t the only surprise: