Are the Bulls Placed Too Low in the Early Power Rankings?

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Are the Bulls Placed Too Low in the Early Power Rankings?

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls’ first eight games have been full of highs and lows.

The team has already handed losses to the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, two teams against whom they went a combined 1-6 last season. They are also fresh off a red-hot 4th quarter effort against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets, where Zach LaVine looked like the max player the Bulls signed him to be.

Conversely, a strong opening night was followed by a disappointing loss to the Washington Wizards. Then, an even stronger victory over the Celtics and a blowout win over the Indiana Pacers were followed by two-straight losses to the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers. It has all added up to a 4-4 record and a Net Rating that fits – fittingly – smack dab in the middle of the league at 15th.

The fact of the matter is that we still don’t truly know what Bulls team we’re going to get this season. And the early-season power rankings have certainly reflected that.

Despite some of their impressive wins, we haven’t seen the Bulls move up the leaderboard much during these first couple of weeks. The highest I’ve seen this week (on a mainstream platform) is at 16th on NBA dot com. They are sandwiched right between the Raptors (15th) and Knicks (17th). The Athletic put them one spot lower at 17th after previously having them at 18th. This slight bump did put them in the “play-in teams or better” tier, but it has them behind both the Knicks and Raptors.

Now, I should say that both sites published their latest rankings ahead of the team’s win over the Nets. However, considering Brooklyn’s 2-6 start to the year, I’m not so sure this lone victory would have had much of an impact on their placement. We know it sure didn’t for ESPN.

The Bulls check in with the lowest placement I’ve seen at No. 20 on ESPN. This has them one spot ahead of the Miami Heat (hooray!), but behind fellow Eastern Conference foes like the Wizards, Knicks, 76ers, and Hawks (boo!).

Again, considering we’re only eight games into the season and the Bulls sit at .500, I can’t strongly dispute ESPN’s lukewarm take. But I do think they’ll be forced to move them closer to the middle of the pack sooner than later. It’s still assumed that Zach LaVine will become more readily available as the season goes on (if not due to the removal of “injury management” than due to fewer back-to-back sets), and they have also technically shown that they can hang with some pretty decent teams.

I don’t know. I understand still being skeptical of this group, but they probably warrant a little more respect right now than a bottom-10 standing. Maybe they’ll change ESPN’s mind by next week.

Author: Elias Schuster

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