How Do the Bulls' Chances at a Top 4 Pick Compare to Their Chances to Make the Playoffs?

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How Do the Bulls’ Chances at a Top 4 Pick Compare to Their Chances to Make the Playoffs?

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls can not underestimate the significance of the upcoming trade deadline.

Times like these are when NBA teams draw a line in the sand. They must make critical decisions that can influence their trajectory for years to come. The Bulls, in particular, need to decide whether or not a playoff push with the current core outweighs the value of taking a step backward to retool.

For the time being, it appears they are leaning toward the former.

In all fairness, this isn’t the easiest decision to make. The fact the Bulls sent a 2023 first-round draft pick to the Orlando Magic does add a wrinkle to this season’s situation. If the team isn’t in control of that selection, then it could make more sense to get players on this roster more postseason experience and shrink the overall value of that pick.

Having said that, the reason we can say “if the team isn’t in control” is because they have genuinely put themselves in a position where having control is possible. Well, let me clarify, at least roughly as possible as making the playoffs.

Indeed, when we look at some of the most popular playoff and draft projections around the NBA universe, the Bulls have roughly even odds to make the postseason or earn the No. 4 overall pick.

  • Tankathon currently gives Chicago a 31.9 percent chance at landing in the top 4 since they have the 7th-worst record in the NBA. If they allow the Raptors – who are one game worse – to surpass them, those odds increase all the way to 37.2 percent (which is one big reason we need to keep our eye on Toronto … more here).
  • As for the team’s playoff probability, Basketball Reference currently gives the Bulls just a 33.2 percent chance of cracking the playoffs.
  • FiveThirtyEight is even less kind to Chicago, handing their roster just a 22 percent chance of locking in a top 8 seed.

Look, would it suck if the Bulls bottomed out only to hand Orlando another high lottery pick? Absolutely. But there is a chance that happens regardless of whether or not they don’t change anything and try to aim for the playoffs.

Not to mention, what if the Bulls do improve their lottery odds and it works? I don’t know about you, but I think having a top-4 pick in this draft could prove a lot more valuable long-term than earning the 8 seed and losing in the first round. This becomes especially true if the plan is already to shake up the roster in the offseason.

Originally, I had tried not to think about this year’s first-rounder at all. In my brain, it was as good as gone and the Bulls were right to strive for the postseason. But, as this season has shown, a lot can change in a short amount of time. If the Bulls didn’t have almost an equal opportunity to make the playoffs as they do earn a top-4 pick, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But they do. Not favoring the side that could potentially have a greater reward is just silly at this point.

Author: Elias Schuster

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