Preview of the NBA 2021-22 season on Chicago Bulls. Data, results from the previous season, a look at their squad and future free agents, the objectives of the course, the player to watch and a forecast on the franchise.
- Market movements: Signings of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso (all movements here).
- Backcourt: Lonzo Ball, Coby White, Devon Dotson, Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, Javonte Green, DeMar DeRozan, Matt Thomas y Ayo Dosunmum
- Frontcourt: Derrick Jones Jr., Alize Johnson, Patrick Williams, Stanley Johnson, Troy Brown, Tyler Cook, Nikola Vucevic, Tony Bradley y Marko Simonovic.
This is how they face the season
With a well-founded illusion. The Bulls are perhaps the most intriguing team of the 2021-22 season. They have made significant signings such as DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, who should first give them a leap in quality, but of course, in an NBA team not always two plus two equals four. This could be the case.
Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine… and just one ball. This is perhaps the great doubt of these Bulls who, of course, face the new campaign with serious options of being one of the teams that improves the most with respect to the one lived in 2020-21. But let’s get back to the doubts. DeRozan is one of the NBA’s survivors before the triple craze. His game is with the ball and based on the medium distance shot and penetrations. If you are given stripes to develop such a way of doing things – they have 85 million ‘reasons’ in three years for doing it – it is obvious that you will perform at your best. The point is that it is not so clear.
Until last year the lord and lord of Chicago was Zach LaVine. His numbers, his leadership, his progression to becoming an All-Star… All of it demanded that it be so and he responded really well. Taking the ball out of their hands sounds strange – at least – but it turns out that the contract ends in 2022 and it has already sounded for other teams like the Boston Celtics. He seems fully focused on the Bulls and has even commented that he thinks he will be a good fit with DeRozan; however, this does not imply anything about the joint performance of the two or their continuity. Seeing him following his career for several years in Illinois is an option, but being traded is no less so.
And we have the third piece of the puzzle: Lonzo Ball. The eldest of the Ball brothers is a game generator. Seeing him combine with LaVine is perhaps easy, since they both shoot from the outside; with DeRozan … because more doubts already arise. And we say that Lonzo has an outside shot because he is. With a volume of 8.3 launches per night, it achieved 37.8% from the three-point line last year – not too bad. The point is that his main offensive strength is in being the one who dictates the plays, who sets the pace of the game … Can he do it? It remains to be seen.
Of course, none of us are going to solve the puzzle; that’s Billy Donovan’s job. In his second season at the helm of the legendary Illinois franchise, the head coach you have a need to make everything fit together in the best possible way. You may choose to distribute responsibilities even if it makes some of your pieces less effective, but it sounds better to get them integrated into a system that makes them work together. What is clear is that you cannot complain about the talent you have at your disposal; Lonzo Ball, for example, can be as important in attack as in defense – the 1.5 steals he averages in his career are a feature of that.
We have talked about the three main pieces of the backcourt, but behind them appear others like Coby White or Alex Caruso. The Bulls have not remained in shaping a more than interesting quintet, but have covered their backs with level players. White is an electric boy who from the bench could fight for the award for Best Sixth Man – we risk it. Caruso is the classic player that every coach and teammate would want by their side for any battle. Energy, defense, determination… The guard has more than earned his current contract with the Bulls.
If on the outside they are more than covered, on the inside such a thing cannot be said. They have a safe valuarte such as Nikola Vucevic, but beyond the Montenegrin it is difficult to pull another to see the matter clearly. Perhaps you can expect a step up from Patrick Williams like ‘three’ or ‘four’. Tony Bradley may be able to cover Vucevic well. From there, many bets and few certainties.
A quintet with Lonzo, LaVine, DeRozan, Williams and Vucevic looks good, but the reality is that we are facing a project that is yet to be forged. Arturas Karnisovas, who has been in charge of the office since April 2020, has put the pieces on the table and now it is Donovan who has to order them. After four years without reaching the playoffs it is clear that he will be required, at least, to be a team of play-in, but it is not a year to put on brakes. The illusion has exploded, and with good reason. This can be a great course in Chicago, one that will break that barrier between willing and power. They need it. They have made a great bet to return to the elite of the League. You can’t wait to see these Bulls 2021-22.
The player to watch
Lonzo Ball. Always under the spotlight of doubt, Lonzo has the opportunity to shine with his own light at the United Center. We are not going to find out now. He is one of those guys who does everything on the court, but at times has been designated as the piece to ‘execute’. The Lakers gave him out in search of the ring. New Orleans has let him go halfway. Now is the time for me to prove they were wrong about him. They have signed him for four years and like the team, he needs this to be a definitive step in his career to go from player aiming to star to becoming one.
NBA preview 2021-22 Chicago Bulls, prediction
Elio Martínez, director of Trends Wide, leaves a personal and subjective forecast on what he thinks each franchise will do during the season in the NBA 2021-22 preview.
Depending on what we give more importance to, we will put Chicago in one place or another in our predictions. If we think defense is basic, the Bulls should be a notch or two lower than New York; If, on the contrary, we think that the attack can do everything, then we must place Billy Donovan’s men in the area that covers the 5th to 7th places in the conference. Counting the previous roll that serves to excuse me from any forecast error, I think the Bulls have enough material to fight for a play-in position with a field advantage in the first game and I leave them as the second round of the East.
Previous team analyzed: New Orleans Pelicans. Next team: San Antonio Spurs.
(Cover photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)