Chicago started off having a magical season last year that ultimately morphed into an injury nightmare. Like teams in many sports, last winter was not kind to the Bulls. They jumped out to a hot start and led the Eastern Conference when a COVID-19 outbreak hit the team in December, placing practically the entire roster in the league’s health and safety protocols.
After recovering from COVID, pivotal players like Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, and Nikola Vučević all dealt with injuries causing some to miss significant time. The good news is the Bulls bring back the same core group of players to start the new year, minus Ball, who’s still sidelined with a torn meniscus. Chicago caught lightning in a bottle early last season, which will be tough to duplicate in consecutive years.
Chicago finished sixth and was on the losing end of a gentleman’s sweep at the hands of Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs. Other teams in the East have gotten better — like above-mentioned Atlanta and Cleveland — then you have teams like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Miami, who likely aren’t going anywhere.
A top-six finish will be tough for the Bulls this year, and that hot start doesn’t seem feasible. Finishing in the top seven-to-10 range for these Bulls is more likely this season, based on injuries, personnel, and the overall competition in the East.