A championship threat in the 1970’s with Hall-of-Famer Chet Walker, the Chicago Bulls truly did not become one of the NBA’s most historic franchises until 1984 when they drafted a guy by the name of Michael Jordan.
Going third overall after Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets) and Sam Bowie (Portland Trail Blazers) in the 1984 NBA Draft, Jordan instantly made an impact in his first season with the Bulls and the rest is history. From the start of the 1990-91 season through the 1997-98 season, Chicago won six NBA championships with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and legendary coach Phil Jackson.
When this team fell apart though following their final championship with Jordan retiring, Pippen being traded, Rodman being traded and others going their separate ways, the Bulls entered a long, grueling rebuild that they still found themselves in heading into the 2021-22 season.
Adding DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso last offseason, the Bulls finally took a huge step forward and made the playoffs with a 46-36 record for the first time since 2017. They may have lost in the first-round to the Milwaukee Bucks, but with their team fully healthy, Chicago believes that they can be a contending team in the Eastern Conference.
They avoided the Play-In Tournament last season, DeMar DeRozan had a career-year in his 13th NBA season and defensively, the Bulls really looked stronger when Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams were all on the floor and healthy.
There is a lot to like about the Chicago Bulls as an organization right now and their recent moves this offseason could set them up for a lot of success during the 2022-23 season.
NBA Draft: Dalen Terry (18)
Heading into the 2022 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls owned the rights to just one first-round pick, the No. 18 overall selection in the draft.
Many anticipated the Bulls possibly packaging this draft pick along with a younger talent like Coby White on draft night to either move up into the lottery or add more proven talents to their team, but general manager Marc Eversley and Chicago’s front-office kept this pick and utilized it to add a versatile, young prospect.
Dalen Terry out of Arizona was the Bulls pick at No. 18 in the 2022 NBA Draft and while he may not be the most proven player from this draft class, there is a lot to like about Terry’s fit here.
He is only 20-years-old and stands about 6-foot-7 with a near 7-1 wingspan. At Arizona, Terry proved to be a primarily facilitator at the point guard position, as well as a quick and agile player who could run in transition at the shooting guard position.
Because of his length and abilities to defend multiple positions, Terry could even see some time at small forward during his rookie season depending on who is in and out of the Bulls rotations at the time!
This was a very underrated selection made by the Bulls during the draft and a pick that many do not seem to want to give the time of day to because of how crowded Chicago’s backcourt is already.
Maybe he will not play much his rookie year, but the same was said about Ayo Dosunmu after the Bulls drafted him in the second-round of the 2021 NBA Draft. 77 games later, 40 in which he started in, Dosunmu earned All-Rookie honors this past season and cemented his spot in the team’s secondary rotation.
The Bulls know that getting better defensively is their own path to becoming a championship contender in the Eastern Conference and for this reason is why Dalen Terry is now in a Chicago Bulls uniform. His two-way potential was too much to pass up on at this spot and the lengthy, young guard should be able to ease his way into playing time as the 2022-23 season progresses.
Re-Signed: Zach LaVine (5yr/$215.2M), Derrick Jones Jr. (2yr/6.5M)
Additions: C Andre Drummond, G Goran Dragić
Departures: F/C Tristan Thompson, F Troy Brown Jr.
The biggest question for the Chicago Bulls entering the offseason and free agency in particular was whether or not they would be able to retain All-Star wing Zach LaVine given the fact that he made it clear he wanted to experience all that free agency had to offer.
Who knows whether or not he actually talked with other teams about potentially leaving Chicago, but on July 1, less than 24 hours since the negotiating period began on June 30, LaVine and the Bulls came to an agreement on a five-year, $215.2 million max contract.
Being named an All-Star for the second consecutive season, as well as being the leader of the Bulls since he joined the team in 2017, LaVine was rewarded with one of the larger contracts given out this offseason. Chicago also re-signed versatile forward Derrick Jones Jr. to an affordable and reasonable two-year, near $6.5 million deal.
In addition to retaining both Jones Jr. and LaVine, the Bulls also went out and signed two former All-Stars in Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic. Both veterans now on the back-halves of their respective careers, Drummond and Dragic should provide the Bulls with the playoff experience and depth they need, something that was missing during the 2021-22 season.
Tristan Thompson and Troy Brown Jr. were both replaceable bench talents for the Bulls, which is why they had one of the better, more underrated offseasons in the entire league.
This team coming off a 46-36 season did not lose any major pieces and they added two key veterans who can still contribute at a relatively moderate to high level.
Rebounding was a problem for the Bulls last season, as they ranked 28th in the league in total rebounds per game, which is why the addition of Andre Drummond truly means a lot to this franchise. Defensively, the Bulls were very average a season ago, which is why getting Caruso, Ball and Williams back to 100% is key for them.
Having a plethora of talent in their backcourt now in Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Coby White, Goran Dragic, Ayo Dosunmu and Dalen Terry, the Chicago Bulls have depth and skill to utilize in different matchups and games throughout the 2022-23 season.
2022-23 Season Outlook:
The only thing that matters for the Chicago Bulls at this point is building off of the 2021-22 season and finding a way to get to 50-plus wins and advance past the first-round of the playoffs this upcoming season.
Their All-Star trio of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic is definitely good enough to contend with the best-of-the-best in the Eastern Conference, but the difference for Chicago will lie in their secondary talents.
Can Lonzo Ball stay healthy this upcoming year and can Andre Drummond be a consistent double-double threat off-the-bench and behind Vucevic in the team’s depth chart? Can Coby White and Patrick Williams both step into larger roles for the Bulls on both ends of the court this upcoming season?
These are all key points of emphasis for Chicago and while it is a minimal answer, health will really be the deciding factor for whether or not this team has a chance to contend for a title.
There are better, more-skilled teams in the Eastern Conference, but the Bulls are a hungry team that looked very impressive with their full core healthy and on the floor last season. After all, they were at the top of the conference standings at one point in the regular season and they were 38-21 heading into the All-Star break.
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine cannot be the only consistent contributors for this team offensively, which is why secondary scorers like Coby White, Javonte Green, Patrick Williams and now Goran Dragic are so important.
With 17 players under contract right now ahead of training camp, including the likes of Javon Freeman-Liberty (Exhibit-10 Contract) and Justin Lewis (Two-Way Contract), the Bulls still have three open roster spots to play around with, although it is unlikely that any player added with one of these three spots will earn an actual roster spot on their 15-man roster.
It is also possible that Lewis could be waived at some point given that the undrafted rookie recently suffered what is believed to be a torn ACL. Filling their two-way roster spots with key contributors will be vital.
This team definitely has what it takes to be a Top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference during the regular season, but come time for the postseason, the Chicago Bulls are still a tier down from being a championship contender in the Eastern Conference compared to the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
Whether or not they can ascend themselves to contending status remains a question mark due to the mystery of their second-unit.