If you’re a fan of the Chicago Bulls, then the unbridled optimism you would have felt 12 months ago has likely been replaced with dread and uncertainty. An extremely fun group, led by a superb DeMar DeRozan season, came apart quickly as a result of injuries and the improvement of the rosters around them.
The Bulls are back for more this season, but at this point, they look more like a team destined for the play-in than a first-round upset over another organization. The frailties have been exposed for all to see, and there was not a lot done in the offseason to inspire any confidence that this Bulls roster is going to be any better than last season.
Their brief flirtation with being a fringe contender already looks to be over, with no viable route back.
Who are the three players who will decide how far this group can go both this season and beyond? At first, DeRozan would seem the most obvious choice as their best player, but we have veered away from him here. This is because his future could yet lie elsewhere, and at 33, it is fair to assume his peak is behind him.
Despite all of this negativity, there are still some things to like here. The Bulls aren’t so old that they could not get better internally, which we will come back to, and they have both expiring contracts and assets to be involved in any trade that may arise. Compared to the top of the Eastern Conference, however, it is hard to see how they can get to that level soon.