As recently as early February, the Chicago Bulls’ odds to make the playoffs were a reasonably optimistic +290 according to sportsbettingdime.com, which gave them a 26% chance. But a 2-13 skid has dropped them eight games out of the #8 seed with just 18 games to play. While not mathematically dead, the Bulls are now off the board in the NBA playoff futures.
How Did We Get Here
There is plenty of bad within the Chicago Bulls organization, there is no sugar-coating it. From bad management to horrendous coaching and player management, you can point the finger all you want, but the injuries this team has had to overcome have proven to be insurmountable.
The Bulls have lost starting point guard Kris Dunn and now more than likely Chandler Hutchinson to season-ending injuries, while being forced to play without starters Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. for long periods of time. It does not stop there, as arguably their best overall player Zach LaVine has been sidelined for the past couple of weeks, which has left head coach Jim Boylen with very little to work with.
“We’re in this moment where we’re working guys back in and getting used to playing with each again and kind of fighting through it,” coach Jim Boylen said. “I think I gave the training camp reference in Minnesota. It’s almost like we’re in the preseason with some of these lineups, situations. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s what it is. But it’s difficult.”
So is losing, which the Bulls have done far more often than not sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference at 21-43.
What Does The Future Hold
It’s been that kind of season, which began with such promise and talk of competing for the playoffs. With those a fading goal, player development remains a critical issue for the franchise.
Executive vice president John Paxson threw his support behind coach Jim Boylen for that task.
“We’re obviously having a tough season. But all along, I’ve asked Jim to continue to focus on teaching our young players, focusing on development and accountability, and he is doing that for us,” Paxson told NBC Sports Chicago. “He and his staff continue to work with players in practice and through individual film work so they can continue to grow, which we all believe will pay dividends in the future.”
The Bulls are in a very tough position right now and unfortunately for fans, it is a familiar one. If the season ended tomorrow, Chicago would draft right around that familiar 7 or 8-spot in the upcoming NBA Draft, which is somewhat of a crapshoot. There is no guarantee in the draft, but being in the top three is where you need to be to give yourself the best chance at landing a franchise-altering player.
Long story short, the Bulls have once again been bad, but not bad enough to be at the top of the draft board.