The Bulls finished the 2021-22 season at 46-36 and made it back to the postseason for the first time since 2016-17. They lost the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, but it was a positive step forward that was a lot of fun for Bulls Nation.
The Glaring Question
The Bulls were 39-21 through their first 60 games last season but struggled to finish 7-15 in the final 22 games after losing Lonzo Ball. Fast forward to now and Lonzo is still out with the knee issue. We won’t be able to see the full power of the Bulls until he’s back, but there’s also nothing else we can do about it for now.
Andre Drummond is the big addition to this team. He signed a 2-year, $6.56 million dollar deal back in July. A backup center was one of my biggest needs for the Bulls this offseason and Drummond solves that issue. At 6’10 279, Drummond is a force down low. Drummond actually led the NBA in rebounds per 36 minutes last season! He joins a team in Chicago that was outrebounded in every game of their playoff series last year. He can make a big difference for this team. Hey and if you watched some of the Bulls preseason game in Toronto, Drummond may even stretch the floor with an occasional three (3-3 from 3 in that one).
Dalen Terry joins as the Bulls only Draft Pick from this year’s draft. I wrote a separate breakdown on Dalen Terry after the Bulls drafted him. Take a look at that to learn more about the Bulls’ rookie. We’ll have to see how much he’s out there for Billy Donovan right away. 36-year-old Goran Dragic was also added in the offseason to add PG depth with Lonzo out.
With Lonzo out, Ayo Dosunmu will take the reins at point guard to begin the year. Ayo will technically be the point guard, but with most of the offense running through DeRozan and LaVine he won’t actually have the ball in his hands that much.
One key for this lineup will be having someone who can knock down the three. That became an issue last year in the playoffs and it’s not really something that was addressed in free agency. That leads me to believe that management has bought in on the shooting developing for Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu.
Another concern of mine is passing. Of course, that stems from the loss of Lonzo Ball, but they’ll need a playmaker to create for others. A negative I saw in the preseason was just some bad passing decisions. The Bulls had 27 turnovers against the Pelicans and 24 turnovers against the Raptors. If the Bulls want to get where we want them to, they can’t be turning it over 20+ times per game.
The plot below shows all 30 NBA Teams from last season by Points per Possession Scored and Points per Possession Allowed. It’s clear the elite defensive teams were Golden State, Boston and Phoenix. The Bulls have a lot of teams to jump to get themselves into that elite bottom right corner of the graph. Adding a rim-protector in Drummond should help a bit, but the Bulls off-ball defense will need to take a step as well.
Overall, the core of last year’s team is back along with a few new faces that should only help. When they get Lonzo Ball back, this team can be as exciting as any team in the league. Andre Drummond should help the rebounding. The two main keys are going to be defense and shooting. Can the Bulls knock down open 3’s on offense, then find a man in transition and prevent overhelping on defense. Bulls fans should be excited about the start of another great year for this franchise.