Chicago Bulls Season Preview

The Bulls finished the 2022-23 season with a 40-42 record and were knocked out by the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament. Below we see where the Bulls ranked by offensive and defensive efficiency for last season.

The Bulls ranked 5th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, but also dropped to 24th in offensive efficiency. The improved defense was great but the drastic offset on offense made for an under .500 team.

Below we see the Bulls offensive and defensive efficiency rankings over the last five seasons. We see both the drastic improvement in defense and also the regression in offensive efficiency ranking for the first time since Billy Donovan has been at the helm.

Billy Donovan posed an interesting question on Bulls media day. How can Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic all have career effective field goal percentage years, but the team finished 24th in the NBA in offensive efficiency?

Donovan had the answer, free throw rate and offensive rebounding. The Bulls ranked 27th in free throws attempted per 100 possessions and 28th in offensive rebounds per 100 possessions. Those are two things the Bulls must improve on heading into the new season.

Offseason Focus

VP of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas had a few things he was looking for in free agent acquisitions this offseason:

• Physicality/Toughness

• Shooting

• Energy/Turnover creation

Karnisovas landed on Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter. Those two definitely embody those three traits. Carter is a Chicago guy who is an absolute pest on defense, will bring energy as soon as he steps on the floor and over the last couple of seasons has really improved his 3-point shooting. Bulls’ fans will love him. Torrey Craig can be valuable as a 3-and-D guy. He shot a career high 39.5% from three last year for Phoenix.

Focus for This Season

Coach Billy Donovan identified four focuses he has for the team for this season:

• Play Faster – they didn’t push it enough last year. Looked at the bench too often for a play call instead of pushing it up the floor.

• Move Ball Better – the Bulls didn’t turn it over much last year, but they may have also been a symptom of passing the ball around the perimeter too much.

• Change Shooting Profile – This harkens back to the earlier point of not enough free throws and offensive rebounds. The Bulls need more transition – either open threes or attack the basket and draw fouls. They also need more threes off of offensive rebounds.

• Team Cohesion – A lot of the same faces as last year’s team should help; how will the new additions adjust in their role?

Biggest challenges

The two things that will dictate if the Bulls can really change the 24th ranked offense:

• Get into the paint

• Draw Fouls + O Reb + Kick out 3s

The defense will need to stay strong, but there’s no reason to think it won’t given the additions in the offseason. The offense is now what must improve for this team to make the step. The Bulls are believing in this core and believing this group can have a really successful 2023-24 season.

The Bulls open up the regular season on Wednesday October 25th against Oklahoma City.

Published by Will McClaughry

Sports fan, data enthusiast and former division 3 college basketball player

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