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Chicago Bulls preview: Can “Big 3” rediscover their 2021-22 form?

Here’s a look at the Bulls ahead of the upcoming NBA season.

Chicago Bulls v Detroit Pistons
DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic of the Chicago Bulls huddle up on the court during the game against the Detroit Pistons on March 1, 2023 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Ahead of the 2023-24 NBA season, DK Network is taking an in-depth look at all 30 teams. We’re going over all the big moves from the offseason, predicting the starting lineup, providing a fantasy basketball perspective, looking at relevant odds and assessing season expectations for each franchise. Here’s a look at the Chicago Bulls.

Chicago Bulls 2023-24 Outlook

Key additions: Jevon Carter, Torrey Craig

With Lonzo Ball set to be sidelined for the 2023-24 season, Carter is a nice point guard option. He’s a solid defender who can also attack the basket offensively and shoots the ball well from the perimeter. Craig is solid combo forward who can come off the bench.

Key departures: None

The Bulls haven’t made wholesale changes to the roster, much to the chagrin of fans. There simply hasn’t been a move out there to make this team better and a rebuild is probably not something ownership wants to go through right now.

Projected starting lineup

The “Big 3” of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic will be in the lineup. The question is who will play point guard. If LaVine is the primary point guard, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams will round out the starting lineup. If the Bulls want to go with Carter, Caruso likely comes off the bench.

Fantasy basketball player to watch: Zach LaVine

Two seasons ago, LaVine posted 27.4 points per game on 51/41/85 shooting splits. That led to a five-year max extension. The efficiency has dropped off slightly since then, but it’s been enough to now question the contract. If he’s asked to play point guard more, that could help his assist numbers and give him more pick-and-roll opportunities. DeRozan and Vucevic are what they are, but LaVine might still have an additional gear. The Bulls have to hope he can find it as he enters his prime.

Notable odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)

Win total: 37.5
To make playoffs: Yes +160, No -200
To win East: +7500
To win NBA title: +20000

Season expectations

In 2021-22, the Bulls were first in the East when Lonzo Ball got hurt on January 14. Over a month later, the Bulls were still first in the East. They eventually finished sixth with a 46-36 record but the point is that team was good. Ball is out and it feels like the entire operation has fallen apart. That’s not how teams should function, and the LaVine-DeRozan-Vucevic trio has to prove that in the 2023-24 season.

Barring a complete disaster start and ownership giving a full rebuild the green light, the Bulls are expected to compete for a playoff spot. They were a minute and change away from making the postseason out fo the play-in tournament a year ago, so that’s not an unrealistic ask. It might not mean anything for the team in terms of becoming a title contender in the future, but a playoff berth is the expectation.