One of the most puzzling lines this season is the Chicago Bulls NBA odds on the Win Total being an increase of 11.5 games over their Win Total from last year. This team won 22 games last year. I’m struggling to see what Chicago did to warrant this uptick in optimism for their team.
Yes, they are a young team whose players should improve from gaining experience. They made a nice free agency add in Tomas Satoransky. Perhaps their best offseason move was getting rid of Jabari Parker, his overpiced salary, and his bad attitude. Coach Jim Boylen had problems with the team last year due to his “old school hard knocks” style not meshing with the young players AAU attitudes.
Zach LaVine puts up big numbers, but I’m not a big fan of his, as other than scoring, he doesn’t do much to make the team better. He seems to be a black hole on offense. As I’ve mentioned before, “Would you want to play with Zach Lavine?”, Wendell Carter Jr. is nice in the middle, although I wonder if he will struggle against some of the bigger Centers in the NBA. Lauri Markkanen is a great scorer but struggles on defense which brings me to the biggest problem with this team.
Of the starting five, I consider three, Tomas Satoransky, Zach Lavine, and Lauri Markkanen, to be below average on defense. Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. play good defense, but is it enough to make up for the other three? The guard defense is extremely concerning. It’s hard to play well defensively when the other team’s point guard is able to do whatever he wants and get to whichever spots on the floor he wants. I don’t see Satoransky being able to stop the other team’s point guard from directing their offense. Backup PG Kris Dunn is another concern defensively.
Denzel Valentine is a great piece off the bench and Thaddeus Young is what I would rate as the average NBA role player. Young wants to take a leadership role this year, and that could be a help to this young team. The rest of the bench is troubling with draft pick Coby White probably needing some time to assimilate to the speed and strength of the NBA. Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchinson will struggle to make contributions, so they only go about 8 deep in their rotations before they have a severe dropoff.
I haven’t seen any moves that warrant an improvement of 12 games. Chicago obviously has an easier schedule being in the East and will get easy wins at home against the likes of Charlotte, Washington, and Cleveland. However, I still don’t see that pushing them past the 33 win threshold. This team is going to have a lot of problems when it travels out west. I like the building pieces for this young team and they’re definitely going in the right direction. Concerns remain about a coach that I don’t know if the team will buy into and young players who might become more concerned about their stat lines than the team winning. A solid preseason NBA pick will be the Chicago Bulls under 33.5.
Best Pick: Chicago Bulls Under 33.5 (-110) with 5Dimes