Tanking Bulls Now Given Lowest Win Total for 2017-18

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 2:58 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 6, 2017 2:58 PM UTC

The Chicago Bulls were a playoff team last season, but oddsmakers expect an ugly 2017-18 campaign as the Bulls now have the lowest projected win total of any team in the league at 23.5. What’s the smart bet?

Bulls Have ‘Surpassed’ Nets

Back at the start of August, I previewed the 2017-18 Brooklyn Nets and they had the lowest win total at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks at 20.5. I recommended ‘over’ there and feel much better about it now as the books have adjusted many totals and Brooklyn now has a number of 26.5 at BetOnline. And the ‘over’ is favored there.

Your new bottom-feeder in terms of a win total is Chicago at 23.5, with the ‘under’ a -125 favorite. The last time the Bulls attempted a full-on rebuild/tank job it didn’t go well. Then-GM Jerry Krause broke up the dynastic Bulls after they won a sixth NBA title in 1998. Michael Jordan retired after that (temporarily as he would eventually play a few years with the Wizards) and Krause dumped Scottie Pippen and forced out Coach Phil Jackson. Many believe that MJ would have stuck around for one more season had Krause kept the band together.

Krause’s rebuild was a disaster as the Bulls would finish way below .500 for the next six seasons as draft picks didn’t pan out. The biggest blunder was a double-whammy in taking high school 7-footers Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry at No. 2 and No. 4 overall in the 2001 draft. Chandler would pan out eventually, but not until years later and with other teams. Curry was a total bust.

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Youth Is Served … Once Wade Gone

The Bulls finished 41-41 last year and pushed the Boston Celtics to six games in the first round of the playoffs, but president of basketball operations and former Chicago guard John Paxson decided it was time for a franchise reboot. Paxson dealt star Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 pick in the 2017 draft to Minnesota for young guards Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick that Paxson used on Arizona freshman 7-footer Lauri Markkanen.

Most believe the Bulls got hosed in that trade. Dunn was a bust last year for the Timberwolves. LaVine can score but can’t play a lick of defense and is coming off a torn ACL. Markkanen has some potential as a possible Dirk Nowitzki-type player (although he won’t be that good). Markkanen, who played well in this summer’s Eurobasket competition, is +5000 to win the year’s NBA Rookie of the Year Award.

Paxson knew the Bulls were going to be bad this season so he didn’t do much in free agency, letting go of the likes of Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams while signing Justin Holiday. Meh.

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I can officially confirm that Dwyane Wade's kids are back at school in S. Florida, no longer in Chicago.

— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) August 22, 2017

So as of now, the Bulls have a likely starting five of Dunn, Dwyane Wade, LaVine (when healthy), Bobby Portis and Robin Lopez, with Denzel Valentine, Paul Zipser, Markkanen, Holiday and Cristiano Felicio off the bench. However, I can all but assure you that Wade won’t be with the team when it opens the season Oct. 19 in Toronto. Wade picked up his $23.8 million player option, but he doesn’t want to be in Chicago and the Bulls don’t really want him. It’s just a matter of negotiating a buyout that Wade would accept and the Bulls are OK giving. Wade reportedly then wants to sign back with the Miami Heat or play with buddy LeBron James on the Cavaliers. Chicago would love to trade Lopez as well.

It's fair to say this team won’t be making the playoffs. That they do is +1700 at 5Dimes and no is a huge -4250 favorite. Frankly, though, it’s a great season to tank because the top of the 2018 draft looks potentially loaded with Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter, DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and Luka Doncic. The Bulls could win big for losing big. That’s the plan!

Free NBA Pick: ‘Under’ 23.5 Wins (-125)Best Line Offered: BetOnline
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