Despite only one playoff appearance the past two seasons, the Chicago Bulls plan to compete with the same core in 2023-24. Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević will be the focal points of the Bulls’ offense.
During the off-season, Chicago focused on retaining its young players, while adding veteran role players. Some expected the Bulls to blow it up amid trade discussions around LaVine and DeRozan, but executive vice president Arturas Karnišovas made it clear: the Chicago Bulls will run it back in 2023-24.
Key off-season re-signings:
While the move isn’t an addition, the Bulls’ front office showcased its commitment to the current core when Chicago offered Vučević a three-year, $60 million deal during the off-season.
The big man is entering the season 33 years old and past his prime, but he still provides offensive upside. Vučević is a solid third option for the Bulls, who spaces the floor and still showcases activity on the boards. His three-point accuracy has significantly dipped during his Bulls tenure, but he still poses a deep threat for the league’s lowest-volume shooting team in 2022.
The Bulls retained fifth-year guard Coby White with a three-year, $36 million contract extension during the off-season. White experienced a more limited role last season for Chicago, starting only two games for the Bulls, but he was the primary scorer/energizer off the bench. White excelled in his new role, scoring nearly 10 points a game in only 23 minutes. Coby maintained his solid three-point accuracy, draining deep shots 37 percent of the time. The young guard continued to improve from inside the arc, making a career-high 44 percent of his attempts.
The Bulls focused on retaining their young pieces, including extending 2021 second-round draft pick Ayo Dosunmu to a team-friendly three-year contract. Dosunmu enters his third NBA season looking for extended playing time. After showing impressive flashes during his rookie campaign, Dosunmu didn’t make the leap people expected. Dosunmu’s biggest second-year drop came from deep, where he only made 31 percent of his three-point attempts.
As point guard Lonzo Ball’s future health remains an important question for the Bulls, the team signed veteran point guard Jevon Carter to a three-year deal.
Carter provides everything Chicago misses with Ball’s absence, especially outside shooting. The Bulls were the only team to not attempt 30+ three-point shots per game last season, but bringing Carter into Chicago provides another outside threat to lean on.
In addition to his elite ability to knock down three-pointers, Carter provides the ability to aggressively guard the opponent’s best perimeter player. Carter’s quick feet and active hands disrupt opposing guards’ momentum toward the basket. Opposing guards will have a tough day at work when Carter and defensive wizard Alex Caruso share the court together.
Craig appeared in 79 games for the Phoenix Suns during the 2022 season. Similar to Carter, Craig provides dependable outside shooting. Craig found his spot last season, hitting 39 percent of his attempts from deep. He only shot above 36 percent from deep in one season before last year’s breakout. The Bulls’ deep struggles could lessen if Craig can continue the touch he found in 2022.
Green played 32 games for the Bulls in 2022 and provided explosive energy off the bench. Green had his most efficient season of his career in limited playing time. The Golden State Warriors signed Green during the preseason, before waiving him on Oct. 19.
Beverley appeared in 22 games for the Bulls after signing late into the season. Beverley provided a defensive spark for his hometown team. While on the court, Beverley often defended the opponent’s top ball handler. Beverley signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers during the off-season.
Starters: White, LaVine, DeRozan, Williams, Vučević
The key to the starting lineup is former fourth overall draft pick Patrick Williams. Williams has struggled with production in his young career, partly by playing alongside veterans in LaVine, DeRozan and Vučević. Still, many fans are looking for more aggressiveness from the former top-5 draft pick. While his efficiency has taken a toll during the team’s five preseason games, Williams put down an aggressive dunk in the team’s final preseason game. A Williams breakout season could be looming if he can take advantage when the ball’s in his hands.
Bench unit: Dosunmu, Caruso, Craig, Carter, Dalen Terry, Andre Drummond, Terry Taylor, Justin Lewis
The bench has a nice mix of veteran and young talent, with plenty of plus defenders ready to create chaos on the court.
The team’s starting unit is basically the same as last season, except White has reemerged as the starting point guard ahead of Caruso. While the team did shore up its depth with signings of Carter and Craig, the team doesn’t stand against the top eastern conference opponents. The Chicago Bulls will finish near the 40-win mark and may compete in the NBA play-ins in 2023-24.
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