Chicago Bulls season preview
This preview originally appeared in our 2023-24 VSiN NBA Betting Guide, which was released on Thursday, October 5. To become a VSiN Pro subscriber and get all of our NBA coverage throughout the season, click here.
Bulls Betting Odds
NBA Finals: +17000
Win Total: 37.5
Playoffs: Yes (+150)
It is unclear what the goal is for the front office of the Chicago Bulls. The top of the Eastern Conference, which was already much better than Chicago, got stronger with the additions of Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee and Boston respectively. The Bulls’ offseason consisted of re-signing Nikola Vucevic and acquiring Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig. Chicago could potentially make it back to the play-in once more, but it is hard to see this team achieving anything more than that by running it back with a roster that won just 40 games last season.
The main priority for Chicago will be fixing an offense that finished 24th in non-garbage time efficiency by averaging 113.8 points per 100 possessions. In listening to what team members are saying, it seems that 3-point shooting will be an emphasis this season. The Bulls had the second-lowest frequency of 3-point shots last season (30.4%), and they only ranked 17th in accuracy (36.2%). Their average of 10.4 made 3-pointers per game was tied for the lowest in the NBA. If the Bulls are going to maximize the potential of this season, taking more efficient shots will help, but they will need their stars to buy in.
DeMar DeRozan led the team in usage rate last season (29.5%) and likely will once again this season. However, he is a mid-range scorer who took 69.3% of his shot attempts from mid-range. He is extremely efficient from that area (he shot 46.6% on those attempts), but he only averaged 1.9 3-point attempts per game. In media availability in the offseason, he also pushed back on the idea of taking more attempts per game.
LaVine is a much more balanced scorer who shot 37.5% on 7.1 3-point attempts per game, and Patrick Williams, whose spot in the starting lineup could be on the line due to the addition of Torrey Craig, is a career 41.4% shooter. Jevon Carter has also hit 39.7% of his career 3-point attempts, and both Alex Caruso and Coby White are good enough from deep that they are considered threats by opposing teams. This team does not lack accurate shooters, but the willingness to change and take more of those attempts has to come if this offense is going to improve.
Bettors should look for this team to run more as well. Chicago finished 18th in pace (99.18) last season and played the fourth most halfcourt possessions (81.3%). It finished just 22nd in offensive rating in transition off live rebounds (118.4), so the team must improve their efficiency when running as well. Chief basketball executive Arturas Karnisovas has expressed a desire for more transition play from his team as well, which could lead to another difference in this season’s team.
So, more 3-point attempts and makes, as well as a faster pace of play with more efficient transition offense could be coming for Chicago. That would mean looking for Overs in Bulls games early could benefit bettors. It could be the case, but remember that this team could be surprisingly effective on defense again this season.
The Bulls were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA last season. They allowed the fifth-fewest points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time (112.5) while ranking third in defensive rebounding rate (74.9%) and sixth in turnover rate (15.0%). Their most effective defensive lineup configuration was with Patrick Beverley and Alex Caruso on the court together. Those lineups ranked in the 98th percentile in defensive efficiency (105.8). While Beverley departed, the team did bring in Carter to replace him. He will be a good defender at the point of attack to replace Beverley with, and should Vucevic dominate the defensive glass as he did last season it won’t be a shock to see this team finish as one of the best defenses yet again.
At this point, it is somewhat difficult to project accurately what Chicago will be this season. They have expressed a desire to change certain offensive philosophies, but executing that style is another task entirely. Certain teams that finished ahead of them last season (Miami and Brooklyn) could be worse this season, but teams that were behind the Bulls (Indiana and Orlando) could rise to take their place.
DraftKings currently has Chicago at +115 to participate in the Eastern Conference play-in, and given what we know about this team there is a high probability that would be this franchise’s fate this season.
Win Total Analysis
One more factor hangs over this team that will impact where it ends up in the standings: DeRozan’s contract. He is on an expiring deal, and should Chicago end up on the wrong end of the standings by the time the trade deadline comes around, he will be a hot commodity for other teams to call about. If DeRozan is shipped off, it could open the door for LeVine to be dealt as well, but moving him is slightly more difficult considering the years and money left on his current deal.
The potential reality of this team not having DeRozan and LaVine on this roster on the other side of the trade deadline must enter the minds of win total bettors this season. If we assume that this roster stays intact, there are some factors that work in the Bulls’ favor this season.
First and foremost, Chicago is due for some better luck. They were 15-23 SU in games that entered clutch minutes despite an even 0.0 net rating. The Bulls also had the ninth-lowest 3-point percentage on uncontested looks (37.7%) despite generating the 10th-highest frequency of wide-open shots. Better luck in those factors, coupled with a schedule that has one of the best net rest advantages (+5) and the fifth fewest miles traveled could allow the Bulls to go Over their win total. Since DeRozan is still on the roster the only thing to do is to recommend an Over play on this win total.
Win Total Recommendation: OVER 37.5