The Chicago Bulls finished the 2022-23 regular season with an underwhelming 40-42 record, falling to the Miami Heat in the Play-In Tournament and missing out on the postseason.
In what is a pivotal offseason for the organization, here are some essential areas of focus for the road ahead.
Pending Free Agents:
- Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Beverley, Coby White (Restricted), Andre Drummond (Player Option), Ayo Dosunmu (Restricted), Derrick Jones Jr. (Player Option), Javonte Green, Terry Taylor
Rebuild or Retool?
Despite the disappointing finish, there are some positives the Bulls can take away from this past season. After the All-Star break, Chicago went 14-9 and finished the regular season ranked fifth in total defense. Zach LaVine looked well past last year’s troublesome knee injury, while DeMar DeRozan showed he still has plenty left in the tank as he gets set to turn 34. Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the lineup of Beverley, Alex Caruso, LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic outscored opponents by 69 points. The question is whether general manager Marc Eversley saw enough to keep Chicago’s core intact or if the franchise wants to embark on a lengthy rebuild.
- Nikola Vucevic’s Free Agency
- Three Point Shooting
- Improved Point Guard Play
Should the Bulls decide to run it back, re-signing Vucevic becomes the team’s top priority. The 32-year-old appeared in all 82 games for Chicago, averaging 17.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while shooting 52% from the field. That type of production from the center spot would be difficult to replace.
Chicago was dead last in three points made and attempted, an area executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas admitted must be addressed, particularly given the style of play in today’s game.
“It will be a priority for us to kind of change our shooting profile because it’s very difficult for us to go into every game with such a deficit, said Karnisovas. “We’re last in rate, three-point rate, we’re last in three-point field goals made. It’s almost like we’re going into every game with 8 points deficit to make up for it. “
Finally, Lonzo Ball’s future remains in serious question following a third knee operation. With Ball missing all of 2022-23, head coach Billy Donovan used a combination of Beverley, White, and Dosunmu, all of whom struggled at times and could depart in free agency. Chicago was a top-three seed with Ball healthy, and while management is confident the 25-year-old will eventually return, they can ill-afford to play the waiting game. Improved point guard play is necessary if the Bulls are to take the next step.
2023 Draft Pick Status
Complicating matters is the status of the team’s first-round selection in the 2023 NBA Draft. Chicago dealt two future first-rounders (one being this year’s pick) to the Orlando Magic as part of the deal that brought Vucevic to the Windy City. However, the Bulls will retain this year’s selection if they are fortunate enough to land in the top four of the lottery. Needless to say, Orlando and Chicago are hoping Lady Luck smiles on them when the ping-pong balls are drawn.