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Are the Bulls Legitimate Playoff Contenders?

The Chicago Bulls are in the midst of a heavy rebuild. From the late 2000s to 2015 the Bulls had several solid runs through the playoffs, however, they never reached the finals. Since then though the team has struggled. In the last two seasons, the team has not won more than 30 games. The Bulls potential to succeed soon is there but what about right now?

First-year head coach Jim Boylen has some thoughts about the trajectory of this team though, “Our goals for the season are to make the playoffs and every day to prepare like we’re a playoff team, to work like we’re a playoff team.” Is this a realistic thought for this team?

Why they will:

The Bulls are an extremely young team with tons of potential. The entire Bulls starting lineup is under 30 years old and three of those five are under 25.

Many of these players, like Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine, have so much upside and have years to develop.

Bulls potential

The incoming class is also looking to have a great career. Point Guard Coby White and Center Daniel Gafford have the skills and potential to make it in the NBA. Fans have been unable to see this team at its full strength for a stretch of time. Coming into the season most of the team will be at, or near 100%. Under a hard-nosed coach like Jim Boylen, this young and energetic team could be pushed to reach their best.

The East is also not the most competitive conference. There will be some locks, like the 76ers and Bucks, but many of the spots are wide open. The Bulls potential is there and using that and being in the East to their advantage the Bulls could surprise some people and slip into the playoff race.

Why they won’t:

First off, the Bulls are very inexperienced. They don’t have a lot of background in playing in or winning, close games. This could hinder them if the team is in a situation where they are up big but momentum switches; or in just a close game in the fourth quarter.

Bulls potential
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Jim Boylen is tough and demands a lot. This could work well with the team or could frustrate them. In turn, they may respond poorly and not play to their potential.

Another probable issue is that these young and developing players don’t take steps in the right direction. The Bull’s potential is there, but the keyword is potential. Nobody can perfectly predict how each of these players’ careers will go.

In addition, despite the East not being as intense as the West there still are a number of teams that have gotten better since last season. With the league shifting so much over the course of the summer and free agency nobody is sure of what will happen.

Unfortunately for Bulls fans, it is more likely than not that the Bulls will miss out on this season’s playoffs. But, in the future, the Bulls potential to be contenders is certainly there. There are just too many unknown factors about this team, as well as its competition to say that this team will make the playoffs. Especially with such sub-par seasons for the past several years.

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