After winning the offseason, the Chicago Bulls are delivering on heightened preseason expectations. Following a perfect 4-0 exhibition schedule, the Bulls are now 4-0 to open the regular season. Entering Wednesday, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and the rest of the new-look Bulls are just one of three undefeated teams left. Now, the rest of the nation will soon get to see what fans in Chicago have been enjoying through opening week.
The Chicago Bulls are 3-and-D kings
Chicago hasn’t been running teams out of the gym. In fact, its pace has been the sixth-slowest in the NBA. But the Bulls are flourishing thanks to efficient three-point shooting and suffocating defense.
Billy Donovan’s Bulls average a 42.3% rate from three, leading the league by a wide margin. But they’re doing so with smart shots, averaging a league-low 26.0 attempts from beyond the arc. On the defensive end, Chicago sits third with 97.5 points allowed, third with 10.3 steals, and fourth in defensive rating.
On an individual level, the Bulls are getting solid production from nearly everyone on the court. Following a career-best 2020-21, LaVine once again paces the team with 25.5 points. DeRozan is excelling in his first year with Chicago, averaging 22.5 points. New point guard Lonzo Ball and All-Star center Nikola Vucevic are each averaging 14.3 points, with Ball also leading in assists, blocks, and steals. Even the sixth man Alex Caruso has become a force of defense, averaging 3.3 steals per game.
The entire team is defending and nearly everyone, save Vucevic, is hitting threes at an above-average rate. As a result, Chicago has beaten its opponents by an average of 10 points, the fourth-highest differential in the sport.
Bulls and Knicks are headed to primetime
The Bulls have been one of the biggest surprises of the new campaign. The New York Knicks, meanwhile, were arguably the greatest surprise last year, earning the four-seed after seven consecutive playoff-less seasons. Now, the two teams are set to tip-off on national TV.
The NBA announced Thursday’s battle at the United Center between the Bulls and Knicks will air on NBA TV, replacing the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers. Chicago has yet to play on a national broadcast, while New York has had one this week and two for the season.
As a team without any modicum of success in recent years, the Bulls have been starving for opportunities to play on primetime. Now, against a team featuring their former MVP Derrick Rose and head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls will have an opportunity to prove themselves to fans across the nation.
More meaningful games are ahead for the Chicago Bulls
Thursday’s home game against New York is Chicago’s first on national TV, as well as its first against a winning opponent. But many big games await the undefeated Bulls.
Chicago will have to run the gauntlet of tough opponents. Following the Knicks game, the Bulls will face the Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, 76ers twice, and Brooklyn Nets for another NBA TV duel. Soon after, they’ll head on a five-game road trip out west with primetime games against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. After beginning the year with three teams who missed the playoffs last season, they won’t face another non-playoff or play-in team until the Houston Rockets on November 24.
During that stretch, the Bulls will be tested to the point where we’ll know for sure whether they’re a contender or pretender. But the more wins Chicago can earn over the next month, the more we’ll see this surprise team on a national level.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.