It Begins: The Chicago Bulls 2022-’23

The Chicago Bulls start their 2022-’23 campaign tonight in Miami, against Jimmy Butler and the Heat. Like most Bulls fans, I would say I’m excited for the start of the season, but that feeling is tinged with a hint of worry. Even after a quiet offseason, with little changing in the roster, there are still some big question marks for this team to answer. Chief among those worries, can the Bulls beat the top tier teams in the league?

The Bulls struggled against the top teams in the NBA last season, winning only 2 games against the best competition the league had to offer. Tonight, they have their first crack at changing the narrative and their identity. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Miami Heat are consistently on every experts list of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls need to beat the Heat.

Miami, much like the Bulls, didn’t really change their roster over the offseason. Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Max Strus, Victor Oladipo, when you look at those familiar names you realize they didn’t have to change the roster, they are just as talented as anyone in the East. The big loss for the Heat was PJ Tucker exiting in free agency. His defense will be missed, but any team led by Jimmy and Bam should be a force to be reckoned with.

It’s not like the Bulls are talent deprived either. I’ve been harping on this all preseason, but I think it’s important to remember, there are 5 former All-Stars on the Bulls: DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Andre Drummond, and Goran Dragic. It’s the reason Arturas Karnisovas and Billy Donovan expect the Bulls to return to the playoffs and advance. I expect it too. I think every Bulls fan should expect it. Even with Lonzo Ball out, even with LaVine coming off of knee surgery this summer, there should be no excuses, and a lot more winning.

Are my expectations too high? Most experts, including the fine folks in Las Vegas that set the over/unders for the season, don’t have the Bulls winning much more than 41 games. A lot of publications have the Bulls finishing in the play-in round of the playoffs, or even just outside that. Maybe it’s dumb hope and optimism on my part, but I believe they are better than that.

The dreamer in me expects more from the Bulls, and the realist is worried about more than just the playoffs.

How is Zach LaVine’s knee? So far, all we’ve heard is that he feels great, that there are no issues, but if you look at the injury report for today’s game he is listed as “questionable” for left knee injury management, whatever that means.

Zach is integral to this teams success, if he’s not able to go on a nightly basis, that could have a real impact on how well this team does in the regular season and beyond.

Patrick Williams, is he starting or nah? Williams did not start 2 out of the 4 preseason games, and had seemingly lost his starting roll to Javonte Green, who had a gangbusters preseason. But here we are on the morning of the first game of a new season and Patrick Williams is our starting quarterback, as Lovie Smith would say.

I’m glad Pat is starting, but there is a seed of doubt in this decision. Green not only played better than Williams in preseason, he seemed to fit better with the starters. Likewise, Williams flourished with the second unit. He had more opportunities to create offense with the ball in his hands, and he seemed to work better with the experienced Goran Dragic running the point. Pat has a ton of talent and potential, I’d hate to see it wasted in a lineup that doesn’t fit his style of play.

Ultimately, this season is going to come down to the play of DeMar DeRozan, Vucevic, and LaVine. If those three can’t lead the team to success tonight, and this season, then the Bulls just might find themselves on the outside of the playoffs looking in. On day one of the NBA, I just can’t believe that’s how this season will end. I know DeRozan is hungry. I know Vooch is in a contract season. I know Zach still has doubters he needs to silence. And I know Billy Donovan isn’t a slouch when it comes to coaching. The Bulls can be just as great as anyone else in the NBA, they have the talent. Tonight is their first chance to prove it.

Until they do, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!