The Chicago Bulls last lifted the NBA Championship in the 1998 in Michael Jordan’s final season with the franchise under Phil Jackson. The Bulls endured a period of decline following the departures of both Jordan and Jackson, failing to reach the NBA Finals since claiming their sixth title.
Chicago’s fanbase were given hope due to the excellence of Derrick Rose for a period. Rose was named MVP of the 2010/11 season as the Bulls surged to the Eastern Conference Finals under the tenure of Tom Thibodeau. However, the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh loomed large to dismantle the Bulls by a 4-1 margin.
The Bulls were on the pathway to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals after a 50-win campaign the following term. Only for the hopes to be shattered by Rose’s torn ACL sustained in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers that ended their hopes. Jimmy Butler offered hope alongside Rose in the 2014/15 campaign, but the presence of LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers dashed their attempt in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Hope For The Future
Since their disappointment in the 2014/15 season, the Bulls have reached the playoffs only once out of the last six seasons. That could be about to change under Billy Donovan, who has found the right tune out of the Bulls in the early stages of the new campaign, and they are contenders for the NBA crown in the NBA betting odds provided by Betway at 29.00 to win the championship.
DeMar DeRozan was acquired from the San Antonio Spurs before the franchise secured a similar deal to sign Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans. DeRozan has provided the veteran presence on the court that the Bulls were crying out for in recent terms. The forward has enjoyed a distinguished NBA career with the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs, and has continued his run with a fine start to life with the Bulls.
The 32-year-old has excelled in the final third of the court, averaging 26.6 points per game in his first 15 contests as a Bull. Ball has continued in his development after a solid season with the Pelicans in his fourth season in the league. He has quietly gone about his business on the court and has become an asset for Donovan to utilise. Their presence was felt in a statement win for the Bulls on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers, with both DeRozan and Ball notching season-highs in points.
The additions of Ball and DeRozan have been vital for the Bulls in easing the pressure on Zach LaVine. The 26-year-old is one of the best guards in the NBA, but has been burdened by the pressure of being the focal point of the franchise without support. Now that DeRozan and Ball along with Nikola Vucevic are in the line-up around LaVine, Chicago have a strong scoring and defensive unit that can challenge the best in the Eastern Conference.
The Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship last season courtesy of a brilliant run to the NBA Finals. However, the Bucks have come back to the pack due to an injury to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Now that the Greek has returned to the court it will be no surprise to see the Bucks improve their standing, but Milwaukee are not the only side to be concerned about from a Chicago perspective.
The Washington Wizards have followed the Bulls out of obscurity this term after making a fine start to the campaign. Bradley Beal fought a lone battle in the mould of LaVine for a number of years, but now seemingly has the support around him to allow Beal and Washington to thrive.
The Brooklyn Nets are arguably the most formidable team on paper, with two former MVPs Kevin Durant and James Harden still operating near the peak of their powers. If Kyrie Irving returns to action, then the Nets will have a powerful trifecta that can overwhelm any team in the NBA. Even sides that have struggled at the start of the campaign are worth monitoring due to their star talent.
The Atlanta Hawks surged all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and were only beaten by the quality Giannis and the Bucks, and have the ability to make a run with Trae Young at their disposal. The Boston Celtics have the powerful tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown at hand if they can resolve their issues with consistency. The Philadelphia 76ers remain a threat with Joel Embiid and company, although they’ve flattered to deceive of late.
There will be no easy road to the NBA Finals for the Bulls, but there are plenty of examples of a team ethos providing a greater effect than star power. The Bucks and the Hawks were built around one key man, but he did need others to ease the burden now and then. Chicago now have that balance to make a run and end their title drought.