Will the Chicago Bulls make the playoffs in 2021-22?
That’s the question the official Hoops Hype Twitter account posed on Saturday. It was aimed at fans, but a former Bulls big man and well-traveled, retired NBA veteran decided to drop a slightly unrelated, but still interesting response. Drew Gooden, who played 14 seasons in the NBA for 10 different teams dropped this reply to Hoops Hype’s question:
Well, Mr. Gooden, Bulls fans everywhere love to hear people affirm Patrick Williams, but it doesn’t completely answer the question, or does it?
Getting back to the question posed by Hoops Hype, Chicago needs the answer to this question to be yes. Making the playoffs this season is as important for the Bulls as it has been since Michael Jordan was leading the team to six championships in eight years.
Why It’s Playoffs or Bust for the Chicago Bulls in 2021-22?
During the offseason, Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley revamped the nearly the entire roster.
Aside from Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Coby White, Troy Brown Jr., Javonte Green and Williams, every other member of the roster will be a newcomer. The Bulls spent a ton of money to acquire Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso.
Budget deals secured Stanley Johnson, Alize Johnson and Tony Bradley. International prospect Marko Simonovic, former Slam-Dunk champion Derrick Jones Jr. and rookie Ayo Dosunmu will likely round out the roster once it is finalized.
While the Bulls didn’t exactly create a super team, they did spend heavily on multiple talented players. The injection of talent mixed with what the Bulls hope will be a melding of qualities between LaVine and Vucevic should make the postseason not only a possibility, but an expectation.
The consequences of falling short of the goal could be dire.
LaVine is set to be a free agent at the end of the upcoming season. If the Bulls aren’t a playoff team by the All-Star break, the trade calls will begin to come in heavy for LaVine. That will present Bulls management with a major conundrum. With the possibility of LaVine leaving and the team losing a prime talent for nothing, Chicago might have to listen to offers if the team isn’t seriously competing. LaVine has said he wants to be in Chicago, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension, so there is always room for a change of heart.
If the Bulls elected to trade LaVine, it would likely be the first event in what amounts to another rebuild–or at least a partial restart. That approach could also lead to a trade of Vucevic, whose issues on defense might be one of the team’s toughest impediments to overcome.
If this happens to Chicago, we might see AKME get some major local criticism for the first time.
Why Drew Gooden’s Answer May Be More Accurate Than it Immediately Appears
You may have dismissed Gooden’s answer as disconnected, but remember, tweets can only be 140 characters. Williams becoming a “beast” next season could be the detail that pushes Chicago over the top. Unfortunately, Williams suffered a severely sprained ankle earlier this month.
He is expected to miss four to six weeks. He should be ready for the start of the season, but for the second straight year, he will be going without a full training camp.
Last year, COVID-19 restrictions all but eliminated training camp. This year, an ankle will rob Williams of what could be a valuable experience. The hope in Chicago is that he can still hit the ground running with his new teammates and help push the team into the postseason.
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