On the morning of Dec. 8, the Chicago Bulls had a 3-20 record and, frankly, few were surprised. It is fair to say that the Bulls won’t expected to win only three of the team’s first 23 games but, in the same breath, many projected Chicago to finish with the worst record in the NBA and their early-season performance served as confirmation for that hypothesis.
On cue, Nikola Mirotic returned and, since then, the Bulls have a shiny 14-7 record that would have been absolutely unthinkable. Is the team’s entire turnaround attributable to Mirotic’s presence? Well, no. Still, his infusion of positive performance has helped in aiding Chicago’s rise and the Bulls have enjoyed some favorable bounces in close games along the way.
Chicago’s net rating (+0.9 points per 100 possessions) over that 21-game sample is nothing to be overly excited about and it underscores the fortunate run in terms of a win-loss showing. The Bulls have certainly turned things around, however, and their winning spurt has basically erased any notion of Fred Hoiberg’s team finishing “ahead” of the Hawks, Kings, Suns and Magic (among others) for the worst mark in the sport.
It is fair and, potentially, accurate to believe that the Bulls will have all kinds of trouble replicating this level of success over the last 45 percent of the season. In fact, a simple look at the roster (even with Mirotic and Zach LaVine healthy) would provide a quick reminder that this team is playing over its head. There is something to be said for getting up off the mat, though, and the Bulls have done that while whispers of the team “ruining” its tanking effort occurring in the background.
How high has Chicago’s performance vaulted them in our Dime Power Rankings this week? Let’s find out.