CHICAGO – Things can certainly change quickly and that has been the case for this era of the Chicago Bulls.

In 2022, they were sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference in hopes of setting themselves up for a good spot in the playoffs. Twelve months later, the Bulls are now outside of the playoff picture, coming off the All-Star Break on a long losing streak, and don’t have nearly as promising of a future as they did a year ago.

It’s a critical time for Billy Donovan to see if he can turn things around in the final 23 games while the front office evaluates members of the team’s core to see what they might do moving forward.

Here are a few things to look for as the Bulls being the stretch run of their 2022-2023 season against the Nets at the United Center.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Can the Bulls make the playoffs?

They’ve got some work to do over the final 23 games thanks to that six-game losing streak they had to finish up before the All-Star break, including five straight after making no trades before the deadline.

As of Friday night, the Bulls are 2 1/2 games behind the Wizards and Raptors for the last two play-in spots in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls will face the Wizards on Sunday at home and the Raptors on the road Tuesday.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

For Finishers

Closing out games has been an issue in the fourth quarter for the Bulls all season long, especially during their recent six-game losing skid.

According to, the Bulls have a 10-20 record in “Clutch” situations, which is defined as a game that’s within at least five points with five minutes or less to go. That puts them in a tie for 28th in the NBA in winning percentage when it comes to playing well when it counts.

The Bulls are currently 26th in points scored in the fourth quarter, getting 26.5 in the final 12 minutes of games.

The Homecoming For Patrick

One of the more interesting storylines at the finish is the addition of Patrick Beverley during the All-Star break after he was bought out by the Magic after a trade from the Lakers.

The Chicago native and former Marshall High School standout is in his 11th NBA season and the team hopes that he can bring some energy and strong defense to the team. Both have been trademarks of his play in his career as he’s been named to one NBA All-Defensive first team and a pair of second teams.

Beverley had 45 starts for the Lakers before his trade.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Nikola’s Future in Chicago

One of the bigger decisions that the Bulls will immediately have to make is concerning their center who is in the last year of his contract, even if it seems like the ball is in Nikola Vucevic’s court.

Executive VP Arturas Karnisovas made it fairly clear in his post-trade deadline news conference that he would like to have the two-time All-Star back as he continues to craft the current team. But Vucevic’s play could give provide him options should he decide to test the free agent market.

In his third season with the Bulls, the center has seen a jump in his field goal percentage (51.6 percent) and three-point percentage (35.6 percent) from last season while averaging 17.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per contest.

What will become of this core?

While Vucevic is a free agent, a number of members of the team are not, and if they miss the playoffs there could be a few decisions for Karnisovas to make.

Would he consider a major trade with someone else from the core, like a DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine, this offseason if the Bulls’ woes continue? A lot could depend on what he sees over the final 23 games of the season.

Remember, the Bulls only get a first round pick if their selection is in the top four of the draft, which wouldn’t happen if the Bulls make the playoffs.