CHICAGO – It was about a year ago this time that fans of the Bulls were feeling something about their team that they’d hadn’t for a while: Optimism.

A reassembled core that included emerging star Zach LaVine, 2021 deadline acquisition Nikola Vucevic, along with newcomers Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso stormed out to a quick start.

Through 24 games, they were 16-8, playing some of the best basketball for the team since the late Derrick Rose days of the franchise. It was excitement that was welcome after little success during the Fred Hoiberg and Jim Boylen tenure.

Reality would settle in for the rest of the season as injuries, especially the one to Ball, along with a tougher schedule led to a slip in results for the Bulls. They’d still qualify for the playoffs but were a quick out against the defending champion Bucks in the first round.

Still without Ball and with nearly the same team in 2022-2023, the Bulls have been as sluggish as they were at the end of the year during the start of this campaign. Through 24 games, they sit at 10-14, finally reaching the double-digit mark in victories much later than last year after a 115-111 win over the Wizards Wednesday at the United Center.

In 2021-2022, they got that in their 14th game of the season on their way to that fast start. It took ten games longer this year, but that victory was much needed after losses in four of their last five games.

Make no mistake, this win came courtesy of the Bulls’ stars.

DeRozan finished with 27 points while LaVine and Vucevic finished with 25 each, marking the 13th time that three have gone over the 20-point mark with the team, per Bulls public relations.

The Bulls have three of their next four games at home, starting with the Mavericks on Saturday night before facing the Hawks in Atlanta on Sunday. Then comes a back-to-back with the Knicks at the United Center on December 14 and 16.