CHICAGO – It’s a feeling that hasn’t been around the franchise for some time, but it is a little refreshing for a fanbase that’s watched the team sit near the bottom of the NBA the last few seasons.
But that’s what an influx of some proven talent has done for the Bulls ahead of their 2021-2022 season. No one is saying the team is going to win a championship, but for the first time since the Derrick Rose era, there is hope the team could have reasonable success and, perhaps, get towards the top of the Eastern Conference.
“We have a positive outlook on everything,” said point guard Lonzo Ball, one of the new arrivals that have brought some optimism for the upcoming campaign. “This is a brand new situation for a lot of guys, including myself. But I think we had a great training camp, a pretty good preseason, and, like I said, we all excited to play tomorrow.”
Whether they’ll have anything for the Bucks, Nets, or Hawks is to be seen, but a 4-0 preseason helped to fuel some optimism. Whether that’s real or not begins to take shape on Wednesday as the Bulls take the court for the regular season for the first time against the Pistons in Detroit at 6 PM.
New players like Ball, Demar DeRozan, Alex Caruso add into the group with Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams, and Coby White (when he returns from a shoulder injury). Creating chemistry is going to be the key for head coach Billy Donovan as essentially a new group takes the floor this season.
The strong preseason has raised hopes that were already there from the offseason moves, but Donovan was quick to put that in perspective.
“I think the willingness of those guys to try to figure things out, to work together to figure out how to play with one another, they’ve done a good job. I think their work ethic between the lines has been very, very good,” said Donovan. “Sometimes the preseason for me is a little bit harder for me to really get a gauge on it because we played New Orleans and there is no Brandon Ingram and there was no Zion. We ended up playing Cleveland and there’s no Sexton and Garland. Sometimes guys didn’t play guys so it’s really hard.
“We try to evaluate how are we playing, are we doing things that are sustainable.”
So that preseason optimism can end up being real as the 82-game campaign continues.