Chicago Bulls: Three Early Takeaways from 2021-22 NBA Season

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The Chicago Bulls defeated the Toronto Raptors on Monday night by a narrow 111-108 margin. With the win, the Bulls have posted victories in each of their first four games of the season.

Chicago Bulls: Three Early Takeaways from 2021-22 NBA Season

You would have to go back quite a bit to the last time the Bulls started a season with a 4-0 record I will save you the trouble by letting you know that it has been 25 years since the last time the Bulls started a season with a 4-0 record.

Sure, two of their win came against the Detroit Pistons — a team that is winless through its first three contests. Another win came against the New Orleans Pelicans, who have produced just one win in four games.

However, there are no apologies required for a somewhat soft schedule early on. And after all, you have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat, and so far, the Bulls have done exactly that. So without further delay, here are some early takeaways from the Bulls’ 2021-22 season.

1. Bulls are holding their own defensively

The Bulls have been middle-of-the-road from a defensive standpoint at best. But that narrative has been flipped on its head at the start of this season. For example, they are holding opponents to 97.5 points per contest. That is the fourth-best mark in the NBA. Also, Chicago is also ranked in the top-10 in opponents’ field-goal percentage (10th – 43.7 percent) and three-point shooting (8th – 33 percent). Not too shabby for a squad that finished 23rd in opponents’ overall shooting percentage last season. If the Bulls have any hopes of ending their four-year playoff drought they will need to continue to excel in this area.

2. Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are as disruptive as they come

To say that the Bulls have struggled to find consistent play at the point guard position would be an understatement of sorts. With that deficiency in mind, the Bulls acquired former New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball. While Ball struggled somewhat during his first two seasons in the league, that wasn’t the case during his 2020-21 campaign.

In fact, he posted career-hights in points (14.6), overall efficiency (41.4 percent), and three-point shooting (37.8 percent). If you thought knows numbers were an aberration, you’d be sorely mistaken. His 14.3 points per contest are right on par with his scoring output from last season. He is also averaging 5.8 rebounds to go along with five assists as well.

If you were worried about overall shooting numbers, don’t be. Ball is shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from the three-point line. Plus his two steals per game ranks third on the Bulls roster.

Another notable offseason acquisition goes by the name of Alex Caruso. As Bulls fans know, Caruso spent the last four years as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers bench. In addition to his respectable eight points per contest, Caruso leads the team in steals with 3.3 per outing This includes two of Chicago’s 11 swipes in their recent win against the Raptors. Defensive intensity has been a missing component from this squad since the days of Tom Thibodeau. However, Ball and Caruso are giving the fan base something to be excited about at that end of the floor.

3. Bulls have another wing scorer in DeMar DeRozan

Over the past few seasons, the Bulls have relied on Zach LaVine to carry the scoring load. While he has put up some amazing numbers (27.4 PPG last season), one player can only carry a team so far.

That being said, the Bulls added DeMar DeRozan to the mix and the acquisition has paid huge dividends. For instance, in the team’s win over the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 23, DeRozan chipped in with 21 points. This was important as LaVine had an off night, scoring just 14 points (his lowest output of the season)  on 6-for-18 shooting from the field.

In the team’s win over DeRozan’s former team, DeRozan’s ability to close a game was on full display. After jumping out to a 20-point lead in the third quarter, the Raptors clawed their way back into the contest to make things interesting down the stretch.

But thanks to DeRozan’s 26 points, including 11 in the final frame, the Bulls escaped with a three-point victory. This is a game the Bulls probably would have lost last season But with the mix of players they have on the roster this season, they have found different ways to win games, even when LaVine is having an off night.