Bulls Insider

Bulls' odds to win lottery are greater than playoffs'


As of Monday afternoon, the Chicago Bulls held better odds to win the NBA draft lottery at 8.3 percent than they did to make the playoffs at 6 percent.

To this point, the organization’s public stance has been to make the playoffs, not improve draft lottery odds. The Bulls would have to finish in the top-four of the draft lottery to keep their pick or else it conveys to the Orlando Magic as part of the Nikola Vucevic trade.

Executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said on media day last September that his expectation was for internal improvement. The Bulls would have to go 17-0 beginning on Wednesday night against the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets to match last season’s 46-36 mark.

Thus, not only making the playoffs but winning a playoff round would be the only way for the Bulls to meet Karnišovas’ publicly stated expectation.

Karnišovas then doubled down on the stance at the Feb. 9 trade deadline, affirmatively answering a question on whether or not he envisioned the Bulls making the playoffs.

The Bulls are 3-8 since the trade deadline passed. They have dropped to 12th in the Eastern Conference, currently 1 ½ games behind the 10th-place Washington Wizards.

The Bulls own the tiebreaker over the Wizards, who own the 18th- toughest remaining schedule as of opponents’ winning percentage from Monday morning. The Bulls have the 13th-toughest schedule.

The Indiana Pacers, who, after moving ahead of the Bulls with a season-series-winning victory at the United Center on Sunday, dropped back to 12th with Monday's loss to the 76ers, have a middle-of-the-pack, 15th- toughest schedule.

The Toronto Raptors currently sit ninth with a three-game lead over the Pacers and Bulls, over whom they hold the tiebreaker. The Raptors face the league’s second-toughest schedule as of Monday.

After 65 games last season, 35 of which Lonzo Ball played in, the Bulls posted a 36-29 record. This season, they’ve reversed that, going 29-36. That projects out to a 37-45 record.

As coach Billy Donovan has pointed out multiple times, there’s no single issue plaguing the Bulls. Generally speaking, a lack of consistency can serve as an umbrella reason.

But for instance, the Bulls’ defense climbed into the top-10 in part fueled by elite defensive rebounding and limiting turnovers. Yet in back-to-back losses to the Phoenix Suns and Pacers, opponent second-chance points and points off turnovers played significant storylines.

An underachieving offense has been one common theme, however. The Bulls currently own an offensive rating ranked 24th, dragged down considerably their cellar-dwelling 3-point makes and attempts.

The Bulls’ defensive rating currently sits seventh, while their net rating of plus-0.3 ranks 16th. That net rating actually is better than three teams---Miami, Atlanta and Washington---currently holding play-in spots.

But the Bulls have found all kinds of ways to lose games. In fact, they’re 11-22 in “clutch” games, defined by a game being within five points or less with 5 minutes to play. That’s tied for the third-fewest such victories in the league.

Last season, the Bulls finished 25-16 in such games. That victory total tied for the league’s third-most.

What a difference a year makes---on multiple levels.

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