Chicago Bulls

Fact or Fiction: Five key storylines surrounding the Chicago Bulls leading into the 2021-22 season

The Chicago Bulls were among the most active teams in the 2021 offseason.

They made quite the splash, landing the likes of Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan with sign-and-trade deals. They also added Alex Caruso (free agency) and Derrick Jones Jr. (trade) to their existing All-Star duo of Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucecvic.

Purely by the talent on the roster, there's bound to be pressure on the Bulls to not only make the playoffs but make some noise in the postseason.

MORE: Examining DeRozan's fit on the Bulls | DeRozan speaks on focus with Bulls

With the 2021-22 regular season nearly upon us, NBA.com's Yash Matange and Benyam Kidane play a game of "Fact or Fiction" with the revamped Bulls:

The Chicago Bulls will be a Top-5 team in the East

Benyam Kidane ( @BenyamKidane ): Fiction. I think the Bulls will be good, but the top half of the Eastern Conference is as stacked as ever. As it stands, I have the Bucks, Nets, Heat, Hawks and Knicks above them, not to mention the 76ers as well as the Celtics who will be jostling for seeding in the middle of the pack.

With so many new parts, it might take a while for the Bulls to get going and we might not see them in full flight till the second half of the season.

Yash Matange ( @yashmatange2694 ): Fiction. Despite their offseason additions, it's difficult to see the Bulls make such a big leap considering they finished 11th in the East last season. Given how top-heavy the East will be going into the 2021-22 season, it seems highly unlikely that the Bulls can avoid the Play-In Tournament.

They would need everything to go right for them and everything to go in the opposite directions for teams like the Knicks, Hawks and 76ers for them to finish in the Top 5.

Zach LaVine will be included in the MVP conversation

Kidane: Fact. LaVine isn't in the top 20 as far as the odds are concerned, but that could shift dramatically if the Bulls put together a strong regular-season record and finish in the top 4 of the Eastern Conference.

Last season, he finished seventh in the league in scoring at 27.4 points per game, often having to create scoring opportunities for himself, but playing alongside DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball will make getting buckets even easier for him.

He's yet to make an appearance in the postseason, but with the added confidence of a gold medal run at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, LaVine has everything in place for a big season in Chicago.

Matange: Fact. There's a difference between being in the conversation and being among the contenders. I don't believe LaVine would legitimately contend for the MVP but I do believe he will carry the momentum of the past two seasons and be part of the conversation on a consistent basis.

LaVine averaged 27.4 points last season while nearly shooting 50-40-90 and this season, with the wealth of talent around him, defences will not be able to give him the same level of attention and he is bound to capitalize on that. If the Bulls can win enough games to combine with his All-Star play, LaVine could rank among the MVP contenders for a brief period of the season.

The Bulls will be a Top-10 defence in the NBA

Kidane: Fact. A lot of the conversation surrounding their off-season moves has been centred on their offence, but with the addition of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, the Bulls have a real chance at becoming one of the best defensive teams in the league.

Last season, they ranked 12th in defensive efficiency and were seventh in opponent 3-point percentage. Adding the former Lakers duo alongside Year 2 of Patrick Williams, who is already a great switching defender and the Bulls will be a tough matchup on any given night.

Matange: Fact. I tried really hard to think of an argument to disagree with Kidane but I couldn't cling on to anything legitimate. The fact that they finished 12th last season and have added the likes of Caruso and Ball is sure to bolster their play on that end of the floor. Given his history, DeRozan could be a liability on defence but given the youth and talent of players around him, he should be able to do enough to not hurt the team too much.

Coby White will emerge as a Sixth Man of the Year favourite

Kidane: Fact. Over his first two seasons, the Bulls have asked Coby White to be something that he's not as a ball-handling point guard, but with the moves they've made in the summer, we'll see him head back to the bench doing what he does best. Getting buckets.

With more of a license to score against second units instead of starters, White will have an opportunity to play to his strengths and after putting up 15.1 points per game in 31.2 minutes as a starter last season, those numbers could jump to the 18-20 mark.

Matange: Fiction. Simply by role and fit, yes, Coby White could emerge as the front runner for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. White has given us a display of what he's capable of from a scoring standpoint and with Caruso next to him off the bench, he should be able to do just that.

However, he is coming off a torn labrum in his left shoulder and despite all the positive talk around his rehab, I've got to see it to believe it.

MORE: NBA.com's picks for 2021-22 Sixth Man of the Year

2021-22 will be the beginning of a run of success for the Bulls new front-office regime

Kidane: Fact. It hasn't taken long for the Chicago front office duo of Artūras Karnišovas Marc Eversley to flip their young talent for experienced veterans and more importantly having most under long-term contracts, outside of LaVine.

LaVine is in the final year of his deal, set to become a free agent next summer and a lot of their future success hinges on him committing his future to Chicago. If they make the playoffs and give him a taste of success, I can see this core sticking together for a while and building on their strong foundation.

Matange: Fact. Again difficult to argue against given the track record of the new regime so far. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, within the matter of a year, have turned things around and brought about a sense of optimism in Chicago. Despite the roster turnover this offseason, they have done so while maintaining a great balance of youth and experience, which should be key to bringing prolonged success for the Bulls.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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