Where will the Bulls finish? Sam Smith’s 2022-23 NBA Standings Predictions

Another op’nin’, some other Show
Another op’nin’, some other display
In Philly, Boston or Baltimore,

A possibility for stagefolks to mention “hi”
Another op’nin’, another show.

Another job that you hope, at last, 
Will make your future forget your past,
Another pain where the ulcers grow
Another op’nin’, another show

For weeks, you rehearse and rehearse,
Three weeks and it couldn’t be worse.
One week, will it ever be right?
Then out o’ the hat, it’s that big first night!

The overture is about to start,
You cross your fingers and hold your heart,
It’s curtain time and away we go,
Another op’nin’, another show

—Cole Porter, Kiss me, Kate

The Big Show begins Tuesday in Boston with Philadelphia, and then it’s on the move ‘cross country’ to San Francisco for the heavyweight battle between Draymond Green…and Tyson Fury? C’mon, smile—you too, Draymond—it’s opening night in the NBA with a double header of the Celtics and 76ers and Lakers and Warriors.

And there’s nothing like the pain, the ulcers, the highs and the lows of an NBA season. Especially what you don’t know and might anticipate. Are the Golden State Warriors chasing immortality while LeBron merely chases Kareem? Just what is Kyrie actually up to now? Are they making the Clippers play more than a 50-game season? How long does a Process really last? Is Cleveland for real or just Cavalier? Is Zion truly Biblical in proportion? Is Ja now a literal exclamation? And who will consider themselves the big winner if they have the Finals championship trophy presentation and the Draft Lottery on the same day?

1. Philadelphia 76ers: We take for granted Joel Embiid’s health since he’s been reasonably reliable the last few years, at least considering modern NBA standards. But there were all those foot problems that cost him most of his first two seasons and a lot of physical play since. Let’s get him at least one MVP. This seems like the close of the Process. They added the tough guys who make a difference in P.J. Tucker and Montreal Harrell and it looks like in Tyrese Maxey they have a real scorer to give James Harden more space. When Tobias Harris is your fifth best starter you have some options.

2. Boston Celtics: There are some concerns there with a permanent interim coach and now defense anchor Robert Williams more wounded than they’d expected. Malcolm Brogdon is an ideal addition for backcourt depth, but there’s a big watch out there with a career of game time decisions. But consider how far they went after they seemed on the verge of being broken up for most of the first half of last season. Heck, it seems like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown even like Marcus Smart now. I loved that they turned down the Sports Illustrated cover shoot unless Smart was included. And, no, not because he was supposed to bring the snacks.

3. Brooklyn Nets: Well, they were in first place last season even without Kyrie Irving until Kevin Durant was hurt. There’s a lot of offense there that really can’t be stopped, isolation or not. And that’s even before Joe Harris and Seth Curry get healthy. And what if T.J. Warren ever plays? Ben Simmons also should be rested. They probably could coach themselves, which they seem to want to. 

4. Milwaukee Bucks: This is more a regular season analysis. They seem to prefer to ease into the season with veterans like Brook Lopez, and Khris Middleton has had myriad injury issues since that slip against the Bulls in the playoffs. Yes, they say, if only we had Middleton. How much can Serge Ibaka and George Hill still give them, and is that Bobby Portis looking at me like that with those eyes?

5. Bulls. Homer alert! Homer alert! I know, it’s the team website, but they are not making me. It’s just I’m not sure about some of the others, and I think a couple of Bulls elements are under the radar because the latest Lonzo Ball surgery has had everyone insisting there’s nothing to see there; keep moving. Not that players really pay much or any attention to the so called critics’ slights, but it does seem like a group that will play hard and sneak up on some teams and steal some games, and have real closers in DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. I know nobody has them here, but if you go with the pack then you never have a chance to give everyone an I-told-you-so. Then if you miss you can rely on hardly anyone remembering.

6. Atlanta Hawks: They’ve been one of those  shoulda-been-better teams who should now be a lot better with the Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray. Everyone was all over Trae Young and they still were OK; this should make for a big difference. They also should defend better than their reputation with Clint Capella and Onyeka Okongwu. Oh right, John Collins still is there.

7. Miami Heat: Just because with Jimmy Butler you can’t give up on them too much. If Kyle Lowry were more available it would be different, but he’s had a lot of different physical problems, which is a concern. They hope Victor Oladipo recovers his form, but we haven’t seen much of that. Still, you never count them out with their shooting, Erik Spoelstra’s coaching, Butler’s toughness and opponents spending the previous night in South Beach.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Right, I’m not sold. They’re the it team of this season, at least in the East with the Donovan Mitchell acquisition. I do think it’s an excellent addition, especially for a team that couldn’t really rely on scoring other than Darius Garland. Or anyone not saying, ‘C’mon, not Cleveland.’ But Mitchell dominated the ball with the Jazz, which will be an adjustment, and I’m still not sure of the going big whenever everyone else is not. Hey, where’s Lauri?

9. Toronto Raptors: I want to place them higher because I like the way they play, and the coach is really clever and innovative. I just couldn’t figure out where. And it’s the Bulls web site! Not the Raptors! Other than Fred VanVleet they have that modern dream NBA scenario of everyone able to switch and defend the pick and roll. But with their size they really have to battle inside and it’s going to put pressure on the staff to explain the various Otto Porter Jr. injuries.

10. New York Knickerbockers: Yes, that’s how I remember them growing up. I also think there’s some growing up being done among their young players, and they could be with the Bulls as that other under-the-radar team everyone dismisses. We know Thibs counts the regular season a lot, and since New York coaches go on the hot seat the day they are hired, Thibs knows this may be it without a good season. They’ve got depth and size and a tough lead guard in Jalen Brunson with Derrick Rose healthy and in reserve. Watch that space.

11. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal returns, and that should mean something since they did have 35 wins last season without him. They do appear to have a lot of scoring with Kristaps Porzingis and Will Barton an overlooked addition. That’s what Taj Gibson is, and you never want to overlook him. But it’s still unclear how they’ll play just as it was every time they played.

12. Charlotte Hornets: Maybe Mike’s ready to sell his team to LeBron? And now LaMelo Ball starts the season injured, though with an ankle sprain that should not be too long. He’s fun to watch and Gordon Hayward is back, at least for now. That’s a guy who must have upset something in the Force. Talk about if not one thing it’s another. So rookie James Bouknight starts with a DUI charge and there was all that Miles Bridges ugliness. No wonder Mike seems to prefer golf and auto racing.

13. Detroit Pistons: Everyone seems anxious to watch them with all the young talent, but it’s difficult to see how that equates to wins. They’re sort of like scouting the NCAA tournament to get your first good look at the big names in the draft. But the next draft is what they and the rest of the East are all about for this season.

14. Indiana Pacers: They’ve likely got their eyes on No. 15, also, but for now they still have Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. You mean they haven’t been traded yet? Maybe midseason for Westbrook? I really like their rookie, Bennedict Mathurin, who looks NBA ready along with Sacramento’s guy. It’s Tyrese Haliburton’s team, which no one was much saying when he was drafted. I still can’t believe they traded Sabonis.

15. Orlando Magic: And if they can get just one more No. 1 pick with the one they still have coming from the Bulls and the guys they’ve been adding, like Paolo Banchero… yes, watch out, it’s Shaq and Penny again. So at least it’s a plan. Until then, hey, Wendell Carter Jr. still is there.

1. Golden State Warriors: How the heck did they win last year? Klay Thompson easing back, Andrew Wiggins carrying them in big games. Really, that happened? Now James Wiseman gets added with some of those other top draft picks we all said they needed to trade to win. And they won and they kept them. And they’ve got fresh sea food and bread bowls. C’mon, it’s just not fair. And, yes, that Curry, who can be hotter.

2. New Orleans Pelicans: This really means I have no idea after No. 1. I know the Clippers are a hot topic, but it’s tough to believe Paul George and Kawhi Leonard plan to play that much. The Suns need a new boss, Ja reminds me too much of some of Derrick Rose’s issues, and I still have to be persuaded about the health of Denver’s returning guys. But Zion is returning and looks pretty good and C.J. McCollum leads a pretty deep guard core.

3. Los Angeles Clippers: So I won’t drop them too far. I kid Leonard and George about their part time jobs, though I doubt they know. John Wall should fit, I guess. There’s so many guards maybe the Bulls could persuade them to offer Luke Kennard, who really can shoot and doesn’t get much chance. A lot depends on Leonard having a renewed sense of purpose, and we never know with him. They have a bit of that Toronto switching roster theme, but not always the attendance.

4. Denver Nuggets: It’s really all about Jamal Murray, who was looking as good as any of the star wing players a few years back. But serious knee injuries have an effect. The difference with him is he wasn’t the greatest athlete, which may be some positive, but then does he lose too much of what he had? Michael Porter Jr. has reverted into a tall shooter. They’ve got a bunch of veteran role players. It’s what a two-time MVP is supposed to do to make them relevant.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves. The Rudy/Karl-Anthony pairing is one of the most intriguing to-watch developments for the season. How does that work? They’ve got a real star in the making in Anthony Edwards and what should be a heck of a defensive back line. D’Angelo Russell as your fifth starter works if he accepts that. 

6. Phoenix Suns: Too far to drop them? There seem to be issues there beyond the Sarver sale. Many continue to speculate they’ll move Deandre Ayton once he’s eligible in midseason after he had to get a restricted free agent offer. That’s a potential balance of power changer if it comes to that, though new ownership also could be a factor. Chris Paul generally has some health issues with playing enough games. It just seems like with Jae Crowder asking out there are too many cracks in that previously sturdy wall.

7. Memphis Grizzlies: They were the surprise team of last season, if not the last several, with such an appealing attitude of resenting anyone who thought they were better. As good as Ja Morant was, they continued to win, anyway. He’s really good and amazing to watch, but seems to put himself at risk so often in the air that you want to close your eyes sometime. The problem is they can’t keep Jaren Jackson healthy and lost De’Anthony Melton (another good 76ers addition) and Kyle Anderson with little in return.

8. Dallas Mavericks: The West isn’t really great, but pretty even after the Warriors. It seems like any of them can toggle between two and probably the Lakers after this. The Mavs take a loss with Jalen Brunson, who was underutilized there—as any ballhandler would be—because Luka won’t give up the ball. It’s understandable as he does some amazing things with it, but he’s got it too much to go too far. Be interesting to see how scorer Christian Wood works in.

9. Los Angeles Lakers: The over/under for being first NBA story on the nightly SportsCenter highlight show is five days a week for the race for the play-in. There’s the Russell Westbrook saga of now maybe coming off the bench, though to be fair, which is difficult on a LeBron team, Westbrook gets blamed for most everything, and probably the Dodgers collapse. LeBron needs about 1,300 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring total, so he’ll probably play. Expect him to shoot a lot.

10. Sacramento Kings: Well, at least Mike Brown will talk to them a lot about defense. And if they can stay wake who knows. They’ve really got some fun players now with Domantas Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox, rookie Keegan Murray and Davion Mitchell. They’ve got a chance to break the longest non-playoff streak, and you wish they finally would as no one should suffer like that.

11. Portland Trailblazers: At least the Bulls are rooting for them to finally make the playoffs and get that draft pick. Damian Lillard is back from injury and they added Jerami Grant, so there’s a chance. With Lillard and Bradley Beal in DC locking in long time, the era of the super team is about over. It’s time to take the money and run since both will be fortunate to make the playoffs the rest of their careers. Nothing wrong with that; it’s still a good job and nice security.

12. Houston Rockets: They’ve got a lot of kid scoring, so it’s going to be curious how that all sorts out. Jalen Green really came on last season and now Jabari Smith, whom many thought would be the No. 1 pick. There’s another hot pick in Tari Eason and there’s Kevin Porter Jr. And everyone seems to love Alperen Sengun, whenever he is. And no one’s getting the ball away from Eric Gordon who, yes, still is there. How that works is tough to figure.

13. Utah Jazz: Collin Sexton away. Shoot, kid, shoot. Danny Ainge still has some work to do to chase bottom, but it takes time when you go from potential little contender to top lottery contender. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense with the team seeming to plateau and the coach taking off. Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley still need homes. Finland is going to discover the Wasatch Mountains and Lauri is going to be firing away.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder: It’s sort of the 76ers Process theory about having to hit just once. It’s Wembanyama this time. They got a delay with Chet Holmgrem out injured this season, and wouldn’t that be something to see with Aleksej Pokusevski with those two? What’s happening with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander amidst all this? Many GMs are wondering.

15. San Antonio Spurs: Well, they did it before and got Tim Duncan. Once they traded Dejounte Murray the race to the bottom was on. There’s some thought Jakob Poeltl is next, and he’d be a big addition somewhere. If Doug McDermott was as shot oriented as he needs to be he might lead the league in scoring. But if he were he might still be with the Bulls.

The contents of this web page have now not been reviewed or counseled by way of the Chicago Bulls. All critiques expressed by way of Sam Smith are only his personal and don’t mirror the critiques of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations personnel, mother or father corporate, companions, or sponsors. His assets don’t seem to be recognized to the Bulls and he has no particular get right of entry to to data past the get right of entry to and privileges that move at the side of being an NBA permitted member of the media.

Leave a Comment