The Chicago Bulls’ Projected 5 Starting Lineup for the 2022–23 Season
Coming off of a bittersweet 2021–22 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, the Chicago Bulls have high expectations for the 2022–23 season but are projected to be a middle-of-the-pack team, at least according to betting odds to win the championship. BetOnline Sportsbooks lists the team as +6600 to win the NBA Finals, behind 17 other teams including Eastern Conference rivals Toronto Raptors (+4000), Cleveland Cavaliers (+2500), and Milwaukee Bucks (+700).
Chicago made the playoffs for the first time in four seasons in 2021 but struggled down the stretch due to injuries and inconsistent play. The team lost to the Bucks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. While many other teams in the Eastern Conference made major moves in hopes to improve their rosters, the Bulls made minor tweaks by signing veterans Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond.
Thus, the Bulls will begin the 2022–23 season with largely the same starting lineup they had previously. However, point guard Lonzo Ball, who was limited to just 35 games in 2021 due to a meniscus tear in his left knee, underwent an arthroscopic debridement in late September 2022. He’s expected to miss “at least a few months,” according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
1. Alex Caruso (Point Guard)
Ball’s extended absence is significant as he was a key component of the Bulls’ offense in 2021, averaging 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. While it’s uncertain as to who will replace him in the starting lineup once the season begins, Alex Caruso is more than a worthy candidate.
A 28-year-old native of College Station, Texas, Caruso started 18 of 41 games in the 2021 season and averaged 7.4 points, 4 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. He’s adept at cutting to the basket and scoring on lay-ups but doesn’t provide much else on offense. However, he’s one of the best defensive options at point guard for the Bulls.
Caruso had a +2.1 defensive Estimated Plus-Minus last season, which put him in the 94th percentile of players. He’s great at aggravating opponents and had positive net ratings with stars DeMar DeRozan (plus-9.9), Zach LaVine (plus-1.0), and Nicola Vucevic (plus-0.5). Dragic and Coby White are the other potential starters at point guard, but Caruso should have the inside track.
2. Zach LaVine (Shooting Guard)
Fresh off of signing a $215.2 million max contract in the offseason, LaVine is the obvious starter at shooting guard for the Bulls in 2022–23. The two-time All-Star averaged at least 23.7 points per game in each of four previous seasons and is one of the best scorers in the NBA. He finished the 2021 season with 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game through 67 regular season games.
LaVine’s one area of weakness is his defense. He was once considered one of the league’s worst wing defenders and, while he has made strides in that area, he’s still a liability on the defensive end.
3. DeMar DeRozan (Small Forward)
A 13-year veteran, DeMar DeRozan’s spot in the starting lineup is firmly secure heading into the 2022–23 season. DeRozan averaged a career-best 27.9 points per game in the 2021–22 season. He was also an All-Star for the fifth time and finished 10th in MVP voting. He shot a career-best 35.2 percent from three and had the second-best effective field goal percentage (.521) of his career.
Acquired by the Bulls via trade with the San Antonio Spurs in August 2021, DeRozan helped transform the Bulls into a playoff contender in his first season with the team. He spent the prior three seasons with the Spurs and was a four-time All-Star in nine seasons with the Toronto Raptors.
4. Patrick Williams (Power Forward)
Patrick Williams could be an X-factor for the Bulls. Selected fourth overall by the Bulls in the 2020 NBA Draft, Williams made the 2020–21 All-Rookie team after averaging 9.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game in his first season. However, he was limited to just 17 games in 2021 due to a wrist injury.
Despite entering his third season in the league, Williams is still only 21 years old and has shown flashes of excellence, including a 35-point performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the final game of the 2021–22 season. He’ll be expected to be a secondary scorer while providing above-average defense in 2022–23.
5. Nikola Vucevic (Center)
A two-time All-Star, Nikola Vucevic is entering his 12th NBA season and third with the Bulls. He began his career with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011–12 and spent the next nine seasons with the Orlando Magic before he was acquired by the Bulls in March 2021. In his first full season with Chicago in 2021–22, Vucevic averaged 26 points, 16.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game.
Vucevic is a top 10 center in the league and part of the Bulls’ Big 3 alongside DeRozan and LaVine.