After losing their second play-in tournament game to miss the playoffs last season, the Bulls have set a goal to advance past the first round of the postseason. That would be a critical milestone to reach in their third season centered around Zach LaVine, Nikola Vučević and DeMar DeRozan.
Here’s what to know about the roster and expectations for this season’s team.
What should fans expect from the 2023-24 season?
Coby White, point guard
Zach LaVine, shooting guard
DeMar DeRozan, small forward
Patrick Williams, power forward
Nikola Vučević, center
Areas of improvement
The Bulls have targeted three areas of their offense to improve — 3-point volume, free-throw attempts and offensive rebounds — all of which hinge on their ability to get into the paint. They were a bottom-five team in all three categories last season; any improvement could lift the offense into a more competitive standing.
Staying the same
The starting lineup consists of five returning players, which means the Bulls will rely on individual player improvement — particularly from White and Williams — to increase their offensive rating. Based on the preseason, it’s unclear how the Bulls will significantly increase their 3-point volume. On the plus side, adding Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter should mean the defense will remain in the NBA’s upper echelon — maybe even the top five.
FanDuel has the Bulls at 37.5 regular-season wins. The Bulls won 40 games last season and are equipped to improve — I’d put their over/under slightly higher at 39.5 wins.
The Bulls want to make the playoffs outright, but I expect them to get in through the play-in tournament after a seventh-place finish.
Meet the roster
No. 2, point guard, 6-foot-6
This will be Ball’s second consecutive season on the sideline as he recovers from his third knee surgery — this time a rare cartilage transplant that aims to resolve the swelling and soreness that have plagued him since January 2022. Ball is not expected to return to the court until fall 2024, although the Bulls have yet to formally shut him down for the season.
No. 5, point guard, 6-foot-1
A much-needed reinforcement on the perimeter, Carter will be a key rotational guard after cementing his role as a lethal defender with the Milwaukee Bucks. He was considered for the starting point guard job and will be a key secondary ballhandler. Carter shot 42.1% from 3-point range last season and could help the Bulls make a jump behind the arc.
No. 6, shooting guard, 6-foot-5
The Bulls defense runs through Caruso, who was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team last season. Caruso is set to come off the bench after stepping into the starting lineup for parts of last season, but he’ll serve just as crucial of a role as a defensive anchor. The key for Caruso is to stay as healthy as possible, as short-term injuries have hampered his career.
No. 13, power forward, 6-foot-7
After stints with the Denver Nuggets, Bucks, Phoenix Suns (two) and Indiana Pacers, the versatile veteran is determined to bring an edge to the Bulls on and off the court. Craig will be a crucial rotational player to push Williams at power forward. His eager rebounding and accurate 3-point shooting also are expected to lift the offense.
No. 11, small forward, 6-foot-6
DeRozan continues to deliver as a veteran leader and prolific scorer. He is up for an extension after this season, which won’t change his role — lighting up the midrange and consistently producing as one of the Bulls’ two primary scorers. But it will force the front office to examine the future of the roster and how DeRozan fits into its long-term plans.
No. 12, shooting guard, 6-foot-5
Although his second season didn’t live up to the breakout success of his rookie year, Dosunmu is in position to make another leap. He will be an anchor of the second unit, playing mostly off-ball guard alongside Carter, and will join a strong slate of perimeter defenders.
No. 3, center, 6-foot-11
Although he didn’t always receive consistent minutes in his first season with the Bulls, Drummond is the team’s most reliable player on the boards, averaging 6.6 rebounds in 12.7 minutes. As a more traditional center, he had to be used tactically against different opponents, but he remains a dominant force in the paint who can bolster the defensive-minded second rotation.
No. 8, shooting guard, 6-foot-5
After a slow start last season due to recovery from knee surgery, LaVine is eager to helm the Bulls from the jump this year. He missed out on an All-Star selection last season but ended it on one of the most efficient streaks of his career. LaVine is poised to lead the Bulls in scoring again, but he’ll also need to contribute to the offense holistically — especially by producing more 3-pointers.
No. 15, small forward, 6-foot-8
The No. 35 pick in the draft, Phillips will be competing for every minute he can get. The Tennessee product is a high-motor defender who will make his biggest impact by contributing to the smothering on-ball pressure of the second unit. He also showed an eagerness to get to the rim in the preseason.
No. 32, power forward, 6-foot-4
A deep rotational player, Taylor rounds out a smallish power forward group helmed by Williams and Craig. He played only five games last season after signing a two-way contract in February but could play a larger role in the second rotation with a smaller depth chart in front of him.
No. 25, small forward, 6-foot-7
After barely cracking the rotation for less than five minutes per game in his rookie season, Terry will be battling for a place in the lineup. His defensive tenacity interests the Bulls, but his shot and playmaking need to take a significant jump for him to see the court more often.
No. 9, center, 6-foot-10
The third pillar of the central trio, Vučević has been consistent throughout 2 1/2 seasons with the Bulls. He played in all 82 games last season and remains a prodigious double-double machine — 51 in 2022-23, the second-highest total of his career — who provides a regular share of scoring. Like LaVine and DeRozan, his challenge will be helping the rest of the team produce a faster pace of play.
No. 0, point guard, 6-foot-5
After snagging the starting point guard job in the preseason, White is primed for a breakout season. His 3-point accuracy (37.2% last season) will be critical to improving his scoring, but White’s biggest contribution to the offense will be distribution. He spent the last two offseasons improving his ballhandling skills. Now he’ll be tested as a playmaker for the primary rotation.
No. 44, power forward, 6-foot-7
This is a contract year for Williams, who did not sign a rookie extension at Monday’s deadline. He will round out the starting lineup on opening night, but the former No. 4 pick still is fighting for footing after underperforming in his third season. The baseline for Williams to establish himself in the starting lineup is clear: pull his weight on the boards and prove he can playmake and score alongside the team’s three stars.