5 teams the Orlando Magic will be fighting for a playoff spot
Last Year: 40-42, 10th East
Key Additions: Jevon Carter, Torrey Craig
Key Losses: Lonzo Ball (out for the year), Patrick Beverley
The Chicago Bulls have three potential All-Stars in DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. That is enough to keep them competitive in the Eastern Conference. Count them out of a playoff spot at your own risk.
But that should not be enough for a team like this with the kind of star power they have invested in. For whatever reason, this group just has not clicked effectively. Maybe it is because they could not afford to be down such a key player in Lonzo Ball — set to miss his second full season, making that strong start to his time in Chicago feel like a distant memory.
Last year was undoubtedly a disappointing season. Billy Donovan has carved out a team that is strong defensively — fifth in defensive rating at 111.5 points allowed per 100 possessions. That should not change with the players they ended up adding.
But it is all window dressing because it does not get to the main reasons why the Bulls have disappointed. Their stars just do not seem to mix well together. And they do not have enough shooting to make their system really work.
Despite the individual brilliance and potential of DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic, they were only slightly better than the Magic offensively at 112.8 points per 100 possessions. Is this team going to be measurably better?
The thing with Bulls is they are a team that seems like they have reached their ceiling. It is hard to imagine them doing more than the Play-In ringer. Their support players just are not good enough and their stars are starting to fade a bit. Chicago had no choice but to keep them.
Orlando has certainly benefited from this Chicago team — it was the trade of Nikola Vucevic to Chicago that kickstarted Orlando’s own rebuild and its bright future including the pick that selected Franz Wagner.
At some point, the Magic are going to pass the Bulls — the Magic won the season series last year 2-1 including the buzzer-beating win from Jalen Suggs in November — it might very well be this year with the Magic’s improved depth and potential for growth among their young star players.