Chicago Bulls 2019-20 Betting Predictions, Odds, and Expert Best Bets

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Ricky Dimon

NBA· 2 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Best Bet: Under 32.5 Wins (-110)

Worst Bet: To Win the Eastern Conference (+5000)

The Chicago Bulls were not quite bad enough to finish in the bottom three of the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, but that was only because Phoenix, New York, and Cleveland were downright terrible. Chicago (22-60) was not much better, finishing fourth-to-last in the NBA and dead last in the Central Division. The Bulls started this past season 5-19, at which point they fired Fred Hoiberg and replaced him with current head coach Jim Boylen. Things did not improve dramatically thereafter, as the team went 17-41 the rest of the way under Boylen. Even if healthy, Chicago was never going to be a factor in terms of playoff contention in 2018-19. But injuries certainly did not help. Only two players appeared in more than 63 games, although star guard Zach LaVine at least managed to suit up for 63 and his team still could not accrue more than 22 victories. Forward Lauri Markkanen, the other part of the Bulls’ young core duo with LaVine, played in 51 contests.

LaVine and Markkanen are back to continue building for the future, but there is clearly no real urgency to win now. Chicago was not active on the free-agent market and it drafted a point guard–Coby White out of North Carolina–in the first round. That was not the biggest area of need, as Kris Dunn is still on the roster. Clearly the Bulls no longer believe that Dunn is their floor general of the future based on the selection of White, so in a way they are once again pressing the reset button.

Bulls Win Total: O/U 32.5

Based on win totals, only Cleveland, New York, Charlotte, and Washington are supposed to be worse than Chicago in the Eastern Conference. Even Atlanta is projected to win just one more game than the Bulls, which is wild. The Hawks were already superior in 2018-19 and they improved to a much greater extent on paper this past offseason. That is not to say that the Bulls will be awful. They brought in Thaddeus Young to be a veteran presence, Otto Porter Jr. is a proven contributor, and there is no shortage of young talent.

Chicago is going to be better than it was in 2018-19–which is not saying a lot–if LaVine and Markkanen can stay healthy. Either Dunn or White should be able to run the point with some effectiveness, and Wendell Carter Jr. can occasionally be a force down low. But it does not take a math wizard to figure out that the Bulls would have to improve by 11 wins in order to go over this total. Eleven? Seriously? I’m just not seeing it…and neither should you. As such, hammer the under.

Odds to Make the Playoffs: Yes +290, No -350

Chicago has missed the playoffs in three of the last four years and there is no reason to think that this bunch is the one that gets the franchise out of this slump. The Bulls are still young and likely a year away from the postseason discussion; many years away from serious contention.

The fact that they are not in the Western Conference gives the Bulls a remote chance, but a postseason berth remains unlikely. When you look at the competition, the four Atlantic Division playoff representatives from 2018-19 (Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston, and Brooklyn) are all locks; at least Milwaukee and Indiana will once again represent the Central Division; Atlanta should be much-improved in the Atlantic Division. At most there are two spots available and more likely one. Chicago is unlikely to be the one team that capitalizes. In fact, -350 odds are not even too big to jump on. 

Odds to Win the Central Division: +5000

Would the Bulls have a shot at taking the Southeast Division title? A small one, sure. In the Central? Absolutely not with Milwaukee running the show. The good news for Chicago is that no team other than the Bucks looks especially formidable on paper. Indiana should be decent once again with Victor Oladipo returning from injury, but Detroit is unspectacular and Cleveland is atrocious. If a lot of things go right, the Bulls could take second place–albeit a long, long way behind Milwaukee. Not even +5000 odds should entice anyone to get on the Chicago bandwagon. After all, Michael Jordan ain’t walkin’ through that door.

Odds to Win the Eastern Conference: +5000

I’m not sure how this is possible, but the Bulls have the same odds of winning the entire Eastern Conference as they do of finishing on top merely in the Central Division. Oh well; it does not really matter given that neither accomplishment has any chance of actually happening. Even if Chicago actually did win the Central, navigating its way through the East playoffs would be completely out of the question. The Nets are coming with Kyrie Irving (followed by Kevin Durant in 2020-21), the Celtics are still strong after replacing Irving with Kemba Walker, and the 76ers brought a lot of their pieces back while also adding Al Horford. If you’re not going to back the Bulls in their own division at +5000, obviously you aren’t going to do something so foolish as to pick them in the Eastern Conference at the same odds.

Odds To Win NBA Championship: +15000

This bet is not quite as bad as the division or conference, as the payout triples if you take Chicago to go all the way. Plus it just feels better saying, “I bet on the Bulls to win it all” than it does saying, “I bet on the Bulls to win the Central Division” or, “I bet on the Bulls to win the Eastern Conference.” The latter just makes you look like an idiot; the former just makes you seem crazy in the head. Neither option, of course, is good. Anyway, this team needs to be bad for several more years and win the lottery at least once and probably twice before it can start thinking about making Chicago a title town once more. For now, simply making the playoffs would be a massive accomplishment. Avoid any bets involving the word “title” or “championship” like the plague.

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