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Kendrick Perkins says the Chicago Bulls are a play-in team ‘at best’

Nikola Vucevic, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA center and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins doesn’t believe that the Chicago Bulls will finish in the top six teams in the Eastern Conference this season.

Perkins believes they are a play-in team “at best” in the 2022-23 campaign, which would be a step back from when they earned the No. 6 seed in the East in the 2021-22 season.

It’s hard to fault Perkins for this take, as two teams that finished below the Bulls last season made some major improvements this offseason.

The Atlanta Hawks traded for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray to help improve their backcourt, and the Cleveland Cavaliers added three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell in another blockbuster deal this offseason.

Last season, Atlanta made the playoffs by way of the play-in tournament while the Cavs were knocked out after back-to-back losses to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta.

The Bulls, who relied heavily on DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine in the 2021-22 season, have most of their core back, but there is one key injury that could hamper them this season.

Point guard Lonzo Ball, who suffered a knee injury last season, offered a concerning update on the status of his recovery for the 2022-23 campaign. Ball revealed that he can’t run or jump yet.

Even though Ball isn’t the Bulls’ best player, the team struggled without him in the lineup last season. In the 47 games that Ball missed, Chicago was about a .500 team, going 24-23. In the 35 games that Ball suited up in, the Bulls were 22-13.

If he’s unable to go for the start of the 2022-23 season, the Bulls will likely rely more on guards like Coby White and Alex Caruso to handle the ball. The team also brought in veteran guard Goran Dragic in free agency this offseason.

The Eastern Conference is loaded with talent this season, especially if the Brooklyn Nets are able to stay healthy. Brooklyn finished with the No. 7 seed in the East last season, and it is another candidate to jump the Bulls in the standings.

Perkins is known to have hot takes from time to time, but he may be right about the Bulls heading into this season.

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