The Chicago Bulls are off to one of their best starts in a decade and while it might be a bit of a stretch, these Bulls have a lot more similarities than it might seem to the title-winning teams of the 1990s. With the most dynamic scoring duo the franchise has seen since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen along with some flashy surrounding pieces, they’re in, dare I say it, familiar waters. The front office needs to make a move for a big and there’s still a lot of the season left to play, but just how well does this team stack up exactly after 14 games?
On paper looking back at every year, this team was the worst by a country mile. Yes, they were eventually the team that broke through finally beating the bad boy pistons in the east but their start didn’t show they were going to by any means. They came out the gates losing their first 3 games and were only 8-6 through the first 14 games. Given it was the 90s, and the early 90s at that, giving up over 100 points in 8 of 14 their games to that point was not a good look either. They recovered from a slow start and won 61 games, which is still second-worst for this list. Winning the franchise its coveted first title means a lot, but the 1990-91 Bulls take the last place slot here.
What’s known now as the infamous “Last Dance” team, the 1997-98 Bulls also got off to an extremely slow start for their standards to that point. The Bulls had the weight on their back of the ultimatum from Jerry Krause telling Phil Jackson that this was going to be his last season, despite the fact that the Bulls had won 5 of the last 7 titles with the 2 they didn’t being the years Jordan left to pursue baseball. Pretty much every guy on the team getting major minutes was on the wrong side of 30 at this point as well. After an 8-6 start, the world thought they were pretty much washed and done. They would go on to win 62 games and one last title though. I put them in sixth over the 1990-91 team purely based on the pedigree they had at this point compared to then.
Surprisingly, this Bulls team finds itself above last on this list, A spot where the naysayers would not have expected them to be because they’re “supposed to be a play-in team”. Yet this Bulls team finds itself at 10-4 and continues to make statement wins week after week. They’ve now beaten the Nets, Jazz, Clippers, and Lakers among other teams in the playoff picture, and don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. After 14 games, this team ranks 10th in offensive rating, sixth in defensive rating, and fourth in overall net rating. DeMar DeRozan is in the MVP race and Zach LaVine isn’t terribly far behind and despite the injuries, it doesn’t seem like this team is going anywhere but up. I placed them at fifth on this list though because they still have a lot to prove to be above most of these historic teams.
Coming in at fourth on the list is the 1992-93 Bulls who also had a record of 10-4 through their first 14 games which is by no means a bad start. Every fan base would take that record to start a season I would think. Compared to other teams on the top of this list though they just don’t stack up quite as well. They finished with the worst record on this list of 57-25 which isn’t bad but doesn’t do them any favors. Led by a burnt-out Jordan who would go on to play baseball for the next two years they would still go on to win a title and complete the first of their two three-peats in the 90s. They were simply pretty average and nothing stands out too much to me to put them higher or lower on this list and thus I’ve set them at fourth.
These Bulls came out the gates swinging after winning their first title in franchise history. After a lackluster 1-2 start, they would tear off 15 wins in a row but they were sitting at 12-2 after their first 14 games. The team that truly started what would be one of the most dominant runs in NBA history would finish at 67-15 and would run through their adversaries in the playoffs for the most part. This was an extremely good team but still couldn’t really compete with first and second on this list as most of us know.
The team known to many as the greatest team to set foot on an NBA floor comes in at second and not first on this list. It surprised me as well as I thought for sure a record of 72-10 would’ve meant they got off to the hottest start as well. That wasn’t the case but nevertheless, this team still got off to a very hot start at 12-2, led by a fresh Jordan who had gotten his desire to play back alongside Pippen and new addition Dennis Rodman who would dominate NBA interiors and complete their big three. This team marked the return of the Bulls dynasty after a two-year layoff and they came back with a bang, starting the second three-peat and winning their fourth title.
Coming in on the top of this juggernaut of a list is the 1996-97 team. It came as a surprise to me like I said but looking back this was clearly the “best start”. Coming off a then record-breaking 72 wins in the regular season and yet another title, these Bulls started 13-1 in their first 14 games and won 12 straight to start the season. They would end up with the second-best record on this list at a more than respectable 69-13 and run through all playoff adversaries again. This season was also the high point of the dynasty in my personal opinion. No drama, no rumors, just a team kicking butt and taking names, and therefore they take my number one spot for this list.
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