On Aug. 23 Espn.com released a list of their top five NBA Championship contenders as part of their 2013 NBA Summer Forecast. The list included the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs. The Chicago Bulls were nowhere to be found. Granted it has been three years since Chicago has made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, I still believe that Chicago has as good a chance as any team to make a run at the title this season.
Chicago should feel disrespected that they did not make this list. Although ESPN’s prediction have no outcome on the actual playoffs, the Bulls definitely deserve more recognition and belong amongst the top five NBA title contenders. There are a few reasons why Chicago should have made this list.
First and foremost, of every team in the NBA nobody is making a bigger addition to their roster than the Chicago Bulls. This isn’t a draft pick, free agent or trade but rather the return of Derrick Rose. After missing the entire 2012-13 campaign, Rose will make his much anticipated return to the Bulls this year.
Even without Rose the Bulls still managed to finish fifth in the Eastern Conference and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. With Rose on the sidelines Chicago was still able to knock off the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. Despite being banged up and without their leader, Tom Thibodeau would not let his team quit as Chicago upset Brooklyn and played the Miami Heat competitively in round two.
Although the series against Miami only went five games, Chicago took the first game of the series in Miami and lost be three points in Game 5. If the Bulls were able to give the two time defending NBA champions a run for their money without Rose, just imagine what they will be able to do this year when he is back and healthy.
Another reason why Chicago belongs on this list is because they have a better resume than some teams that were chosen. Chicago has won at least one playoff series two of the past three years. The one year they did not win a playoff series was in 2012 when they lost both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to season ending injuries.
So despite recent postseason success, the Bulls were left off of the list while a team like the Clippers landed at the No. 4 spot. I understand the Clippers are upgrading their coaching staff in a major way by hiring Doc Rivers, but they have still underperformed greatly over the past two playoffs. Dating back to the 2012 playoffs, the Clippers are 2-8 in their last 10 games. With postseason woes like that I am not sure that the Clippers are more deserving than the Bulls to be a part of this list.
ESPN’s preseason predictions should definitely add fuel to Chicago’s fire as it prepares for the upcoming season. Chicago should feel disrespected by being left off of the list, as it is just as deserving as any other NBA team to be considered as a frontrunner for the 2014 NBA championship. The Bulls should use these predictions as extra motivation as they prepare to make a run at the title this season.
Jon Keller is a writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkell2005