Chris Mannix comes forward with a bold proposition: The Chicago Bulls will win an NBA championship in the coming season. It’s a bold prediction, but not one that he seems to have supported with very much argument. I agree with him that we can expect to see the team improve considerably, but it’s worth keeping the baseline in mind. The 2006 Bulls were a mediocre team at best, putting up a .500 record in the weaker conference. They were good defensively, but at sixth in the league not super good. And they were actually quite poor (22nd out of 30) on offense. Nothing they’ve done this offseason looks to me likely to dramatically improve the offense, and even if you think adding Ben Wallace would suddenly make them the best defensive team in the league a championship seems like a longshot.
I think that were one to be inclined to make a preseason wager, the smart bet is for a Miami repeat. Not necessarily because they’re the best team in the league. But I expect the post-Wallace Pistons to decline quite a bit, and don’t think anyone else in the East has improved to that level. So of the top four teams in the league, three (Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio) are all in the West which winds up making Miami’s odds look pretty good.