Bulls

Charles Barkley: Bulls will finish better than Heat in '21-22

Bulls

Charles Barkley has never been shy in his criticism of the Chicago Bulls.

Over the course of the franchise's four-season rebuild, which yielded zero playoff berths, Barkley once went so far as to call the Bulls "the worst team in the NBA." With a record of 102-301 (.339) since trading Jimmy Butler in June 2017, it was at one point a difficult stance to argue.

But entering the 2021-22 season, the Hall-of-Famer turned TNT analyst is bullish on the Bulls' chances of breaking out, even in a much-improved Eastern Conference.

"The Chicago Bulls will finish ahead of the (Miami) Heat," Barkley declared on Inside the NBA Tuesday evening:

While no team did more than the Bulls to upgrade their roster talent this offseason, that certainly qualifies as a hot take.

The Heat followed up an improbable run to the 2020 NBA Finals with a 40-32 finish in 2021, ducking out of the playoffs in the first round at the hands of the eventual-champion Milwaukee Bucks. But Miami addressed its relative shortcoming by adding Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker to a core already comprised of Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.

The Bulls, meanwhile, added DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to a core of Zach LaVine, Nikola Vučević, Patrick Williams and Coby White after a 31-41 finish in 2021. That's nothing to scoff at. Still, the Heat are widely seen as closer to contention than Chicago.

 

But this is why the games are played. Should Barkley's forecast come true, it will mean an even more exciting season for Bulls fans than expected.

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