There wasn't much preseason thought put into the Chicago Bulls contending for the NBA championship, but with a two-game lead in the Eastern Conference standings one week into 2022 believers in the team's title chances are beginning to come out.
Former NBA forward Matt Barnes is stepping to the front of that line after the Bulls' recent eight-game win streak.
Barnes said on ESPN's NBA Today that Chicago's ceiling was reaching the 2022 NBA Finals.
"This is a very talented team," Barnes said, "and they're still getting better."
Barnes expressed that DeMar DeRozan was having one of his best seasons in the NBA.
"It's not to disrespect Miami, Brooklyn, the Bucks -- this [Chicago] team is right in the mix with them," Barnes said.
The Bulls added more separation in the Eastern Conference standings by beating the Orlando Magic since Barnes attached himself to the Chicago championship bandwagon.
Barnes' vote does have some weight as the 14-year journeyman did hoist up the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2017. The NBA champion did say on Monday's show that he predicted the Bulls to exceed preseason expectations and be "the surprise team of the season."
"I don't want to toot my own horn but I called this at the beginning of the season," Barnes said.