How Chicago Bulls Current Playoff Woes Stack Up in Franchise History

How Chicago Bulls Current Playoff Woes Stack Up in Franchise History
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

It’s been eight years since the Chicago Bulls last made it past the first round of the NBA Playoffs, leaving fans to wonder when the franchise will return to its winning ways.

This year’s squad doesn’t appear likely to snap that streak, either, with Chicago sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference at 17-21, a half-game lead over Washington for the final spot in the league’s play-in tournament.

The last Bulls team to make it farther than the opening round of the postseason was the 2014-15 squad that made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals under Tom Thibodeau.

Illinois sportsbooks are showing little faith in the Bulls.

Oddsmakers currently list the Bulls at +20000 to win the Central Division (behind the Bucks at -300, Cavaliers at +200 and Pacers at +10000), +10000 to win the Eastern Conference (ranking in a tie for ninth with the Knicks), and +15000 to win a championship (ranking in a tie for 20th with the Knicks and Kings). 

IllinoisBet.com wanted to see how the Bulls’ current playoff woes stack up in the franchise’s 56-year history. Keep tabs here with BetMGM Sportsbook Illinois and other operators to see how odds continue to change. 

Consecutive Years Not Getting to Second Round of Playoffs

Seasons Years
81998-2005
72015-present
61982-87
51976-80


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How Bulls Current Playoff Drought Stacks Up

Chicago’s current seven-season run of either missing the postseason entirely or getting knocked out in the first round is the second-longest run in franchise history.

The only stretch that ran longer was in the post-Michael Jordan era, from 1998 to 2005, when Chicago missed the playoffs six straight years before getting knocked out twice in a row in the opening round of the playoffs.

That run was the net result of losing the sport’s north star and one of the game’s brightest coaching minds (Phil Jackson), then finding little success under the tutelage of coaches Tim Floyd, Bill Cartwright and Scott Skiles.

The current Bulls era followed the relative success the franchise found under Thibodeau, making the playoffs seven straight times, while making the Eastern Conference Finals once (in 2010-11) and the conference semifinals twice (in 2012-13 and 2014-15).

The post-Thibodeau run has featured head coaches Fred Hoiberg, Jim Boylen and Billy Donovan finish above .500 twice, with first round losses to Boston (in 2016-17) and Milwaukee (in 2021-22) being the only thing to show for it.

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How Bulls’ Win Percentage Compares With Past Eras

Unsurprisingly, there has been a direct correlation between the Bulls’ lack of postseason success and the franchise’s collective winning percentage this decade.

Chicago has seen that percentage drop from its all-time high of .644 during the Jordan era in the 1990s to an all-time low of .416 in the 2000s.

Things rebounded from there, with the 2010s seeing the franchise get back above the .500 mark to .521 for the decade.

The 2020s have seen a return to mediocrity, however, as the Bulls have a winning percentage of .496 between 2020 and 2023, showing how far the franchise has fallen from the golden years of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Jackson.

With 44 games remaining in the NBA regular season, there’s still time for Donovan’s bunch to turn the tables and return Chicago to prominence in 2023.

If not, then Chicago risks matching the post-Jordan teams Bulls fans have longed to forget in a streak that few wish to continue.

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Contributors

Christopher Boan is a lead writer at IllinoisBet.com specializing in covering state issues. He covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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