The Bulls’ rebuild has produced mixed results since the organization dealt Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves on draft night in 2017, and the team has failed to reach the postseason — or come near .500 — in the four seasons since.
This season was a step in the right direction for the franchise, with the team finishing 31-41 behind an All-Star campaign from Zach LaVine and a trade deadline acquisition of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. And while that season didn’t yield a postseason berth, it was a lucrative season for sports betting in Illinois.
Bulls Finish 10th in Cover Percentage
Despite the 31 wins, the Bulls were actually profitable as a betting option in 2021. They finished the season 38-34 ATS in the regular season, a cover percentage of 52.8%, making them slightly profitable — and good for the 10th best mark in the NBA. They covered the spread by an average of 1.3 points per game, which was good for sixth in the NBA.
Breaking out that 38-34 mark ATS, the Bulls did most of their damage away from the United Center. Despite going 16-20 SU on the road, their 22-14 ATS record was third-best in the NBA, with that 61.1% cover percentage trailing only the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers.
The other trend that proved profitable during the season was the Bulls beating up on bottom feeders. Chicago was 15-11 ATS as a favorite, with that cover percentage of 57.7%, the seventh-best of teams with double-digit covers as a favorite.
Bulls Underwhelm After Blockbuster Deal
The Bulls surprisingly made the biggest splash of any team at the NBA’s trade deadline, dealing for All-Star center in Vucevic. The idea was for Vucevic to team up with LaVine to form a dominant 1-2 combo on offense that would propel the Bulls to the postseason.
Their odds to win the championship didn’t improve too much, though. They were +25000 at FanDuel sportsbook to win it all after the trade.
The move wound up backfiring, with the Bulls 12-17 SU after the trade (they were 19-24 before). They were just 14-15 ATS post-deal, including a 4-7 stretch in April when LaVine was forced to miss two weeks because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
They did finish the season with a strong 5-2 record against the spread, but despite the positive finish, the postseason dreams died.
Bulls Go Under Early And Often
Despite having an elite scorer in LaVine and offensive-minded role players in Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, and Vucevic, the Bulls were among the most profitable under plays from the 2021 NBA season.
Their 40-32 record hitting the under was the fifth-highest percentage (55.6%), helped out in large part by a surprisingly good defense (12th in efficiency) and an offense that fizzled whenever LaVine didn’t touch the ball (21st in efficiency).
The arrival of Vucevic — and subsequent departure of defensive stud Wendell Carter in the deal — didn’t do anything to slow those unders, with the Bulls hitting the under in 17 of 29 games after the trade. Oddsmakers were waiting for the Bulls to get better on offense — or regress defensively — and it didn’t happen, making them a profitable play all season long.