Be it Michael Jordan winning every individual accolade available to him, or the twin three-peats, that famed red uniform, the iconic starting 5 introductions – we all wanted to Be Like Mike. We all wanted to be a part of the Bulls.

But to a younger generation, the Bulls are the opposite of iconic. They're a franchise associated with at best ambivalence, at worst failure, aside from some brief Derrick Rose led flourishes.

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Since the 1998 Championship, the Bulls have missed the playoffs 10 times, and only made it out of the first round on four occasions, despite a litany of high draft picks. This is not the same club that spoiled its fans in the 90's.

Such an uninspiring long term run would, you might think, put pressure on Bulls decision makers John Paxson and Gar Forman, who have both been with the franchise in senior roles for nigh on 20 years. But owner Jerry Reinsdorf, perhaps confirming his alleged indifference in his basketball club, continues to give GarPax enough rope.

To their credit, the Bulls have assembled a tantalising list of young talent: high scoring wing Zach Lavine, sharp shooter Lauri Markkanen, young centre Wendell Carter Jnr, and recent draft pick Coby White.

In addition, the club have made some significant veteran additions with a mid season trade with Washington for Otto Porter Jnr, and free agent acquisitions Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young.

So, can the Bulls make the playoffs this season? To do so they would have to improve to, give or take, 42 wins – an increase of 20 from last season's awful 22 win club. That on its own is enough to make you take the Hard No. However, there is much to examine with this incarnation of the team from the Windy City.

Let's take a closer look at that young core...

LaVine is the man that much rests upon. Long an inefficient scorer, he's finally added some economy to his ability to put the ball in the bucket. He's still a below average play maker and frankly awful defensively. However, if LaVine can continue his ascent, the Bulls at least have their offensive Alpha.

Markannen is that most cherished of beasts – a seven feet tall sniper. The young Finn can flat out shoot the rock. Going into his third season, we'll get a good idea about his ability to be the secondary weapon that will make LaVine's life so much easier.

He's still an average shot creator for both himself and teammates. If he can show some improved play making chops, that adds a serious wrinkle the Chicago attack.

Carter Jnr had an interrupted rookie campaign, but my word did he show some flashes! Now, by flashes, we're not talking thundering dunks or highlight blocks, but rather he played with intelligence beyond his 20 years.

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Strong positional play, brilliant passing and solid rebounding are Carter's thing – catnip to basketball geeks. Throw in some long range shooting and quick hands on defence, and you get a player in the Al Horford role – underappreciated, but vital to winning basketball. He can develop into the player that enables his teammates on offense and covers their mistakes on defence.

Coach Jim Boylan might be conservatively described as 'Old School'. He likes set plays, walking it up the court, limiting mistakes. That doesn't always align with his troops strengths.

In rookie point guard Coby White, Boylan has a flagon of Red Bull. Does he decide to leave it be, or rip open the can & gulp it down? If it's the latter, White will lead an electric fast break, with plenty of options to hit in Lavine, Markannen and Porter.

Ahh, yes....Otto. Overpaid? Absolutely. A defensive stopper? No, not really. Although he's satisfactory at that end. A fine do-it-all 3rd wheel in the offense? Oh, yes! The mid season trade for Porter transformed the Bulls attack.

The Bulls finished 29th in Offensive Rating last season. But for a three week period after the Porter trade for supposed offensive studs in Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis, the Bulls offence was ranked #2 with a bullet. It's worth pointing out that through that period the Bulls had all of their young core on the court. That's telling. Perhaps Chicago finally have the right mix?

Add in the vets in Young, a low maintenance high efficiency offensive player & menacing defender to teach Carter the ropes, and the 6'7” Czech Satoransky – fresh off a fantastic World Cup – to hold the fort whilst Young rides the rookie bumps, and you've suddenly got yourself a very solid core rotation.

Back to the question – can the Bulls get back into the post-season? It's probably a year too soon for them. But there is some hope. Most Vegas books have the Bulls at 31.5 wins this season. A significant jump from last season but clearly not enough to vault them into the playoffs.

However, last season's Orlando Magic were pegged to win 31.5 games before making the playoffs with 42 wins. The season prior, Indiana won 48 games behind a transformed Victor Oladipo despite Vegas setting the line at – you guessed it – 31.5 wins.

So, don't expect the Bulls to roar back into the playoffs this season. But don't be totally shocked if they do.

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