No. 24: Chicago Bulls

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 11:07 AM ET
By Max Klinger | ESPN The Magazine

Last Year's Rank: 26
Title Track: 28
Ownership: 19
Coaching: 7
Players: 5
Fan Relations: 7
Affordability: 68
Stadium Experience: 26
Bang for the Buck: 55

A few ligaments. That's all the 2011-12 season came down to for the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose's torn ACL in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, then Joakim Noah's sprained ankle in Game 3. Those weak little fibers were all it took to knockout a Bulls' team that won the most games in the league and was the Eastern Conference top seed for the second straight year. Defensive taskmaster Tom Thibodeau's meteoric rise into the upper strata of the NBA's coaching ranks (he's the fastest coach in NBA history to win 100 games) might have netted him a second-straight COY award, but instead he had to settle with just having the best defensive and rebounding team in the league. He did it not just with young stars like Rose and Noah, but by employing Chicago's protean "Bench Mob" of role players, who helped him achieve a uniquely disciplined set of strategic goals. No surprise then that the Bulls scored near the top of the league in categories like "have likeable players" and "have players that always show their best effort." Big-city economics may dictate average ticket prices that were only higher in LA and NY, but the Bulls' still managed to squeeze a respectable Stadium Experience score out of one of the league's oldest arenas. Fast-forward to next season and a young, driven and hopefully mended Bulls team will aim for another chance to prove that they're one of the best franchises in basketball.