Chicago Bulls Season Preview

 

Seeing Red

This season, like the previous one, the Chicago Bulls boasted the best record in the Eastern Conference. They did it the way that many people who don’t support the game of basketball believe that it should be done. The Bulls have been the NBA’s most consistent team over the past two seasons, and they’ve done it without having to form a “super team” as many would like to call them. They’re endeared in the hearts of the casual fan because this and because of the past successes of the franchise along with the legacy of Michael Jordan.

Though this season was a productive one for the Bulls, it came with its share of struggles as well. The main one being keeping Derrick Rose on the floor. Rose ended up playing in only 39 out of 66 games this season. Even though the Bulls were productive without him, at the end of the day we knew that this knocked them down in the pecking order of the Eastern Conference. There was no way that, down the stretch, you could depend on Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and (insert name here) to carry you to victory. Especially not against the likes of the Miami Heat. Rose needed to stay on the court for them to even have the smallest chance of beating the Heat this season.

Constantly, throughout the season, Rose was facing injury after injury. He felt the pressure of his team needing him to be back on the floor and each time he ended up returning a bit prematurely. There were issues with his legs, ankles, and feet mainly. This goes back as far as the playoffs last season when Rose sprained his ankle against the Atlanta Hawks. His legs really haven’t been the same since. He still plays with  a lot of explosion, but that may be a key reason why Rose has the injury problems he does.

That all came to a head when Rose tore his ACL versus the Philadelphia 76ers this season. It has been said that Rose will likely be out of action until March or April. He’s been rehabbing and doing the proper things to get his ACL back to full strength, but the key is to do it in its full capacity. Rose must not come back ahead of time because if he does, it could end up being worst than what it is right now.

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf has the right idea, obviously. He’s saying that he won’t allow Rose to come back until he’s 100% healthy. That’s the proper way to handle it no matter how badly the player wants to come back and play. At the end of the day, he’ll hurt the organization more than he’ll help it.

Derrick has to understand that, this season, most importantly. I’m sure looking back on it, he’ll wish that he took that extra week or so off or another day or two here or there so he could get back to playing Derrick Rose basketball. He’s the most herky-jerky player in the NBA, really. He does a lot of starting, stopping, accelerating, and jumping. His explosion is matched, probably, only by LeBron James. The way Rose can stop and start is something that a lot of players can’t do. Its a gift and Rose has to take care of his body in order to preserve that.

Bench Mob No More

Well, last season the Chicago Bulls had one of the deepest benches in the NBA. That’s what drove them to their 50-16 record, truthfully. Sure, their starters gave them some excellent minutes, but it was their ability to go four or five deep off of the bench that really propelled them into their first place standing. Apart of that “bench mob” was Omer Asik, C.J Watson,  Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, and Kyle Korver. Four of those five names are out of Chicago and the remaining one, Taj Gibson, will see an opportunity to play for lucrative deal elsewhere as well very soon.

The Bulls spent this offseason trying to rebuild their bench and come up with the depth that they had last season. They went out and  made acquisitions of Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli, Vladimir Radmanovic, Nate Robinson,  Nazr Mohammed, and they drafted Marquis Teague. They picked up plenty of help at the point guard position because of the injury to Derrick Rose. Kirk Hinrich has proven to be a serviceable starter at moments in Atlanta and also his playing days in Chicago as well. Nate Robinson has proven that he can be a spark plug off of the bench, an we have someone who’s talents are relatively unknown in Marquis Teague.

The Bulls went out and picked up a serviceable center in Nazr Mohammed with some championship experience and playoff experience as well. He’ll be able to give just as many minutes as Omer Asik did–which was only about 15–and be able to put up more than two points. Defensively he’ll be good as well.

They weren’t able to replace the shooting stroke of Kyle Korver simply because that’s something that is very hard to find. Korver shot 43% from beyond the arch last season. Vladimir Radmonovic and Marco Belinelli will be depended on to stretch the floor for the Bulls and have both been somewhat consistent threats from outside throughout their careers. They should be able to, somewhat, make up for what Kyle Korver was able to do last season. Not to mention they have Rip Hamilton as well. Hamilton just needs to stay healthy and on the floor. He’ll be a presence that the Bulls really need.

Minute Allocation

Though the Bull’s roster is pretty stacked by position, I think that Tom Thibodeau will find a way to play a majority of these players. It probably won’t be a consistent line-up at all because they’ll have different match-ups they want to exploit on any given night. Also, they’ll try to make their defensive scheme more versatile by using the variety of different players that they have. Of course, Thibs is going to go with the guys who are familiar with the system first and foremost. Others will still get their fair share of playing time as well. I’ll give you guys the line-up with Rose and without Rose since we don’t know when his return will be.

Starters With Rose

Derrick Rose- 34.1 Mpg

Rip Hamilton-  28.3 Mpg

Luol Deng- 37.3 Mpg

Carlos Boozer- 28.7 Mpg

Joakim Noah- 33.6 Mpg

Reserves

Taj Gibson- 30.5 Mpg

Kirk Hinrich- 24.6 Mpg

Marco Belinelli- 22.3 Mpg

Vladimir Radmanovic- 17.4 Mpg

Jimmy Butler- 20.1 Mpg

Marquis Teague- 13.5 Mpg

Nazr Mohammed- 17.1 Mpg

Nate Robinson- 10.3 Mpg

Starters without Rose

Kirk Hinrich- 32.1 Mpg

Rip Hamilton-28.3 Mpg

Luol Deng-37.3 Mpg

Carlos Boozer-28.7 Mpg

Joakim Noah-33.6 Mpg

Reserves

Taj Gibson- 30.5 Mpg

Marco Belinelli- 22.3 Mpg

Vladimir Radmanovic- 17.4 Mpg

Jimmy Butler- 20.1 Mpg

Marquis Teague- 22.3 Mpg

Nazr Mohammed- 17.1 Mpg

Nate Robinson- 17.4 Mpg

Conclusion

As you can see, this is a totally different team at the point guard position without Rose. He changes the whole dynamic of things because a dearth of the scoring is usually on him. When he’s out of the game, the go-to scorer is typically Luol Deng and whoever else puts in any effort to score points. I don’t think the Bulls will be much of a contender without Rose on their team next season, and that may be for the best.

At the end of the day, the Bulls best chance to acquire more talent is through the draft. They have too much money invested in Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer to even think about being players in free agency. If they can pair up a good lottery talent with Derrick Rose, their team could be in some very good shape for the next few seasons. It worked out that way with one Chicago Legend…sort of. I think we’ll see if its able to happen with this one, too.

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