Below is my entry in this year's NBA Blog Previews. If you're a frequent reader, a lot you may have read before...often. But even for those sick of my offseason whining analysis, there's at least a juicy prediction at the bottom to be mocked in April.
Team Name: Chicago Bulls
Last Year’s Record: 41-41
Key Losses: Ben Gordon, my faith in the franchise
Key Additions: Jannero Pargo, James Johnson (draft), Taj Gibson (draft), cap flexibility
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
Letting Ben Gordon walk. The significant move of the offseason was effectively made during the last season, in acquiring Brad Miller and John Salmons from the Kings at the trade deadline. Not only did it put the 2009 payroll already very close to the luxury tax, but in acquiring a scoring guard like Salmons they were hedging against a Gordon departure, which wound up happening on the first day of free agency.
The Bulls should be able to compensate for the loss of Gordon to maintain their ultimately average level, through the addition of Salmons, a healthy season from Luol Deng, and steps up in the careers of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Tyrus Thomas. Jannero Pargo is back for a second go-around with the franchise, attempting his best Gordon impression up until the point where the shots actually need to go in. With a couple of late first-round picks in a weak draft class, the Bulls went with two older bigs in James Johnson and Taj Gibson for added immediate frontcourt depth.
James Johnson Wrecking Shop -
One of my favorite parts of the preseason is seeing the rookies make their debuts in the league. So far in this week-old preseason, several first-year players have already made a noticeable impact on their teams. Here are a few rookies who are making a good first impression.
James Johnson (Bulls): Not a lot of people talked about Johnson coming into the preseason, but you can bet they are probably talking about him now. The 6-9 forward out of Wake Forest has been an absolute beast in his first two games averaging 16 points and 7.5 boards per game, while getting to the line and average of 8.5 times per contest. In the exhibition game against the Jazz in London, Johnson sank a game-winning, fade-away shot at the buzzer.
Rising Generation -
We are the team, that Michael Jordan built. We are the team now lead by Derrick Rose, the rookie of the year, and the greatest number of points in a playoff series. Luol Deng is coming off of an injury, which is a plus as always. Luol will give you 18 PPG/ six RPG a game, and that's always a contribution. He's an old-school type of guy, and that's respectable.
The Chicago Bulls had a key loss this summer: Ben Gordon, the rainmaker, could always spark things up, but was inconsistent. Let's see how the Bulls can mesh together and fill the void of Ben Gordon leaving. The Chicago Bulls will play better defense then last year, because of Ben Gordon leaving. He sucked at defense.
I'm ranking my Bulls in, at least, the number six seed. The East has always been mediocre for the lower seeds, who are rarely over 500 percent, and have been second best to the dominant Western Conference. Derrick Rose, will come out even stronger then before, and show us what he truly is, and what he can make on the court.
Rose still out -
Officially, Derrick Rose is listed as day-to-day with an injury to his right ankle. Of course, the Bulls' starting point guard has been classified as day-to-day for about a week, and it could be another week before he's ready to play.
''It's getting better,'' Rose said Saturday night before the Bulls' 98-86 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Resch Center.
''Right now, I'm just waiting for [trainer] Fred [Tedeschi] and [the medical staff] to clear me.''
When that happens is anyone's guess. Rose talked optimistically about returning soon, but he also revealed that he's taking stronger medicine and was given a protective walking boot Friday.
''The problem is with a tendon that wraps around a bone in the ankle,'' Rose said. ''It hurts a bit when I jump.''
Be sure to check back tomorrow for my Bulls 2009-10 Season Preview!!