Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bulls Preview Spectacular!

A massive collection of "Bulls Season Preview" Columns

BBS Bulls 2009-10 Season Preview
Last April I posted a "Season Preview Review" which compared my pre-season predictions for 2008-09 to how last season actually went. Read that first because where last season ended seems like a good place to start this 2009-10 Season Preview ...

* With BG in Detroit, where will the points come from?

I'm not the first person to ask/answer this question, so I don't claim to be offering anything new in this space. Losing BG surely hurts, as I've said before: he is an incredible scorer, and probably the Bulls best player for the last few years. But for everything he got us on the offensive end, he cost us the almost-the-same with bad shots and terrible defense.

Replacing BG with Salmons in the starting line-up should be looked at as an upgrade. Salmons is over the groin injury that slowed him last season, and has an entire pre-season and training camp to get into the flow of the Bulls' system. He is better suited to play off Rose than BG. BG was an offensive black-hole, but Salmons should be better at letting Rose handle the rock and create shots for him, rather than needing the ball in his hands.

Luol Deng is also healthy, and has put on some muscle in the off-season. I'm hoping the muscle will help more on the defensive end when he has to stay in front of guys like Lebron and Joe Johnson. If he really is healthy, there's no reason to think he will not benefit from playing alongside D-Rose. I could see him moving back toward the player we had 3-4 years ago, and actually earning some (but not all) of his $71 million.

We also have Kirk and Pargo off the bench, so replacing BG's 20ppg is not as tough as it first seems. Kirk can play either the 1 or 2 spot, and provides a great defensive option that we never had with BG. Pargo can give us the quick scoring spark on some nights. Those two provide great versatility as far as creating difficult match-ups for opposing second units.

We should also expect to see a big jump (or more realistically, a small increase) in TT's points/offense if he continued to work on his jumpshot this summer. D-Rose's jumper will undoubtedly be improved, which should open up more options in the pick-and-roll with TT. Hopefully both of those players will have a decent enough jumper to keep opposing defenders honest, which will open up some lanes to the hoop.

So while we no longer have 1 player who can get hot and fill it up on any night, we have Salmons and Deng healthy, D-Rose with a year of NBA experience, two guards coming off the bench, and what should be an improved TT. That group of players should be able to collectively make up for the offense that left with BG, and won't cause bad match-ups for us on the other end.


ESPN Bulls Preview Page.

ESPN Expert Bulls Predictions.


2009 Expert NBA Basketball Picks: Chicago Bulls Preview

CHICAGO - APRIL 30: A member of the Chicago Bulls dance team 'The Luvabulls' performs during a time out in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs between the Bulls and the Boston Celtics at the United Center on April 30, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 128-127 in triple-overtime.

The NBA season is quickly approaching and the Chicago Bull’s fans couldn’t be more excited. Not that they really did anything to improve their team this offseason, they just generally get excited before every season.

They keep hoping that Michael Jordan will walk back through the door and it will be 10 years ago and he can lead them to another title. Short of that happening, they probably aren’t going to go very far this season. If you’re looking for free NBA picks, don’t expect the Bulls to return to glory this season.

Chicago Bulls ‘09-10 NBA season preview

Last year we debuted the “Highs and Lows” system — previewing the NBA season by predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team. Same theme, different season…

Added: James Johnson, Taj Gibson, Jannero Pargo, Derrick Byars

Lost: Ben Gordon, Tim Thomas, Linton Johnson, Anthony Roberson

Ceiling: Eastern Conference semifinals

NBA Blog Previews - Chicago Bulls

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?

Will Rose and Chicago build on their playoff run against Boston or fall off in 2010?
Today’s team: Chicago Bulls.

Key Question: Will Chicago build on last year’s playoff against the Boston Celtics or fall-off in 2010?

The Quick Answer: For years, Ben Gordon polarized fans.

Some saw him as a dynamic scorer, capable of dropping big numbers and even bigger shots. Others felt his size was a liability -on offence, he could never be a legit first-option and, on defense, opponents would take to him to the block to create mismatches.

Chicago management was also split on Gordon. At times, they tried to lock him up long-term by offering multi-year contracts worth big money. At other points, management seemed to be pushing the former ‘Sixth Man of the Year’ out the door.

Chicago Bulls Season Preview

CHICAGO -- A couple of weeks ago, at the Bulls' mind-numbingly dull media day, I was obsessed with the idea that the Bulls need a singular go-to scorer to replace Ben Gordon, the Gucci-wearing, 3-point-dropping, late-game gunner who led the team in scoring 43 times last season.

Derrick Rose is the natural successor to Gordon's honorary title as Last Shot Taker, given his skill set and position as point guard, but most people I questioned assured me that the team will have to find its late-game identity organically and that more than one guy could assume Gordon's status. Joakim Noah even patted me on the shoulder good-naturedly as I rambled on about it.

Season Preview: Chicago Bulls
Lets slow down a little bit with the “Derrick Rose is the next Chris Paul” talk. Did Rose have an excellent rookie season? Absolutely. Was he as good as everyone thought he was in the playoffs? Not so much. Does his rookie season compare with what Paul did? It’s not even close. Check out the following stat lines:

22.6 USG%, 108 ORtg, 28.8 AST%, 6.1 RB%, 51.6 TS%

22.2 USG%, 114 ORtg, 38.2 AST%, 8.5 RB%, 54.6 TS%

The first line is Rose. Now, that’s a perfectly respectable rookie season. It was good enough to win him the ROY award, and he deserved it. However, it pales in comparison to the bottom line, which is Paul’s rookie season. Paul was a much better offensive player, better rebounder (despite his smaller size), and that doesn’t even touch on defense, where Rose was abysmal last year. Good? Yes. Showcased a lot of potential? Yes. On par with the greatest point guard of this generation? No. I’m excited to see what Rose can do in his second year; how much of his potential he actually realizes, but I want to see him do it before I crown him the next big thing.

2009-10 Season Preview: Chicago Bulls

2008-09 Record: 41-41, Lost in First Round

Last Season’s FIC Rank: -0.8, 17th

Key Additions: Jannero Pargo

Key Subtractions: Ben Gordon and Tim Thomas

Key Rookies: James Johnson and Taj Gibson

Probable Starters: Derrick Rose, John Salmons, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Brad Miller

BDL's 2009-10 NBA Preview: Chicago Bulls

Do I trust Vinny Del Negro? No, I don't trust Vinny Del Negro.

This is a carryover from last season, his first campaign as Bulls (or anyone's) coach, and I don't mind working with a mindset finalized last May. It's the hole he's dug.

For all I know, the man's turned it around. One season was all he needed, he's ready to lead, he's ready to complain about the offense when the offense was the problem (instead of when the defense was the problem, or vice versa), and actually mean it. Not in some passive/aggressive, Scott Skiles-like way. Skiles used to needle the defense when he knew the offense stunk, as a way to motivate. I don't quite assume that level of panache from VDN.

But I could be wrong, there's a great chance of it, but that's what I'm going with until I'm proven wrong. Most of you know where my fandom lies, so here's hoping I'm way, way wrong.'s NBA Enemy Lines

An opposing team's scout sizes up the Bulls

I don't think they're going to miss Ben Gordon that much. Of course, he was a different option for them and he scored, but Derrick Rose is going to fill in nicely and they'll be able to get Kirk Hinrich on the floor more. Plus, they've got John Salmons now [for a full season].

I was impressed with Rose's mid-range jump shooting, which was better than advertised last season. Just his stroke, the way he released the ball, being able to get to a spot and pop off the dribble -- he was very good. His athleticism and ability to get to the basket are off the charts. And if he can stop and hit jump shots when people are waiting in the lane to beat him to the spot of his drive, then he's really got it. I like his demeanor leading the team. I don't want to call him a leader yet, but they're following him and he's out there fighting. He looks to distribute the ball, he runs sets, he can control the tempo with his offense and he's tough defensively. If you put him and Hinrich on the floor together, that's two pretty tough guards.

Chicago Bulls 2009-10 season preview/predictions

I may take a shot at breaking down the Eastern Conference in a future article, but we're here to talk about the Bulls, how everyone plays and where they finish. Jump in at the bottom and leave your own Bulls predictions, go on the record, be mocked like me at the end of the year.
Team Record: 45-37
I enjoy being optimistic, and I see the Bulls winning somewhere between 35-50 games. I picked at the high end of that range, hoping things go well. The problem with narrowing this team's range is that it doesn't have dominant players yet. Derrick Rose isn't a dominant player yet, and no one else is even close.

Why is that a problem? Well on the Lakers if Kobe and Gasol stay healthy, you know the team is going to be great. On the Bulls, there is no single gate keeper who needs to stay healthy to make the season. This team could be hurt considerably by an injury to Rose, Hinrich, Salmons, Deng, Tyrus, Noah, or Miller. Since the loss of any single player for a considerable period of time could really hurt the team, they have significant downside.

If everyone stays healthy, this team wins 42+ games. If everyone stays healthy and Derrick takes a big step forward, this team wins 45+ games. If this team stays healthy and Derrick, Tyrus, and Noah take steps forward then they're a 50+ win team.

So I'm going with 45 wins. A healthy team and solid improvement by it's young players.

TrueHoop Network 2009-10 Season Preview: Chicago Bulls

Crowd Says: 43-39
By The Horns Says: 46-36

Yes We Can!
The sun is out. The seas have parted. The basketball gods are shining upon us!

During the offseason, the Bulls lost free agent Ben Gordon, whom many people considered the team’s best or second-best player (after Derrick Rose). Memo to Chicago fans: Don’t sweat it. Seriously. Gordon will be replaced by John Salmons, who not only gave the Bulls almost as many points per game (18.3 versus 20.7) but was slightly more efficient in how he scored them (Salmons had a True Shooting Percentage of .596 and an Offensive Rating of 117 compared to Gordon’s .573 and 112). Even better, Salmons has the size (6-foot-7) and ability to defend opposing shooting guards … something Gordon couldn’t do unless he was exposed to Cosmic Rays or bitten by a radioactive spider.

And that’s not the only good news. Derrick Rose spent the summer working on his jump shot (500 or more jumpers a day!) and seems poised to blossom into an All-Star. Kirk Hinrich (who could start for several teams) and Jannero Pargo (a fearless and streaky shooting assassin) might be the best backup backcourt combo in the league. Luol Deng should be healthy (I hope) and ready to party like it’s 2006-07 (when he had a career-high Player Efficiency Rating of 18.7). It’s a contract year for Tyrus Thomas, which means he’s likely to blow up. Joakim Noah would dive face-first into a swarm of man-eating sharks to win a basketball game, so expect him to be a rebounding, shot-blocking beast. Like Hinrich, Brad Miller is a starting-caliber player who proved last season he can be very effective in a reserve role. Rookies James Johnson and Taj Gibson have the raw talent necessary to provide support in short bursts off the bench. Lindsey Hunter is a first-rate (and mostly non-playing) locker room leader, and Aaron Gray hands out a mean cup of Gatorade.

To sum up, the Bulls have height and depth across the board. They have guys who can get to the rim (Rose and Salmons), guys who can shoot the ball (Deng, Hinrich, Pargo and Salmons), guys who can clean the glass (Miller, Noah and Thomas), and guys who can swat some shots (Gibson, Noah and Thomas). They still don’t have a low post scoring threat, which is a problem (maybe even a big problem), but they don’t have a gaping hole at any position. The Bulls won’t win the East (thanks to the Cavaliers, Celtics and Magic) or even the Central Division (because of the Cavs), but they’re going to be much better than the naysayers are predicting.

Bulls season preview with Andrew Lawrence of Sports Illustrated

Are you ready?

Of course you are.

Opening night. NBA basketball is back.

No more preseason, no more lethargic play, no more guys working themselves back into game shape, no more guessing, no more predictions, definitely, no more replacement refs it's time to see who's for real and who's got some explaining to do.

Numerous publications have their NBA previews up and on newsstands and Sports Illustrated is no different.

I sat down with SI columnist Andrew Lawrence, who in the newest issue, previews the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks, to get his opinion on some storylines facing the Bulls this season.

The talk has been about focusing on defense this season. How good can this team be if they focus more on that side of the ball?

I think they can be a top-tier outfit, no question. Scott Skiles wrung a lot out of this roster when he was coach, and they figure to be improved by another year of Brad Miller (a huge addition to the maturing frontcourt of Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas) and the subtraction of Ben Gordon, who made no secret of his allergy for defense. On the other hand, his replacement, John Salmons, is both bigger and legitimately eager to distinguish himself as a premier perimeter defender while building on last year's breakout offensive year.


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