Monday, November 16, 2009

Bulls Links (Circus, Rose, Noah, MJ, Taj)

Circus trip predictions sure to go wrong

I'm in a select group. The group that doesn't mind the circus trip. For one, you have to go on two long west coast trips eventually, so it's not like this is some special curse for them. Every team is going to hit as many far travel days in a row as it can. Why not get the tough one out of the way early? It always leaves so much room for a strong finish.
The circus trip hasn't always spelled complete doom either. Last November the Bulls finished up the circus trip at 8-9. I said they had 4th seed potential at that point, and if they hadn't completely tanked during a weak December schedule, they would have.

This team has a long history of charging back from rough starts. It's not that they get it together. It's the schedule evening out. However, I do like the momentum that can build by getting a tough stretch out of the way early.

The Bulls enter this stretch 5-4, and it wasn't against a soft schedule either. The Bulls have only played two poor teams; the bobcats and the 76ers. They have wins against Cleveland, Milwaukee (oddly this seems impressive so far), and San Antonio. They played well in tough losses to Denver, Miami, and Toronto [let's pretend the last 6 minutes didn't happen].

All in all, the Bulls have done well so far against a tough schedule.

Bulls trying to get Derrick Rose back on track
Remember when Derrick Rose drew the headlines for wreaking havoc with a record set by Lew Alcindor?

Rose's scintillating performance in Game 1 of the Bulls' first-round playoff series against Boston last April, in which he scored 36 points to tie Alcindor's 39-year-old record for scoring in a rookie playoff debut, is a distant, if pleasant, memory.

The fresher memories are from Saturday night, when Rose posted his second seven-turnover game of the young season and Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings smashed Alcindor's 40-year-old franchise mark for rookie scoring by dropping 55 points on the Warriors.

Currently, Jennings is getting the national love reserved for Rose last season. Closer to home, the Bulls are still trying to get Rose back on track.

"Three or four of his turnovers were plays he usually makes," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We'll continually work with him on that stuff. He threw this one pass over the top on this pick-and-roll and we've been working with him to step through. Those floating passes get picked off. We can't have that many turnovers."

Rose knows. One is too many for him.

Is Noah a legit all-star candidate?

A lot has been made about Joakim Noah being left off the all-star ballot. Clearly, Noah wasn't going to be voted in by fans regardless of his place on the ballot. Shaq could be out for the season and draw more votes than any centers in the league this side of Yao Ming and Dwight Howard. So ultimately, his place on the ballot is irrelevant. However, does he deserve a trip to the all-star weekend?
Based on his present level of play; yes. Noah is presently ranked 11th in PER among EC players with 200+ minutes, and he has the second highest PER of any center in the East. He's leading the league in rebounding and has been one of the best shot blockers in the East as well.

He's been the clear leader of this Bulls team which, despite fan complaints, has exceeded expectations to start off the season. People may look at his limitations, his potential, his ceiling, and say that Noah doesn't pass the smell test. He wouldn't pass mine initially either.

However, when I look at the numbers, there's actually a fair case to be made for Noah. In order to cement in his status as a legit contender for an all-star spot, he needs to do three things:

1) Play at a 20+ PER through the all-star game
- He needs the individual numbers to make him worthy

#23: To Retire Or Not To Retire?

Recently an idea has been floating around the NBA regarding the retirement of Jordan's #23 Jersey, as a way to honor him for being the best player the league has ever had. Though this has been done in both baseball and football, in basketball a retired jersey is done so through way of individual teams, not by way of the entire organization.

As everyone knows, Jordan's jersey has been long retired for the Chicago Bulls but now some people are starting to believe further action should be taken. Last Thursday, before facing the Miami Heat, Lebron James went on air and expressed his desire to change his number to 6, a number which he wore for the USA Olympic Team, further saying he believes everyone in the NBA currently wearing the number 23 should do as well. Ironically enough (or not, depending on your view of Lebron), Michael Jordan happened to be at that game, seated next to Pat Riley who for a long time now has also wanted to retire Jordan's jersey.

So does Lebron have a point or is he just trying to gain even more fans and supporters? The way I see it, though I do believe Jordan impacted basketball in a way no one else has ever done and will ever do, there are three problems with this plan.

Gibson not playing like NBA rookie

In general, the Bulls have struggled to make shots consistently this season, but don't include rookie Taj Gibson in that group.

After scoring a season-high 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting in the loss Wednesday at Toronto, Gibson is averaging 8.3 points on 51.8 percent shooting. He has filled in nicely at power forward for starter Tyrus Thomas, who is out with a fractured left forearm.

Besides scoring inside, Gibson has stepped out to the perimeter and knocked down quite a few mid-range jumpers.

''I've been confident, I've been capable,'' he said of taking the jumpers. ''It's just guys finding me in the trenches and I'm able to capitalize. I'm a patient player. I just try to do the right things to help the team win.

8 Weird Things About the Chicago Bulls So Far

I watched “Observe and Report” with Seth Rogen this weekend per Netflix and I didn’t know what to make of the film.

Was it good? It could have been just as bad as it was funny.

It’s a nasty comedy, one that doesn’t balk at mocking mental disorders or slamming the back of kids’ heads with skateboards. But it was delightfully weird and well-acted, and the parallels are hard to ignore to this Bulls season so far.

For instance, Rogen plays a bipolar, militant mall security guard who is hell-bent on catching a pervert who flashes women. In some ways, you love the character and then you hate him.

Sort of how things are going with Chicago teams these days. So, I give to you eight weird things about the Chicago Bulls so far in reverse order (cue Billy Ocean's Caribean Queen in the background to really get in the mood).

8. Joakim Noah is really good. I mean like-all-star-esque-in-the-thin-crop-of-east centers-good. On Saturday night, he ignited the team with a thunderous slam as he split two defenders to rally a slumping Chicago Bulls’ team. He is finally matching effort with his talent, and is clearly carrying a Bulls team that cannot score or get much out of their cornerstone Derrick Rose.

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