Overachievers? Chicago Bulls Will Be "Big Four" Team in the East
Now that free agency has lulled some fans into a snooze, it is time to start looking speculatively at what teams can do this upcoming season.
Clearly, the Eastern Conference has taken major strides in becoming a more well-rounded group, and one of those teams prepared to make a jump are the Chicago Bulls.
Yes, the Miami "Thrice," Boson Celtics, and Orlando Magic stick out on a level of their own, but it appears Chicago is ready to break down the door and enter among the East's beasts.
Despite not having the hopes of teams like Miami (72 wins, really?), there are clearly higher expectations in the Windy City.
To realize these expectations, there will be areas where the Bulls will perform, and some where they may have to "overachieve" to get to the promised land.
Here are four areas that Chicago will need to perform to be apart of the "Big Four," and whether it will take more than just 100 percent to surpass and take down some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and NBA.
Ranking the point guards, 10 through No. 1
5. Derrick Rose(notes), Chicago Bulls (last year: 11th)
I take in quite a bit of noise for Bulls fans for pointing out Rose's bad defense, his inability to consistently get to the line and his so-so passing. But I also saw him hit a 3-pointer a few days ago -- it had arc, rotation, follow-through; the whole schmear -- and I can't help but bump the guy up. Especially with a screening-and-finishing partner in Carlos Boozer(notes) waltzing into town.
Top 10 players for the next five seasons, where's Derrick?
There are many ways to value players. How much would this player help you in one year? How much would this player help you if you were starting from scratch and had to build a team over a number of years? Do you factor in present contracts when making these choices? A top 10 player list can look fairly different depending which of those rules you take.
For our purposes, I'm going to go with the pick the best player for the next five seasons disregarding contract and just looking at projected on-court value over that period of time. The assumption, of course, is that teams will be formed via dispersal draft, so talent will be spread out evenly throughout the league.
#8 Derrick Rose
I waffled with where to put Rose, because amongst all players, with Rose you are really projecting what he can become rather than what he is right now. I'd put Rose as a top 15 or so player right now, but the leap to the top 10 is fairly big. He needs to improve shooting and defense, but we've heard good reports in both aspects this off-season.
Rose started simply dominating the game at the end of last year, and his overall numbers are skewed negatively as he struggled to recover from a leg injury early on that robbed him his athleticism. His mid range shot is one of the best in the NBA, and he can get open looks at will with his amazing quickness and ability to hit it off the dribble.
Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng Dominating International Play
With the news of Carmelo Anthony wanting out of Denver, many Chicago Bulls fans have willingly offered up Luol Deng and an assortment of players and picks for the Nuggets' superstar.
Not so fast.
As a member of Great Britain's national team, Deng has quietly put up fantastic numbers as arguably the best player on his squad.
Deng put up games of 32 points and nine rebounds, followed by 23 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Then against Ukraine he posted 28 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
Sure, these stats are inflated by a lower level of competition. But what would it say about Deng if he put up worse numbers against the same opposition? At least he is dominating when he should be.
More importantly, his time with Great Britain could provide a boost to his confidence and leadership, particularly after his name was thrown around in all sorts of speculative moves. Remember how poorly the Bulls performed after trade talks for Kobe Bryant?
His performance also serves as a reminder to fans that he is still young (25 years old) and is just nearing the time when most players enter their prime. People act as if he's washed up, when really he has just had bad luck with injuries.
I want to believe Deng is going to be a great player on the revamped Bulls. I want to believe his injuries are behind him. I want to believe he has the drive to prove all the doubters wrong who call him "soft."
But I just can't right now. Not even after his strong showings on the international stage.
I asked BBS readers if they had any blogs or links to include, and got a few cool responses. Please keep them coming in and I will include in future "Click-a-Bull" posts. Here's the first set:
Search For a New Favorite Team: The Chicago Bulls?
I’ve spent the last several years as a die-hard LeBron James fan, and by association a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, ever since I got a fist-bump from LBJ at a game. In the the wake of the LeBron Circus, however, I’m in the market for a new favorite team—and I’m chronicling my search. Maybe I’ll announce my decision on ESPN.
Subscribe to the RSS feed to get the continuing saga.
The Chicago Bulls are in a great spot. Their roster is unbelievably loaded, and yet thanks to the Miami Heat they’re still going to start this season well, well under the radar.
Talk about a dark horse to win the Eastern Conference. If the Heat don’t gel, the Boston Celtics keep getting older and the Orlando Magic continue to not improve then the Bulls could swoop in and take the East when nobody’s looking. It sounds like a lot of if’s, except that all of them seem possible—if not probable.
We don’t need to say anything about Derrick Rose, right? Top five point guard, getting better each year, only 21 years old, blah blah blah. In these next couple years Rose is going to be informing us all whether he’s decided to become a real-deal superstar, or just a regular ol’ star.
He put in 20 points and six dimes per game last year, and is the undisputed leader of an offense in which he won’t be the only legitimate contributor this year. If he can parlay his athleticism into some frisky defense, he’ll quickly go from awesome-to-watch to just-plain-awesome.
You know what ups the ante on the Bulls, though? Joakim Noah. I hated the guy when he played at Florida, and figured his hustle game would never translate to the NBA.
Year PPG RPG
07-08 6.6 5.7
08-09 6.7 7.5
09-10 10.7 11.0
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Noah has a nose for the ball that is almost unmatched in the league, as we’ve seen his rebounds go from 5.7 to 7.5 to 11.0 per game in his three years in the NBA. He’s got the size for it, at 6’11”, but it’s his uncanny ability to get into position that translates into boards.
Throw in ten points, a block and a half, wicked cool hair and improved shooting from the stripe (74% last year—downright respectable for a center), and at 25 years old you’ve got a big man you can do business with.
Screenshots of Michael Jordan in NBA2K11
It took time to appreciate Scottie
Growing up in central Illinois in the 1990′s if you weren’t a Chicago Bulls fan you were pretty rare. There were usually two schools of thought on who your favorite player was, obviously most went with Michael Jordan and everyone else rooted for Scottie Pippen. I fell into the first camp. I loved MJ he was the man. I knew Scottie was good but he was just Robin to Michael’s Batman. He was my little brother’s favorite.
Years later Scottie Pippen has made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame. It wasn’t till a few years ago, after watching and re-watching countless games on dvd, ESPN Classic, and NBA TV that I truly began to appreciate Scottie Pippen as a basketball player.
He was truly ahead of his time. I myself have been guilty of being in awe of how much of a freak that LeBron James is but give me Scottie’s smothering defense and I like my chances. He was a 6’7 point forward that could literally guard all 5 positions. MJ could take chances on defense to get his highlight dunks because he knew Scottie had his back. Playing against the Bulls defense with all its length and Scottie as its anchor was like trying to throw a hardball through a tree try as you might you weren’t making more than a dent.
Scottie got steals, blocks, and for my money is the greatest player I have ever watched at taking charges. He would throw his body in front of anyone to get a stop. I can remember a playoff game in the late 90′s where he took 4 charges! That’s in one game! Find me a time a superstar took 4 charges in a playoff series let alone a game!