Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Click-a-Bull (BBS; Thib's O; Rose MVP; Noah Perils; Boozer/Rose; Thibs)

BBS Chicago Bulls: 2010-11 Season Preview (Part 1)


New coach, new plan:

New coach Tom Thibodeau (pronounced Thib-uh-doe, not Tib-uh-doe, he confirmed) provided a brief, vague description of the offense he plans to run this season.

"We're going to start with our defense and our rebounding," he said. "I believe if you do those things well, it puts you into the open floor. You obviously want to play with pace. I think you try to get as many easy baskets as possible.

"The first thing we're looking for is layups and dunks. The second thing would be deep post ups and the third thing would be open jump shots. We want to play with a quick pace, we want to get the ball in the paint, play inside-out and we want to play unselfishly."

Derrick Rose: ‘Why Can’t I Be MVP?’

Hope springs eternal for all players and teams at this time of the year, and guys are unafraid to say what they really think. Here’s D-Rose, via the Chicago Sun-Times: “If still-blossoming Bulls point guard Derrick Rose doesn’t develop into one of the NBA’s great players, it won’t be because he doesn’t have the desire. During the Media Day festivities at the Berto Center on Monday as the team officially opened training camp — the first practice was scheduled for this morning — Rose spoke boldly when asked about his individual expectations for the upcoming season. ‘They’re high,’ he said confidently. ”The way I look at it, why can’t I be the MVP in the league? Why can’t I be the best player in the league? I don’t see why not. I work hard, I dedicate myself to the game and sacrifice a lot of things at a young age, and I know, if I continue to do good what I can get out of it. If that’s me going out and doing whatever, I’m willing to do it because in the long run I know it’s gonna help me.’ Said teammate Joakim Noah: ‘Derrick is an unbelievable talent and things have really changed around here since he’s been in Chicago. If Derrick feels that way, that’s good for us.’”

Joakim Noah's Perils

Be Careful What You Push For

Joakim Noah and the Bulls have four weeks to find each other in the middle. Noah is negotiating an early extension with the Bulls; in fact, these negotiations were the reason Noah skipped playing for the French national team at the FIBA World Championship. The only other '07 first-round draftee to sign an early extension so far was Kevin Durant, who did so quickly and quietly, as almost all sure-bet max players do. Noah, Al Horford and Jeff Green might end up as the only players of their class to settle business this summer instead of reaching restricted free agency a year from now.

A year from now, that is, assuming the league and union find a labor solution, something no one assumes. That's why this last month of negotiating is fraught with such peril for Noah and the Bulls, because no one knows what the league will look like the next time the parties can negotiate.

Joakim NoahRemember when FanHouse's Sam Amick laid out what the owners would be looking to institute in collective bargaining in 2011? A hard cap below the current cap level that would require teams to cut players at discounts to shrink payroll down to the threshold, in the process crushing new player salaries. Whether that will happen (and how long a lockout it would take to get players to accede to it) remains to be seen. But that's what the owners want: a smaller, harder cap.

Boozer's game perfect fit for Rose

At the news conference introducing Carlos Boozer in July, Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Boozer was the team's No. 1 big-man target heading into free agency.

Many people dismissed that comment as sour grapes because the Bulls went hard after Chris Bosh and only came to terms with Boozer after Bosh announced he was heading to the Miami Heat.

While it's true that the Bulls pursued Bosh because they believed it gave them a better chance of attracting either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, it's also true that Boozer is a better fit.

Simply put, Boozer is a more accomplished low-post scorer than Bosh -- and turns the Bulls' biggest offensive weakness the last few years into an obvious strength.

How much of a strength? Well, the first option in new coach Tom Thibodeau's halfcourt offensive scheme will be to throw the ball in to Boozer in the low post.

New coach Thibodeau has plenty to say

Derrick Rose wants to dispel one thing right away -- the perception that new Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is just a mild-mannered man who watches a lot of tape and doesn't say much.

Yes, he watches a lot of tape, there's no debating that. But people who think he just keeps to himself, just don't understand.

"Man, if you don't talk, he'll talk for like two or three hours," Rose said with a laugh after practice on Tuesday afternoon. "So you've got to shorten your conversation with him real quick. You got to come up with a good lie or something. Have one of your friends call you and say you got to go pick him up or something ... he'll talk to you for hours."

Rose was kidding, kind of. The 21 year-old point guard seems to enjoy working with the first-time head coach, but it's clear that fans and players alike still have a lot to learn about Thibodeau, aside from the correct pronunciation of his last name. (Note: The "H" is not silent. It's Thib-bo-DOUGH). The longtime NBA assistant got his first chance to change people's perceptions on Tuesday as he conducted his inaugural training camp practice as head coach. It was a day the 52-year-old dreamed of for years.

"It was great," Thibodeau said. "I actually couldn't wait to get started. The guys have put a lot of work in. They're focused and they're motivated, so [I'm] pleased with the effort. We have a lot of things to clean up, but it was a good first day."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And the only undeated team in the NFC is...

Da Bears. I have sat here all day trying to mull over what exactly last night's win over green bay means besides that the bears are only 1 of 3 teams left unbeaten in the NFL. Does this mean that I believe they have the best team in the NFC or top 5 in the NFL? Nope sorry even my homerism cant go that far. Do I believe this team is the best in the division? Nope, sorry. I still think green bay is a better team. Does this win set up the bears to control the NFC north the rest of the season? You bet it does and I now believe the bears will make the playoffs. But, I am still not quite sure of what to think of this team and how to project it. A look at the upcoming schedule though does make me think that the bears will be atleast 6-2 by week 9 (bears have a bye in there). Which wow that exceeds even what i thought were lofty preseason predictions. As for last night's game, here is what I saw:

The Good:
1. Hello, Devin Hester! Yep he is back. Everyone was starting to wonder if he had lost his return ability and he pretty much won the bears that game. Not only because he took one to the house but because of his 28 yard return (on which he got tackled by the punter, the punter!!) before the half set up the bears offense for a TD. If he can be a game breaker on punt returns again, this team can be very very good.
2. Crash test dummy Jay. I cant say enough about how impressed I have been with Jay Cutler this year. The guy gets killed back there every week and not only am I impressed that he pops back up but you never see him yell at an offensive lineman. I mean I have to think he wakes up after every game black and blue from head to toe but you dont even see him react to missed blocks or assignments this year. Plus, his althetic ability is just off the charts and how bout him faking that packers defender out on the scramble and gaining an extra 5 yards. Wow what a difference a year makes.
3. Stars on defense. Urlacher and Briggs look fantastic and better than ever. Not only are they back there wacking guys across the middle and pursuing to the ball but they are penetrating the line of scrimmage and making plays behind the line. Can't say enough about their play this year. And Julius Peppers is awesome. I know he only has 1 sack so far but his presence disrupts the entire offensive line. The MNF guys said a lot about this last night but what is even more impressive is watching Peppers' first step because he is so quick and big that most of the time he is almost already around the tackle with that first step.

The Bad:
1. A run game please. Look i know the bears are moving the ball on offense and Cutler has looked great but please for the love of god Mike Martz discover some sort of run game. I would be happy with 80 yards a game and it doesnt count if your QB has 37 yards in a game as Cutler did last night. I'm not sure the bears havent just changed Forte and Taylor's listed positions to WRs. To have a great passing game is good but the bears will need to have some sort of semblance of a running game to beat teams in the playoffs. Plus, with no running game, it kills the bears on time of possession, wearing down your defense. Last night - Packers 35:49 Bears 24:11.
2. 1 sack is all im asking for. Yes, Peppers had a good game but at the end of the day. Rodgers threw the ball 45 times and not once did the bears pull him down. Someone, anyone on the defensive line has to step up and be better pass rushers. I have liked what i have seen out of Henry Melton so far but he hasn't been on the field all that much. I mean come on, 45 times and no sacks are the bears counting to 5 banana before they start rushing? Pressure and maybe a sack is all im asking for.
3. Long drives. As stated above, the bears got killed in time of possession and it really wears on your defense, even a defense that rotates as many players as the bears. While partially the offenses' fault for not holding on to the ball longer, it is still up to the defense to stop the opponent's offense and while the bears didnt give up a lot of points, they gave up very long and sustained drives to the packers. I understand the defensive philosophy of bend but dont break (which I'm pretty sure, I and every other bears fan hates) but the defense still has to make plays to get off the field.

The Ugly:
They won, shouldn't this section be "the splendid"? Nope sorry folks, I saw 2 things that must be changed right away or I dont think this team can make the playoffs.
#1 = goal line offense. 2 out of 3 weeks in a row the bears have failed to put the ball in the endzone from a yard away. I dont know what the bears' percentage inside the redzone is this season but i know they look bad inside it. When Martz cant spread the field with multiple WRs, the bears seem to have no idea how to put the ball in the endzone and without a running game they cant power it in. They need to figure this out quickly!
#2 - Lovie is an idiot. First off, he is stupid for challenging whether bennett was in the endzone because everyone watching that live and the replay knew that a packer had touched bennett before he rolled into the endzone. Not only did Lovie lose a timeout in the 2nd half of a tight game but he lost the ability to challenge anymore calls the rest of the game before the 3rd quarter was done. Now, what if the refs' had ruled that the fumble recovered by jennings had gone out of bounds. Guess what the bears where out of challenges and it would have been packers ball and probably a very different result of the game. But most importantly, why does Lovie refuse to take the points??? The bears again went for it on 4th down at the 1 and failed to get the TD. Yes, with a good throw they do score but they didnt score. Plus, Lovie in case you havent been watching the games your team can run the ball in short yardage and they arent that good at scoring TDs, why dont you take the points??? I just cant understand how you dont take the points to tie a game in the 2nd half. Lovie, its gonna cost you one of these games and being lucky over good will only get you so far in the NFL.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chicago Bulls: 2010-11 Season Preview (Part 1)

Back in May, I posted a "Season Preview ... Review" in which I looked back at my predictions from last October and compared them to what actually happened last season. That would seem like a good place to start my annual "Bulls Season Preview" - except that so much has changed since last May.

Prior to the end of last season, the Bulls traded away John Salmons and Ty Thomas. After the season, when it appeared the Bulls actually had a shot of signing two of the "Big 3" free agents, we traded away Captain Kirk to free up the required cap space. When the "Big 3" copped out and went to Miami, the Bulls had to rebuild via a different model.

I posted some quick thoughts about the Bulls' off-season moves back in July, and I stand by what I said at that time:

Turns out, we never had a shot at Wade or LeBron, and we never even had a chance to sign Bosh. The "Big 3" agreed to play together a long time before free agency started, and all of the meetings were for show (literally, as Wade and Bosh might make a documentary about the "experience").

What has been lost in all of this is just how good of a summer the Bulls have had when weighed against plans and expectations. If Miami wasn't stealing all of the attention, more people would be talking about how the Bulls have addressed some major needs and really improved.

With signing of Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver, along with signing JJ Redick to an offer sheet (that Orlando is expected to match), the Bulls have done just that. We also signed former-draft-pick Omer Asik to add some depth to the front line. We're not done, but if Redick is matched, we can go after other SG options: Ronnie Brewer or Josh Childress. We still need a backup PG, possibly Shaun Livingston or Kyle Lowry. Once we fill those needs, the Bulls will be a significantly improved team from last season.

But beyond the improvements the Bulls have made to the roster, the organization put on a great display of integrity and class. It's somewhat buried in the link above, but worth linking again and pointing out:

It was also made known to James that the Heat would take care of his friends the same way the Cavs did -- special treatment at the arena, changing practice and travel schedules to allow for money-making late-night parties in various cities, and perhaps even hiring a James associate in a high-paying position in the organization.


The Bulls' chances were diminished for two central reasons. Wade wasn't willing to go to his own hometown. And the Bulls made it clear James' friends would not be given the privileges they were given in Cleveland or the high-paying jobs.

So maybe the Bulls didn't land LeBron (or Wade or Bosh), but the organization did the right thing. Instead of getting caught up in doing or saying anything to lure a FA to Chicago, the Bulls took the high road. I'll admit it sucks to lose out on those "top tier" FAs, but I could not be prouder to be a Bulls fan this summer. I'm glad the Bulls made the difficult (but correct) choice not to pander to the needs of a prima dona punk. LeBron has won as many NBA titles as I have, and is not bigger than the game of basketball.

Orlando ended up matching on Reddick, so the Bulls signed Ronnie Brewer instead. We then traded for CJ Watson (from the Warriors) to backup Rose at the PG spot, and signed Keith Bogans for some backcourt depth. We added veteran Kurt Thomas for some toughness and leadership up front, and it's looking like the Bulls will round out the roster with one more big body, and that will be a wrap. So with new head coach Tom Thibodeau replacing VDN, this truly is a new-look Bulls team from last season.

So that leaves me with a lot of guesswork tough predictions for the upcoming season. Here we go:

  • BENCH:
(Also: Kurt Thomas, Keith Bogans + unknown additional big)


    Taj surprised a few people last year with a lot of production, and even took over the starting role when TT fizzled and was eventually traded. Over the course of the year he averaged 9p/7.5r/1.3b in about 26 mpg. Although we shouldn't forget that he was not a one-and-done project in college, he is already 25 years-old after just his rookie season.

    Age and experience shouldn't diminish what we got out of the 26th pick, and he should be an absolutely perfect player to have coming off the bench. Solid, consistent production is all we're asking for, and we should get it. Hopefully he helps preserve Boozer a bit by racking up some minutes at PF. And let's hope he doesn't end up starting a bunch of games in place of an injured Boozer.

    Prediction for 2010-11: 7p/5r/.9b

    I would love to predict an upswing in Taj's numbers, but I see a drop in his minutes as he plays behind Boozer, so I have to predict a corresponding drop off in his production. Despite the decreased minutes and role, Taj will will still produce efficently, and will be a very nice addition to the second-unit.


    Hard to know what to say or predict about Asik. He is a big (HUGE) body, and definitely gives us size off the bench. Almost everything I know about him comes from watching YouTube highlights, so we'll go with that instead of analysis:

    Scouting Video:

    Looks legit for what we'll be asking him to do: spell Noah and play solid D.

    Prediction for 2010-11: 4p/5r/1b

    I have no idea what kind of minutes Omer will get, and no idea what to expect. So the above prediction is a complete and utter guess. Seems about right for a legit 7-footer who will get decent minutes as a backup center.


    KK is known for looking a lot like Ashton Kutcher:

    And not known for playing great D:

    But all joking aside, he is known for having one very exceptional basketball skill: shooting the 3. Last year with the Jazz, KK only played in 52 games at only 18 minutes per, so he only hoisted 2 three-point attempts per game. However, he managed to make 53% of those attempts - which led the league.

    Not sure how he fits into Thibodeau's defensive scheme, but I'm hoping the Bulls can find more minutes (and more 3-point shots) for Korver this season. Let's not forget that Ray Allen wasn't known as a defensive stud back in the day, but now he holds his own with the Celtics. And that's all we need from Korver, simply to hold his own at that end so that we can take advantage of the spacing he creates at the other end.

    Prediction for 2010-11: 9p/3r/2a

    Most importantly, I'm looking for Korver to put up 3.5-4 three-point attempts per game, and hopefully knockdown about 45-50% of those shots. Not entirely far-fetched.


    The Bulls selected James Johnson 16th overall and he only managed to earn 12 minutes per game during his rookie campaign. Part of that is explained by the fact that he was drafted as a project, and was not in the best shape to start the season ... so the experiment continues for another year.

    Blogabull links to an interview that indicates James Johnson lost about 25lbs from last season, which is a huge step in the right direction. If JJ comes in as a quick/long wing (rather than a slow/overweight wing), that should already be a significant improvement from last year.

    JJ put up 4p/2r in about 12 mpg last season, but could be expected to play ore minutes behind Luol this season. I'm extremely hopeful that Thibodeau's presence will help JJ improve on the defensive end, as he could be asked to help out guarding bigger wings (Melo, LeBron) if Deng gets in foul trouble or needs rest.

    Prediction for 2010-11: 6p/3r

    I know, I know: not a huge jump from last season. But we don't want/need a huge statistical improvement from JJ. What we do need is a more disciplined version, both mentally and physically. When JJ does get his minutes, he won't be asked to take a lot of shots, but rather fall into his role in the second-unit.


CJ Watson was a back-up PG on the Warriors, so it's hard to imagine that Bulls' fans got to see him play very much. Here's how I would describe him: Start with Ben Gordon. Now imagine that he's not quite as good of a shooter, but he actually knows how to dribble. That's pretty much CJ Watson. He's a streaky shooter who can give you a huge scoring burst off the bench every once in a while, or he can be an average shoot-first back-up PG.

The Bulls needed both of those elements, so I loved the trade for CJ. He will handle the ball in the 2nd-unit, giving Rose some rest, and should do pretty well playing alongside Taj and Korver. What do we really expect from a back-up PG anyway? Keep the expectations where they should be, and CJ will surely make everyone happy.

My one concern is that he only averaged 2.8 dimes in 27 mpg last season, so he'll definitely need to create more for others rather than looking for his shot. But he can definitely get to the rim and knock down shots when he is playing well:

Prediction for 2010-11: 7p/4a


Thibodeau has never been a head-coach at the NBA level, but I can say with confidence: This is definitely a major upgrade for the Bulls. Despite not knowing exactly what to expect from another rookie head coach with no experience, we have a general idea what we can expect based on Thibodeau's reputation. DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE.

Thibodeau helped to drastically improve the Celtics D when he joined their staff as an assistant coach in 2007-08. Here is an interview between Kevin Pelton (Basketball Prospectus) and Tom Thibodeau from that time:

The Celtics Defense: Tom Thibodeau Q&A

One of the biggest free-agent additions of the summer of 2007 came not on the court but on the sideline. Tom Thibodeau, long Jeff Van Gundy's right-hand man in New York and Houston, left the Rockets after Van Gundy's departure and joined Doc Rivers in Boston to take responsibility for the Celtics' defense. While Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are the most important newcomers in Boston, Thibodeau deserves credit for molding the team's several new parts into a cohesive defensive unit that ranks as one of the best in modern NBA history.

Earlier this season, I took a look at the Celtics defense and noted that, measured by Defensive Rating relative to league average, Boston was playing the best defense since 1973-74, when the league began tracking turnovers, allowing us to calculate per-possession defensive ratings. The Celtics have slipped slightly from that lofty perch, but not far. Their Defensive Rating is now 8.8 percent better than league average, which would rank them second in NBA history behind the 2003-04 Spurs, who were 9.3 percent better than league average.

So, during media availability at the All-Star Game in New Orleans, I avoided the reporters flocking to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and sought out Thibodeau (idly chatting with a member of Houston's PR staff) to talk defensive philosophy, the individual talents of many of the Celtics, and more.

Kevin Pelton: Over the course of your career, you've been associated with a number of outstanding defensive teams. How does this year's Celtics team compare to the best of those?

Tom Thibodeau: Right now, I'd say the New York teams were much more physical because at that time you were allowed to play much more physical and we had greater size. This team is probably a little bit more versatile. We have guys that can play multiple positions and I think Garnett makes us very unique because of his ability to guard multiple positions. Then a guy like [James] Posey is a terrific team defender, so he gives us that balance there. There's room for improvement with our team right now. We're still moving along and we have to be able to sustain it over the course of the season and obviously carry that through the playoffs. Each and every day, we're still working at it.

KP: This Celtics team ranks amongst the league leaders in steals, while most of your teams have not forced a lot of turnovers or come up with a lot of steals. How is this group different?

TT: It's still the same type of defense that we've always played. Our big thing is to get back, get set, apply hard ball pressure, keep the ball out of the paint, challenge shots and then finish your defense with the rebound. Once we do those things, we want to also use our instincts and [Rajon] Rondo's terrific at reading the ball and getting into passing lanes and that sort of thing, so we want to take advantage of those skills. And of course Garnett is terrific at extending the defense, so we move up the floor with him. I think you combine all those things and the fact that our three top players--Kevin, Paul [Pierce] and Ray are committed to defense, so each and every day they practice hard. They don't take any practices off...a guy like [James] Posey [either], all those guys. Their commitment--and it started from day one--is really what set the tone for us.

That same strategy and defensive forcus should translate directly to the Bulls, as long as the team buys in. That should be made easier by having someone like Joakim Naoh, an energy guy who feeds off defense and rebounding, and who really is the heart-and-soul of this Bulls team. Having one of our best players geared toward defense, and sure to buy into Thib's system, should help the rest of the team fall into place.

And here is an excellent breakdown of exactly how Thibodeau can help make the Bulls better at the defensive end (click for pictures and video):

How Tom Thibodeau Will Make The Bulls’ PNR Defense Even Better

When the Bulls hired Boston Celtic assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, they knew that they are getting one of the best defensive minds in the NBA today. In fact Thibodeau is the man credited for Boston’s top rated defense (according to Synergy, who used Points Per Possession to rank them). However, just because Thibodeau is coming in doesn’t mean that the Bulls defense was terrible last year (they were in fact ranked 8th), and when you think of their roster, it makes sense. You have a big physical and athletic point guard in Derrick Rose, long-athletic wings, and a mobile yet physical big man in Joakim Noah. It’s scary to think about what Thibodeau can do with this roster, and that is without adding LeBron James. What I wanted to do is take a look at some changes the Bulls defense might make with Thibodeau in charge. Specifically the pick and roll.

Surprisingly enough, the Bulls were better/equal to the Celtics when defending the pick and roll (both in terms of defending the ball handler and defending the roll man), according to Synergy (Celtics’ stats in the white and Bulls’ stats in the gray):

Despite the Bulls holding their opponents to a lower points per possession number, the Boston Celtics were able to force more turnovers. Turnovers are important because they allow the team forcing them opportunities to run and get baskets in transition. With the way the Bulls’ roster is currently set up, the more they can get in transition, the better. So what do the Celtics do differently to force all these turnovers?

So what about the offensive end? We can expect some improvement based simply on the fact that we have improved personnel (see: Boozer, Carlos). But we can also expect some improvement from having a consistent offensive approach. I don't know exactly what that will be yet. During the VDN-era, I often complained that despite watching 70-75 Bulls games each season, I was never quite sure what our half-court offense was. Some nights we looked like a pick-and-roll team, others a drive-and-kick team, and still others a stand-around-and-watch-Derrick-do-something-awesome team.

I'm hoping and assuming that Thibodeau (or someone on his staff) will develop and implement an offensive identity for this Bulls team. And if they need ideas, start here: pick-and-roll with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer. The best young/explosive/creative PG in the league paired with a consistent 20ppg PF that has spent his whole career running the pick-and-roll?? Seems like an obvious choice, but it's a can't miss ... especially now that D-Rose has developed that sick little jump-strop-floater-baby-sky-hook from the baseline, and 3-point range (more on that later).

Whatever offensive scheme Thibodeau decides on, we can be sure of one thing: this team will be significantly improved on at least one end of the floor, and that's a great start for a team that made the playoffs under VDN.

Click here for my: Chicago Bulls: 2010-11 Season Preview (Part 2) STARTING LINEUP: DERRICK ROSE, RONNIE BREWER, LUOL DENG, CARLOS BOOZER, JOAKIM NOAH and my overall predictions for the 2010-11 Bulls.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Noah-for-Melo?; Ranking Noah; MJ Breaks Backboard; J is for Jordans; MJ scores 19 in 6 mins; Noah-USA?)

BBS Post: Click-a-Bull (Noah-for-Melo Debate)

Top 50: Joakim Noah, no. 43

Oh man, I can hear it now…

Dude, no way Joakim Noah is better than Ray Allen, Gilbert Arenas, Lamar Odom, OJ Mayo, John Wall, Al Horford and Jason Kidd?! Four of those guys are effing All-Stars for crying out loud!! No way!!

It happens every year. Somebody gets ranked too high, too low, or in some cases, gets omitted altogether, and people freak out. So working under the assumption thatJoakim Noah people will have something to say about Joakim being ranked No. 43 in SLAMonline’s Top 50 (because someone almost assuredly will), this is my rebuttal…

Opinions are like a-holes: Everybody’s got one.

SLAM: For Old Time’s Sake: MJ Breaks Backboard

We Reminisce: Michael Jordan scores 19 points in 6 minutes

The NBA, A-through-Z: Jordans

"J" is for "Jordans."

By the time I decided that I wanted a pair of Air Jordans -- "Jordans," in the parlance I grew up with -- I knew more about Michael Jordan than any 8-year-old on the planet. This kid was well-versed.

But, for whatever reason, those things never struck me as something to wear, despite my obsession with the best player on my favorite team.

Keep in mind, that in second grade I was given an after-school talking-to because my teacher caught me actually attempting to write a Michael Jordan 1987-88-era biography in my sticky-bound three-ring notebook during her lectures on proper nouns. I was a freak, and a Bulls supporter nonpareil.

That summer, and I know it's a bit weird, I endlessly rode my bike to stake out Dave Corzine's parents' house, waiting for his black Porsche 911 Turbo to find its way back home, wondering if I'd get another chance to say "yo" to him. I had missed a few months earlier when walking home from school one day -- again, this is no joke -- he jogged quickly past me before I ran home to get my Converse Larry Bird-stamped basketball for him to sign. One time, after spotting the Porsche, I ran home and wrote him a quick letter asking him, among other things, if he was worried about his starting job due to the drafting of Will Perdue a month prior. When he read it aloud after I handed it to him ... let's just say he was far from bemused.

USA Basketball reached out to Joakim Noah, but he wants to play for France

With the thin front line USA Basketball this summer -- a lot of top names said no then Amar'e Stoudemire, Brook Lopez and David Lee couldn't play -- Jerry Colangelo was calling everyone and anyone. JaVale McGee got multiple chances to make the team. Lamar Odom was the starting center. They were looking around.

That included a call to Joakim Noah. But Noah said no, he wants to play for France, according to an interview in a French paper (translated by Hoopsnotes).

"Cameroon (where his great-father is born) and Sweden (land of his mother) also called me," Joakim Noah said to the Journal du Dimanche. "I was pleased to be contacted by Team USA, which searched valid centers. It could have given me the possibility to play with great players. But I repeat it: I want to play with France, it's my dream."

"That would make my great-mother really happy and I want my family to be proud. This summer, I was in a difficult situation. But I'm coming next year and I will use my blue jersey."

Click-a-Bull (Noah-for-Melo Debate)

Would you deal Joakim Noah for Carmelo Anthony?

Carmelo Anthony is on the market, and indications are that the Bulls are high on his list. That means the Bulls have an opportunity to get their first real top five NBA player since Michael Jordan.

They have been on the lookout for some time. Remember when Kobe Bryant and the Lakers had their detente a few years ago? Chicago was the team vying for Bryant's services. They flirted with Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady in their primes, too. Then, of course, the Bulls were serious finalists in this summer's hunt for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

The city loves basketball, and they have had excellent attendance and TV ratings, even without a Jordan-type figure. This team hardly needs salvation.

But Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has to remember how amazing business was back when there was a superstar in the building.

Now he could have another.

Those with knowledge of the talks say the Bulls would love to have Anthony. But the Nuggets want the conversation to begin with Joakim Noah.

Word is that a package of Noah and Deng would get the deal done. If that's the case, the Bulls are a turning point in their franchise history, with a tough decision to make. Some of the considerations:

Trade Noah

* If you want a superstar, you have to give up something.
* Noah is a promising young big man, but by almost any metric Carmelo Anthony's production is vastly superior. Many have called Anthony the best pure scorer in the NBA.

Pippen: Carmelo Anthony a gamble

Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said he would not trade Bulls center Joakim Noah for Carmelo Anthony, and that acquiring the Denver Nuggets star would be a "huge gamble" for Chicago. reported earlier this month that the Bulls were having internal discussions about whether to include Noah as part of a potential trade package to land Anthony. The Nuggets offered Anthony a three-year, $65 million extension through 2014, but numerous sources told that Denver officials have in recent days let other teams know for the first time that they will listen to pitches after previously resisting such discussions.

"I would definitely think about it very hard," Pippen said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But I don't know ... if I'm a GM, I don't know that I could pull the trigger based on Carmelo's ... sort of what he's doing now. Based on his reputation, I'd probably have to stay with Joakim because you know that this kid is going to come out and play night in and night out. There's no excuses. He's a great teammate. That's what you want."

My first take on the issue from a couple weeks ago:
Carmelo to Bulls? ... Confessions of a "Melo Lover"

I will say it up front: I love Carmelo Anthony. I have loved him since he lead Syracuse to the NCAA championship with a 20/10 in the title game. I love that he is with Jordan Brand. I love that he can straight up score the basketball. But I don't think I would love Melo in a Bulls uniform ...

And my updated thoughts after I heard the Noah + Deng for Melo rumors: Melo to Bulls? ... Updated Thoughts

This morning I woke up to rumors swirling that Melo wanted to be traded to the Bulls (or Knicks). Then I heard rumors that the Bulls were looking at Melo for Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. So what did I do? I played devil's advocate, and made the argument that the trade would not help the Bulls. In reality, I would make that trade in a heart-beat. I realize that it's only an offensive upgrade at small forward (and a clear defensive downgrade), plus we're giving up our (potentially much-needed) depth at power forward by including Taj. Oh well, it's Carmelo Anthony! As DC pointed out in the comments on today's earlier post, Melo is the go-to scoring option that the Bulls have lacked since 1998. Make that trade!

Then later this afternoon, there were rumors that the trade was not Deng + Taj for Melo, but instead it was Deng and Noah for Melo, and I was no longer playing devil's advocate. I hated the thought of including Noah. Even if that's the only way to shed Deng's terrible contract, I don't want any part of giving up our young center. Especially not to make a one-sided upgrade at small forward. Substituting Melo for Deng + Noah might make us the worst defensive team in the league, even with Thibodeau coaching the Bulls. It seems like a bad idea no matter how you look at it.

But then I read this: Bulls offered Noah 60 million?

My final thought on the issue: Trading Deng (a Top 10 small forward) for Melo (a top 3 small forward and top 12 player overall) makes sense. But throwing in a top 10 center, and arguably could be a top 5 center after this season, seems crazy. Even trading Noah straight up for Melo makes sense, assuming we could flip Deng for some average-to-above-average big. But that combo is a lot to give up for Melo. Yes, it makes us a better team offensively, but it hurts in every other area of the game.

That means 3 of our starting 5 (Rose, Melo, Boozer) are just terrible on defense, and they have no center behind them to help cover their mistakes. And here's the trade-off we're getting offensively: Last season Melo scored 28.2ppg on 21 shots per game. Noah + Deng is 28.3 ppg on 22.3 shots per game. Now I realize it's very different to have Melo putting up 21 shots because he is a go-to scorer that can get buckets whenever you need them, but the 28ppg he scores is not very efficient, and not a big upgrade from what we get out of Noah + Deng. And that's a comparison of what Melo does well, so it doesn't consider the points Deng + Noah save on the defensive end compared to the points Melo + no center give up.

All that being said, if Noah really is demanding a 5-year extension for $70-75 million, I would make this trade. I'd rather be locked into 3 big contracts of Rose/Boozer/Melo than Rose/Boozer/Noah ... but either of those trios is still not enough to get a championship. I prefer to keep Noah (for a reasonable contract), but if we're paying max or near-max money and locking in our roster, I'd rather pay that money to Melo than Noah. Strictly on court, I think Deng + Noah for Melo is a bad trade, but considering the prospective salaries/contracts of each player involved, you have to get the best possible player when your paying max or near-max money. Paying a lesser player near-max money is the type of move that can cripple a franchise for years.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello, D.J. Moore!

I had to let the bears victory over the cowboys sink in for a while before i wrote this, otherwise it would have been to homerific and optimistic. The Bears won in impressive fashion against the Cowboys yesterday there is no doubt. The real question is how good is this bears team and we should get an indication on next Monday versus the Packers in Soldier Field. Either way the bears have started better than pretty much everyone (including myself) expected them to.

The Good:
- Jay Culter. A couple more games like the first 2 and we will be talking about Culter not just being in the pro bowl but starting it. Honestly, Im not sure Jay could have been more impressive than he was in this game. He made the right reads, he was spot on accurate and he took some nasty hits but got right back up. He looks like the franchise quarterback that everyone has hoped he will be.
- DBs. The bears gave up a lot of passing yards but that show how impressive Zach Bowman, Peanut Tillman and the rest of the crew were in the secondary. When a team throws 51 times you are gonna give up some yards. But DJ Moore had 2 picks and Tillman punched another fumble and this team is all about turnovers. But more so than just turnovers, the cowboys didnt get big plays. Romo checked the ball down a lot and the bears DBs played good coverage so there was no opportunity for good plays.
- Frank Omiyale. I dont particular like the player that "Ole" Omiyale has been with the bears. But he had a spectacular game on sunday. He switched over to the left tackle after Williams went down and he played very well. His play was a big reason why the line settled down after the first 2 series.

The Bad:
- No run game. To be a good team, the bears are gonna have to figure out how to run the ball. They averaged below 3 yards per carry yesterday and that is just not acceptable. I'll give Martz credit, he stuck with the run but he needs to come up with a way of the bears being more effective on the ground.
- The OL's start. After the first 2 series, I was almost hoping they would pull Cutler because he literally was gonna get killed. But to the O-line's credit, they somehow pulled together and had a decent game. They still couldnt block DeMarcus Ware but no one really can. Still I'm sure Jay is waking up today black and blue.
- No sacks. I dont need 12 sacks a game but i would like consistent pressure. Besides Peppers, who was basically double teamed every play, the bears didnt get a lot of pressure on Romo. Toenia and Melton gave some noticeable pass rush push but almost everyone else on the D-line had a subpar game. Tommie Harris may be healthy but he isnt the tommie harris that went to 3 straight pro-bowls anymore. The bears still need to find more consistent pash rush.

The Splendid: Devin Hester and your WRs. They were great all day and made big plays and the right adjustments. Not only did Cutler have maybe his best game as a bear but the WRs might have had their best day as group. This is a dangerous group and I think they can only get better and you will be seeing more run after the catch from this group as defenses become more frighten of getting beat over the top. And how bout that Hester 1-handed TD grab!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 2 v. the team america hates

Alright so i dont know if America hates the cowboys. But, they should and I sure do. They are right behind the Packers and Vikings on my hate scale. The Cowboys are coming off a pretty embarrassing loss to the Redskins. They were heavy favorites in the game and their supposedly high power offense did nothing and looked terrible doing it. They might have more questions on the offensive line then the bears do. So, here are the matchups to watch, the keys to the bears success and my hero of the day.

1. Chris Williams v. DeMarcus Ware. All Ware has done is record 11+ sacks in the past 4 years including 20 in '08. All Chris Williams has done is look like shit all preseason and in the first game when going against good pass rushers. No team can block Ware 1 on 1 and hope their QB lives through the game. The bears will double team, cut block and chip with backs and TEs all day but occasionally Ware will be 1 on 1 with Williams. Can Williams do enough to not get Cutler killed?
2. Tommie Harris & Anthony Adams v. the guards of the Cowboys. There is no question that Peppers will provide pressure from the outside he. He is that good that you can count on it every game. But will the huge man that is Leonard Davis, listed at 370, and the rest of the Cowboys huge interior line consume the bears' DTs? If the bears cant get penetration up the middle then the cowboys will run all over the place and with their dynamic passing attack be pretty much unstoppable for the bears D.
3. Devin Hester v. Terrence Newman. This isn't because hester has gotten so much attention this week for only catching 1 catch last week. Its because it seems that other teams deem Hester the bears #1 WR and put their best corner on him. The cowboys bring a lot of pressure and a lot of blitzing with their front 7 so Newman is constantly left 1 on 1 with the other teams top WR. If Hester can beat Newman a couple of times in the game, it will make the cowboys dial down the blitzes and give Cutler more time.

Keys for the Bears:
1. Get off the bus running. The bears ran the ball 31 times last week but only for a 3.3 yd avg. That needs to improve and they need to be able to pick up chucks of yardage on the ground against the 'boys. It will prevent hits on cutler and it will slow down the pass rush. The line must figure out how to run block against a 3-4 defense.
2. Contain Jason Witten. There was no question that last year the bears were vulnerable down the middle and to good TEs. Witten is about as good as they come at TE and he is questioned Romo's favorite target. Urlacher, Briggs and the safeties must locate Witten and not allow him to pick up big chunks of yardage down the middle of the field. Nothing is more disheartening to a defense.
3. Special teams be "special". For years the bears have had one of the best special teams units in the NFL but in week 1, they looked average. I think for the bears to win this game the special teams must come up with a big, momentum changing play, be it a long return or kick block or forced fumble. This is one area where the bears probably have more talent than the cowboys and it needs to show up.

Hero of the day: Johnny Knox. As i said above the cowboys bring a lot of guys on the blitz and leave their corners 1 on 1 with WRs. Knox and Cutler should have a few shots at deep balls in man coverage and Knox can out run any of the 'boys secondary. Look for a big shot over the defense's head and for Knox dancing in the endzone if Cutler can recognize the coverage/blitz and have time to put it up.

Final Score: I think this will be a very close game. A lot closer than the nine points that the cowboys are favored by. In the end, i think it will come down to a score in the 4th quarter to pull ahead and i have no idea which team that will be. I'll take the cowboys just because i think they have too much talent on the offensive side of the ball even though they didnt show it last week.

Cowboys 24, Bears 21

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Click-a-Bull (MJ's Greatest Moments; Noah For Melo?; CJ Watson / Floyd Mayweather)


Dump Noah for Melo? Chicago wise to back off that idea

If the Chicago Bulls really want to hold internal, high-level discussions about the possibility of trading Joakim Noah, they might want to work from a list of possible acquisitions that looks something like this:

1. Dwight Howard
2. LeBron James
3. Kevin Durant
4. Dwyane Wade
5. Kobe Bryant
6. Dirk Nowitzki
7. Andrew Bogut
8. Brook Lopez?
9. Uh, we're thinking...

The list, depending on your perspective of the Bulls' needs and Noah's value, might be toyed with some, adding or dropping a few names near the top. But the point is, Carmelo Anthony isn't on my list of players for whom the Bulls should swap out Noah. And fortunately for the Bulls and their fans, he does not seem to be on the Chicago front office's list, either.

Read my thoughts on the possible Noah-for-Melo trade here: Melo to Bulls? ... Updated Thoughts

This morning I woke up to rumors swirling that Melo wanted to be traded to the Bulls (or Knicks). Then I heard rumors that the Bulls were looking at Melo for Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. So what did I do? I played devil's advocate, and made the argument that the trade would not help the Bulls. In reality, I would make that trade in a heart-beat. I realize that it's only an offensive upgrade at small forward (and a clear defensive downgrade), plus we're giving up our (potentially much-needed) depth at power forward by including Taj. Oh well, it's Carmelo Anthony! As DC pointed out in the comments on today's earlier post, Melo is the go-to scoring option that the Bulls have lacked since 1998. Make that trade!

Then later this afternoon, there were rumors that the trade was not Deng + Taj for Melo, but instead it was Deng and Noah for Melo, and I was no longer playing devil's advocate. I hated the thought of including Noah. Even if that's the only way to shed Deng's terrible contract, I don't want any part of giving up our young center. Especially not to make a one-sided upgrade at small forward. Substituting Melo for Deng + Noah might make us the worst defensive team in the league, even with Thibodeau coaching the Bulls. It seems like a bad idea no matter how you look at it.

Bulls guard C.J. Watson's name surfaces in police report for Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s arrest

Chicago Bulls guard C.J. Watson apparently triggered a violent argument last week between boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the mother of three of his children that resulted in Mayweather's arrest, TMZ reports.

Mayweather confronted Josie Harris in her Las Vegas home, grabbing her phone and reading her text messages. According to the police report, he yelled, "are you having sex with C.J.?" She replied, "yes." The boxer then began pulling her hair and hitting her, the report stated. Mayweather also said he would make Watson and Harris "disappear," the report alleges.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Derrick Rose Top 10 Dunks

The start of fooball season means only one thing: we are that much closer to the start of NBA season! This should get you excited:

Monday, September 13, 2010

It sure doesn't feel like a win...

but it counts as one. Bottom line is that the bears are 1-0. The lions lost the game on technicality which i dont agree with but I and the bears will take the W. Now my general impressions of the game was mostly positive for the bears.

The Good: The offense looked good/better than i thought it would. They moved the ball on the Lions and racked up a ton of yards. The offense looked to be in sync and I was impressed with Martz's play calling. It was as good as advertised.
- Jay Culter was very good in yesterday's game. Yes, he threw an inception and had a fumble but he was poised in the pocket after he got hit a lot. He even threw the ball away a couple of times where his WRs were covered after forcing the ball on his inception. He even took a couple of sacks in those situations where last year he would have chucked it up. This is the type of improvement that I think every bears' fan has been looking for from Jay. Plus he threw for 370+ yards. I would give him a B+ for the game.
- Brian Urlacher & the defense - Urlacher looked like the guy that won a Defensive Player of year award. He was everywhere and huge on sunday. He looked faster and hitter harder than I have seen him since 2007. There was no question that his presence on defense made a huge difference. The line keep the O-line off of him and he flew through the gaps and made big impact plays. The defense as a whole was very impressive. Not just because they held the Lions to 1 first down until the last drive in the 2nd half. But because they pretty much shut down Calvin Johnson who is ridiculously good and they held the lions to 20 yds rushing. They had pressure on the QB and Peppers knocked out Stafford. They made plays and created turnovers and only allowed the Lions to convert on 29% of their 3rd downs. We never saw the defense look this good last year. It gives me hope for the rest of the season.

The Bad: Turnovers - The bears turned the ball over 4 times and twice in the red zone. It cost the bears what should have been a blowout. Also, the only points that the Lions scored happened right after a bears turnover. Most games you cant turn the ball over 4 times and win. Forte had 2 fumbles in what was an otherwise spectacular game. Greg Olson also had a fumble and I swear I feel like he is gonna fumble every time he gets hit. The bears must protect the ball better next week to win and as a result put more points on the board.
- Run blocking - Did the bears run block? I'm not sure there was a hole for Forte or Taylor had to run through. The line did alright pass blocking too but they only averaged 3.3 yds per carry. Maybe the Lions' defensive front is that good this season with Suh and company. And did i mention they couldn't pound in the ball from the 1 in 3 tries. The run blocking needs to improve a lot.
- Devin Hester - Was Devin even on the field with the offense? On a day which Culter threw for 372 yds, Hester caught 1 pass for 7 yards. Either Devin did something to piss Culter off or he just wasnt able to get open against a Lions' secondary that was burned by all the other bears. Hester has too much break away ability to only touch the ball once a game on offense. Martz & company need to remedy this for next week v. Dallas.

The Ugly: I think Lovie is a fucking moron for not kicking the FG to go ahead in the game and his explanation after the game was even more idiotic. If your justification is that your defense has been stopping the Lions the whole game then how you do you not take the lead and then let your defense stop them??? Just a stupid decision.
Also, Lovie's bears with the lead have always gone into what i like to call their "shell" defense which is really a cover 3 or quarters pass defense and it drives me insane. Here the bears had been killing the Lions all afternoon by only allowing them 1 first down the entire 2nd half but instead of keeping your aggressive defensive style, they drop into passive coverage and allow the Lions to dink & dunk their way down the field. It kills me and they do it all the time and it should have cost them the game. I will never understand it and they do it every time they have the lead and the other team is forced into passing drive to try and win it. It is just so stupid to all of a sudden change the type of defense you have been playing all game!

The bears played better than I thought they would and except for their own mistakes, they would have won this game by a lot more. I happy to say it was a good first game and I look for more improvement next week.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bears Season Preview

Honestly, this could be an 8 page post but I will struggle to keep it brief as possible. I will go on the record right now and say I'm not a big Lovie fan and didn't agree with the hire of Martz. With that said, every sunday I go into the game thinking that they will win. It's gonna be a very interesting season that I know for sure with a ton of ups and downs.

QB - We all know that Lovie is full of it when he says that "this team still gets off the bus running". The offense of Martz's has always depended on the QB and this team will depend on Cutler's right arm. Cutler has all the talent in the world and we can only hope that he will turn it around in his 2nd year in the bears' uni. He will throw a boat load of interceptions there is no doubt but he should be up in the 30s in TDs and should average 270+ yards per game. This team will lean on Jay and he has to step up and respond. This season has the chance to propel him into the elite tier of NFL QBs. As for the backups, Cutler has been as durable and if the Bears see Todd Collins or Caleb Hanie on the field for more than 1 game then you can kiss this season and Lovie's job goodbye.

RBs - So, the last time Chestor Taylor went to a team to split carries with a back, the back turned into the machine known as Adrian Peterson. Could this be a repeat theme with Matt Forte? I certainly hope so (othewise, i wasted money on that Forte jersey!). Seriously, though both Forte and Taylor are exactly the type of RBs needed for Martz's offense. They are both great in space and have good hands. Martz will run the ball probably because Lovie has told him he has to and so that Cutler wont get hit every play. I dont think either back will get 1000 yds rushing but the bears running attack should be vastly improved just because of a healthy Forte and because draws will work when you throw 70% of the time. Also, look for Martz to really use Forte and Taylor in the passing game to offset some of the lack of running. Screens, designed swing passes and deep routes for the RBs are frequent in the Martz offense and fit nicely with the bears' backs skill set. Bell and Wolfe provide some nice depth but really should factor into this season besides maybe on special teams.

WRs - I'm not sure if this Martz offense makes WRs look good or vice-a-versa. But either way Martz's WRs have a history of having big years. Now, this is the position that I really think will make or break the bears offense. The bears have talent at the position with Knox, Aromashadu, Hester, and Bennett. The question is can they be on the same page as Cutler because this offense is all about timing with them running their route precisely and not allowing the defense to disrupt their timing. If the WRs are not on the same page as Jay and off with their routes, this offense wont be as successful as we have seen in the past and hope it will be this year.

O-line: I'm not gonna beat a dead horse here. The line needs to be better than it was in preseason. I think Lance Louis and Frank Oh-my-god wouldnt start for a lot of NFL teams but that is who the bears are stuck with and we must hope the line can work as a unit together. I dont think they will ever be a great O-line and maybe not even a good O-line but they can be an average O-line which would be enough for the bears to win quite a few games. Under Martz historically QBs get sacked around 2-3 times per game. (yes this stat includes his time with the rams). So, we know Cutler is gonna get hit and sacked. The biggest question is can this line run block and can Jay have enough confidence to stand in the pocket and not get happy feet? I have no idea to the anwers but i hope yes.

Defense - They arent the monsters of the midway anymore and they wont regain the title either. But they have enough talent to be a top -10 defense in the league.

D-line: Peppers is a stud and should get 10+ sacks. Tommie Harris looks to be somewhat healthy and can maybe play the whole season without getting hurt. But now in the NFL, you have to have atleast 3 good pass rushers on the team and i dont whether/if the bears can find the 3rd one. I have given up on Mark Anderson, Idonije will be solid player but nothing special, and Anthony Adams is a solid middle filler but not a pass rusher. The bears must hope that Henry Melton, Marcus Harrison, Matt Toenia or Corey Wotten can take a huge step forward and provide the pass rush that is needed in the NFL today. The bears have always stopped the run when healthy and it will be more of the same this year. Its really all about getting to the QB.

LBs: There is no question that this is the most talented position on the bears and when healthy they have 3 potential pro bowl LBs in briggs, urlacher, and tinoisamoa. The questions are two-fold. 1 - Can they stay healthy? 2 - Can they just be allowed to play LB? #1 is kind of out of anyone's control and we just have to hope for the best. But what i mean by #2 is that the bears LBs are not at their best when they are blitzing or having to take on OL men and shedding the blockers. The bears LBs and specifically Urlacher and Briggs are best when they can see the play and attack the play with their speed. Their ability all comes down the Dline really. If the Dline is able to absorb/engage the offensive line then the LBs can roam and attack the ball. (why Urlacher had his best years with people eaters like Ted Washington and Keith Traylor on the Dline). Also, the LBs are pass rushers and their strength isn't blitzing either. If the D-line can get get pressure then the LBs should be allowed to roam and we should see atleast 2 pro bowlers from this group.

DBs: This is the bears thinist position talent wise. Bowman on the corner could be a very good player and Peanut Tillman will be solid although not great in man to man coverage. After that the bears have no depth at CB. If bowman or peanut have to miss significant time, it will get ugly. The bears have to hope that an improved pass rush will take some pressure off the CBs. At safety, the bears are unsettled. To start the year, Chris Harris will start at Free safety a position that he doesnt have the speed to play and Danieal Manning will start at Strong safety. I think sooner than later you will see Major Wright start at Free and move Harris to strong where he can be alright player. Manning has all the talent in the world but cant seem to put it to good use. The overall point of the bears DBs is that there isnt a play maker among them. Unless Bowman or Wright emerge as playmakers, this secondary is at best average and the defense will need the front seven to be good to great to cover up the secondary.

Special teams: The bears have had one of the top special teams units in the NFL for years and that shouldnt change this year. Robbie Gould is automatic and Brad Maynard is skilled at directionly punting which the bears value over leg stregnth. Hester, Manning and Knox will all be returning punts and kicks and i would look for 2+ TDs from them combined this year and pray that Devin can regain his 2006/7 form.

The Schedule: The bears schedule goes in waves with incredibly hard stretches followed by easy games. After much agonizing, here's what i think will happen this season.

Week 1 - Lions at home -- W (34-21 The lions are better but still not good)
Week 2 - at Cowboys -- L (The cowboys have too much talent and too good of pass rush)
Week 3 - Packers at home -- L (The pack is the class of the division and sadly they will win big)
Week 4 - at Giants -- L (Same as the coboys, too much talent and too much pass rush)
Week 5 - at Panthers -- W (Bears shut down the run & run all over the panthers, plus revenge game for peppers)
Week 6 - Seahawks at home -- W (Seahawks are terrible)
Week 7 - Redskins at home -- W (McNabb will be hurt by then)
Week 8 - bye
Week 9- Bills in toronto -- W (Bills are like a triple AAA football team)
Week 10- Vikings at home -- W (They have split with the viking 7 out of the 11 seasons)
Week 11 - at Dolphins -- L (Their defense will disrupt Culter & the passing game)
Week 12 - Eagles at home -- W (Kolb will have many bumps along the road including this game)
Week 13 - at Lions -- W (The lions still arent good)
Week 14 - Patriots at home -- W (Its not the same Pats team of years past and yep this is a gut call)
Week 15 - at Vikings -- L (I hate that stupid horn they have)
Week 16 - Jets at home -- L (Can the bears get more than 150 yds against the Jets D?)
Week 17 - at Packers -- L (Unless the pack doesnt need this game for playoffs, this will be a L)

Overall Record of 9-7. Yesterday I had them at 8-8 with losing both to the vikings but the vikes looked bad last night and i think the bears can steal one from them. Still they wont be in playoff contention because i think year in the NFC you need to win 10 to get the playoffs and their schedule in december is brutal. We will see flashes from the offense but the defense will be up and down every game. There might be a chance to sneak in the playoffs but the real suspense will be, does 9-7 save Lovie's job?? Let's settle in for a season of ups and downs and it will glue all us bears fans to the TVs every week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Melo to Bulls? ... Updated Thoughts

This morning I woke up to rumors swirling that Melo wanted to be traded to the Bulls (or Knicks). Then I heard rumors that the Bulls were looking at Melo for Luol Deng and Taj Gibson. So what did I do? I played devil's advocate, and made the argument that the trade would not help the Bulls. In reality, I would make that trade in a heart-beat. I realize that it's only an offensive upgrade at small forward (and a clear defensive downgrade), plus we're giving up our (potentially much-needed) depth at power forward by including Taj. Oh well, it's Carmelo Anthony! As DC pointed out in the comments on today's earlier post, Melo is the go-to scoring option that the Bulls have lacked since 1998. Make that trade!

Then later this afternoon, there were rumors that the trade was not Deng + Taj for Melo, but instead it was Deng and Noah for Melo, and I was no longer playing devil's advocate. I hated the thought of including Noah. Even if that's the only way to shed Deng's terrible contract, I don't want any part of giving up our young center. Especially not to make a one-sided upgrade at small forward. Substituting Melo for Deng + Noah might make us the worst defensive team in the league, even with Thibodeau coaching the Bulls. It seems like a bad idea no matter how you look at it.

But then I read this: Bulls offered Noah 60 million?

Per Alex Kennedy's twitter:

The Chicago Bulls offered Joakim Noah a five-year, $60 million extension two weeks ago. Hard to believe that they're ready to move him now.

Well that's a sobering thought for anyone who thought Noah would come cheaply. That's more than I'd offer this season, it could be the max contract next season, and depending how the cap rules change that's not such a hot deal.

This is part of the reason I'm willing to part with Noah for Melo, even though I absolutely love him as a player, when his extension kicks in, he's going to be very highly played for a guy who's relatively limited offensively and isn't a shut down defender.

So if Noah was offered $60M, and presumably did not accept, he is clearly looking to be paid MORE THAN that on the open market. I love Noah, just read my season preview from last season:
I have never had a bigger swing on any athlete (except daily with BG for the last 2 years). I hated JoaNoah at Florida. I convinced myself to give him a chance when the Bulls drafted him. He started to grow on me, then last season I started to like him. A young, energetic center who can play D, grab boards and doesn't care about offensive stats ... what's not to like? Then came the Celtics series, and the steal. If it didn't happen before that, that was the moment when JoaNoah entered Bulls lore and became a true Bull in the eyes of Bulls fans. He went from being some guy we didn't really understand, to "our guy". And for all that, at some point he became the most un-tradeable Bull not named D-Rose.

But I love him slightly less at more than $12M per year. Actually, significantly less. I'm not saying that I want to make the trade of Deng/Noah for Melo, but it is worth considering. Paying Noah all that money (and owing Rose am extension at some point in the next 2 years) would really handcuff the Bulls. We would have a very solid core, but we would be locked in. And would it be enough to compete for a title?? If the choice is paying all that money for a top 10-12 CENTER, or paying it to a top 10-12 OVERALL TALENT in the NBA, I think the choice is harder than it originally seemed.

Let me know what you think in the comments: Should the Bulls really consider Deng + Noah for Melo?!

Carmelo to Bulls? ... Confessions of a "Melo Lover"

I will say it up front: I love Carmelo Anthony. I have loved him since he lead Syracuse to the NCAA championship with a 20/10 in the title game. I love that he is with Jordan Brand. I love that he can straight up score the basketball. But I don't think I would love Melo in a Bulls uniform ...

If the title and tone of this post seem familiar, it's because I wrote the exact opposite piece about LeBron a few months ago:
As a die-hard NBA fan, I watch a lot of basketball. I recognize talent, and it's obvious that LeBron is the best player in the Association. (I might technically argue that Kobe is a better basketball player and LeBron is the best athlete playing basketball, but that's not the point.) LeBron is awesome. I went to game 3 of the Bulls/Cavs series a couple weeks ago, and it was incredible. I hated every single second of it, but LeBron was ridiculous. Just so we're clear, I get it: he's great. So would I want the best player on my team? Seems dumb to say no. But I hate him so much, how can I possibly say yes?

I will cheer for the Bulls. I will hope they win every game, just like I do now and always have. But I will never love LeBron the way I love those 1990s Bulls players: MJ, Pippen, BJ Armstrong, Jud Buechler, Horace, Rodman, Will Perdue, Craig Hodges, Cliff Levingston (the list goes on and on ...) and current Bulls D-Rose and JoaNoah. I will never love LeBron like that. He will never be included in my list of "Top 10 Favorite Bulls' Players" (or even my 'Top 25'). I hate him enough that I can be sure of that.

Now the rumors are swirling that Melo wants to be traded to the Bulls:

Carmelo Anthony(notes) still hopes to persuade the Denver Nuggets to trade him, preferably to either the Chicago Bulls or New York Knicks, an NBA source with knowledge of Anthony’s wishes told Yahoo! Sports.

The Knicks have limited assets to offer the Nuggets, which makes the Bulls a more appealing potential trade partner. The Bulls can offer a replacement small forward in Luol Deng(notes), as well as two young forwards in James Johnson(notes) and Taj Gibson(notes). New York officials would like to make a run at signing Anthony next summer if he were to opt to become a free agent. The Knicks will have salary-cap room with Eddy Curry’s(notes) contract expiring after the season.

At first glance, I wouldn't hesitate ... we have make that trade. Deng has a terrible contract, and the other 2 players aren't even starters. But then I got to thinking about everything I've been reading over the last few months ...

Is Deng's contract really that bad? I hate to admit it, but no, it's not:
Now let’s take a quick peek at the comparitive 2010-11 salaries of Dwyer’s top eight SFs (from ShamSports): LeBron ($14,500,000), Durant ($6,053,663 from his rookie contract but jumping to $13,603,750 in 2011-12), ‘Melo ($17,149,243), Wallace ($10,500,000), Iggy ($12,345,250), Granger ($10,973,202), Pierce ($13,876,321) and Deng ($11,345,000).

This biggest knock against Deng is his supposedly cap-killing contract. And yet based on Dwyer’s rankings, Deng’s pay is roughly commensurate with his standing among the league’s elite small forwards.

And is Melo really as good as we think he is? I hate to admit it, but no, he's not:
Of course, whether he actually is on that level is another question. The “is Melo an elite player?” debate was widely discussed throughout the blogosphere over the past few weeks. (We miss you, NBA. Please grab this stupid summer thing by the nose and banish it forever). Statistical master wizard (it’s when you’re too masterful to be just a wizard, but too wizardy to be just a master) Tom Haberstroh pointed out over at ESPN Insider that Melo’s greatest skill – scoring the basketball – is overblown because of his less-than-stellar efficiency at doing so.

“Let’s first talk about Anthony’s shot volume. It’s not exactly a secret that ‘Melo likes to shoot the rock, but his propensity to launch shots may raise some eyebrows. This past season, no player in the NBA took more shots per minute than Anthony — not Kobe, not LeBron, not even scoring champ Kevin Durant.

[Note to readers: be sure to click on both of the above links for a great breakdown of both Deng (from 'By The Horns') and Melo (from 'Both Teams Played Hard'). Both posts are must-read when you are considering this trade.]

So now the trade seems less like the obvious, no-doubter that I first thought it was. And that's just considering that maybe Deng isn't so bad after-all. Then we have to consider that we're also including our backup PF, a second-year player who put up a steady 9/7.5 his rookie year. I'm not trying to imply that Deng and Taj should be untouchable ... they definitely should not be that. But I think the Bulls made some legit improvements in the past two months, and I don't think Melo is the missing piece that gets us from contender to NBA championship. I would rather let this team go into the season as is and see what happens, rather than salvaging part of the young core for a player that might not be the missing piece.

I could be wrong, I am the same person who hated the Taj pick because I was certain Ty Thomas was our PF of the future. But coming from someone that loves Melo, and has openly hated on Deng and his contract, maybe my hesitation actually means something this time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Derrick Rose Links; Bulls NBA Jam Roster) + Derrick Rose Crossovers [VIDEOS]

It's my birthday today, and nothing makes me happier than reading about D-Rose adding more elements to his game. We've watched two years of teams playing five feet off him to prevent him from getting to the rim, and it hasn't worked. If he develops a true 3-point shot, forcing defenders to step out, he will be unguardable ... and I cannot wait to witness it.


Bulls' Rose putting in extra practice on shooting NBA threes

In his two seasons with the Chicago Bulls, point guard Derrick Rose(notes) has produced an unimpressive 3-point shooting percentage of .242.

Rose tells the Chicago Tribune that he's been working extra on nailing those long-range shots to open up his game and the floor for his Bulls teammates. His work paid off for Team USA the other day when he hit three-of-four shots from 3-point range.

Derrick Rose Wants to Become a Three-Point Shooter

Derrick Rose became one of the NBA’s most exciting players by doing one thing, and one thing alone: attacking the cup with reckless abandon. It resulted in countless highlights, and all kinds of exposure for the young point guard.

Rose plans on adding another layer to his already impressive offensive repertoire.

As a member of Team USA, and encouraged by the shorter three-point line in FIBA play, D-Rose has begun to tinker with his outside shooting. Derrick tells the Chicago Tribune that we could see him hoist a few more threes next season in Chicago:

Averaging 8.5 points and 2.9 assists in six starts, Rose has emerged as a vocal leader at the advice of coach Mike Krzyzewski and has continued to develop a 3-point touch that will dangerously round out his offensive game.

No ego, no maintenance, that's Rose

Bulls point guard impresses Coach K, Team USA teammates on European trip

Standing in his hotel along the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Derrick Rose confessed there have been times since his European basketball tour began last month when he has just stood around and watched with wide eyes.

But only when taking a shot meant pointing a camera.

"There's a bridge by our hotel that connects two continents, can you believe that?" Rose said in a phone interview Monday night after Team USA's 121-66 romp over Angola in the FIBA World Championship. "If I go out the back by the pool, I can see Asia. That's crazy."

That's the same reaction Rose had in an Athens museum, staring in awe at a bronze statue of the Greek god Zeus. And in Madrid, where the way the Spanish capital lit up its buildings at night impressed a Chicago kid who knows a majestic skyline when he sees it.

"Every city has its own special sights," said Rose, who had nine points and six assists Monday. "I'm blessed to be traveling and soaking it all in right now."

Chicago Bulls NBA Jam Roster Revealed - Includes Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, No Jordan

The upcoming NBA Jam game recently added a couple of Bulls greats to its roster, but don't expect The Great One to appear. confirmed Tuesday that Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman are the Bulls' "Legends" that will appear in NBA Jam, coming to Nintendo Wii next month and as a downloadable bonus with new copies of NBA Elite 11 for Xbox 360 and PS3.

Michael Jordan is a no show, but that's probably because he has an entire game to himself on the way - NBA 2K11.
Each NBA team has three or four active players to represent them, as determined by fan voting (with the exception of Gilbert Arenas, who made the cut but was left out of the voting after that handgun debacle), explained ESPN.

The final Bulls roster in addition to Scottie and Dennis consists of: Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. The game will also feature the infamous Miami trio of LeBron and Wade and Bosh as well as host of other legends like Larry Bird and Dr. J.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Boozer on Winning Championship; Thibodeau on Rose; Rudy F)

Carlos Boozer thinking big

Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer has lofty expectations for his new team this season.

"A championship," he told on Wednesday night after a Nike House of Hoops event. "I think a realistic goal for us is a championship. I think anything shorter than that we're setting ourselves up to be shorter than what we can reach. I think [we have] potential to be a championship-level team."

One of the reasons Boozer feels so confident is due to the fact that he gets to play with the Bulls' 21-year-old All-Star point guard, Derrick Rose.

"He's tight," Boozer said. "He can play. With our combination of what we have on our team, with myself in the post, with D. Rose at the point guard spot, Joakim [Noah] plugging that middle up, Luol Deng being very versatile on the wing, I think we have a team that can rival anybody. I think we'll be able to compete against every team in the league."

When it comes to Rose's progression specifically, Boozer isn't surprised at all that his new teammate is succeeding under the tutelage of his former college coach at Duke and current Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"I think [Rose] went out there and made that team, proved to be the starter for that team," Boozer said. "Coach K loves him, of course, and they've been able to compete and have a chance to win. I think they're a game or two away from winning the gold and hopefully they can bring it back for us."

Home > Sports
Thibodeau says he's not worried Rose is getting burned out

New Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says he is not concerned that his All-Star guard, Derrick Rose, might be burned out for the start of the NBA season after playing for Team USA this summer.

"He has been terrific," Thibodeau said. "And the way he practices ... I'm real excited. I thought he showed great leadership out there, and their team is playing extremely well right now. … I think being around those types of players and being around that type of competition is great. I think he will take a lot from it."

Joakim Noah also endorses Rose's European experience: "I see Derrick on TV and he looks pretty good," said Noah. "I know that Derrick always works very hard and he is going to be in great game shape. He has a chance to win a medal. He's doing big things ... sometimes you forget he is only 21 years old."

Bulls / Blazers still working on Rudy trade?

Per hoopsworld:

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls are continuing their weeks-long pursuit of Fernandez, and do have a first round pick to offer. The Bulls were rumored to be offering James Johnson and a pick back in August, but nothing ever came of that deal. Johnson, a second-year pro out of Wake Forest, would add additional depth at the four spot for Portland. The Blazers, you'll recall, signed restricted free agent Paul Millsap to an offer sheet last summer, only to see it matched by the Utah Jazz. The Blazers added Jeff Pendergraph last season, but would like to have another young prospect at the four behind starter LaMarcus Aldridge.

The closer we get to training camp the less likely it seems that Fernandez will be in a Blazers uniform when he returns from playing overseas. Chicago looks like the early favorite, but the Blazers will likely wait until the last minute to make sure no other suitors step into the conversation.

James Johnson and a 1st makes a lot of sense for the Bulls, does it make sense for Portland? I think it does. It gives them a pick and a prospect, and if they don't like Johnson, then they can just take the pick because we have cap room.