BBS: 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
guessworktough predictions for the upcoming season. Here we go:
BlogaBull: Chicago Bulls NBA Blogger Preview (2010-11 Season)
Team Name: Chicago Bulls
Last Year’s Record: 41-41
Key Losses: Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller
Key Additions: Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Tom Thibodeau (head coach)
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
The Bulls have spent the past 2 seasons clearing out long-term contracts in preparation for the 2010 free agent class. Rotation players John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas were shipped out for expiring contracts at the trade deadline, and the Bulls used their 2010 first-rounder to dump Kirk Hinrich and his two remaining contract years on the Wizards. Bulls fans knew to expect that most of the team that made the playoffs the past two seasons would be gone, but a strong group remained in Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson with enough cap space to entice a star to join them.
Didn't work out, as the Bulls failed to land any of the top free agents. But the front office regrouped in making solid signings to fill out their roster, leading with Carlos Boozer. Boozer is one of the biggest acquisitions in franchise history, and finally ends the drought of frontcourt scoring that has plagued them for years. Coming from Jerry Sloan's Jazz, he should be a great complement in the pick/roll game with Rose on offense, and also fits in well on defense alongside an athletic tall big like Noah.
With Boozer in the fold as the team's major piece, the Bulls worked to fill out their collection of wings, making solid signings in young veterans Kyle Korver, CJ Watson, and Ronnie Brewer. Each filling a role and two of them having played with Boozer in Utah, these weren't inherently exciting signings, but were smart moves to be made in the wake of missing out on the biggest fish of free agency.
The Bulls also made a major change in firing Vinny Del Negro and hiring long-time NBA assistant Tom Thibodeau, who had become one of the league's hottest coaching candidates after gaining notoriety as architect of the Celtics defense. While a first-time head coach like Del Negro, Thibodeau comes in with a much more accomplished resume.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
PBT: NBA Season Preview: Chicago Bulls
Last season: 41-41, same as it ever was with Vinny Del Negro
Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau, the defensive guru from the Boston Celtics gets his first head coaching gig. He's earned it, but this is not a soft landing sprt -- there are expectations.
Key Departures: Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller, Hakim Warrick
Key Additions: Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, CJ Watson, and the aforementioned Thibodeau. In any other summer they Bulls would have had the best haul in free agency. But this wasn't like any other summer.
Best case scenario: Title contender out of the East. Most people -- myself included -- have them on a second tier behind Miami and Boston, kind of there on the "good but not quite good enough" level. But we don't really know. If they can defend, if the chemistry really is there, this is a roster with a lot of potential.
For that to happen: Tom Thibodeu is going to have to work his defensive magic, and prove he can devise an offense that uses some interesting talents.
SBNation: 2010-11 Chicago Bulls Preview: Can The New-Look Bulls Challenge The Eastern Conference Elite?
The Chicago Bulls didn't get LeBron or Wade, but they did get a facelift this summer. Is it enough to challenge the elite of the elite in the Eastern Conference?
Over the past year and a half or so, the Chicago Bulls did something that many teams discuss, but few actually do. They decided their team that initially surrounded Derrick Rose was good, but not good enough to win a championship. So they began downsizing their roster, all in the hopes of creating enough cap space in 2010 to lure a superstar.
They let talented but enigmatic guard Ben Gordon go in free agency for nothing last summer, traded away John Salmons and Tyrus Thomas for cap space during the season and dumped Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick for nothing on draft day. Somehow, thanks to the brilliance of Rose and the emergence of Joakim Noah, the Bulls snuck into the playoffs, where they were promptly dismissed by the Cavaliers.
What was the payoff for all that dismantling? Despite being rumored as the early favorites for LeBron James, the Bulls didn't get him. They also didn't get Dwyane Wade, despite meeting with him twice. However, they did get one big name, reeling in Jazz all-star Carlos Boozer to provide the low-post scoring threat they've needed for years. They also got some decent role players on good contracts with the rest of their money, bringing in Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and CJ Watson, and the switch from the overmatched Vinny Del Negro to the highly-regarded Tom Thibodeau at head coach is a major upgrade.
They still can't approach the top teams on paper, even if Rose takes a major leap. But as SB Nation's Bulls blog Blog a Bull writes, they should bother a lot of clubs defensively.
NBA PlayBook: 2010-2011 Season Preview: Chicago Bulls
From now until the start of the NBA season later this month, we are going to be running our season previews. Each day, we are going to look at two teams and talk about one thing they did well last year and one thing that they did poorly last year. Then, we are going to talk about the chances of maintaining what they did well/changing what they did poorly. In this edition we will look at the Chicago Bulls.
One Thing They Did Well
Defend The Post
Last season, the Chicago Bulls were one of the best teams in the NBA when it came to defending the post. This was interesting because of who their big men are. Sure Joakim Noah is a strong post defender, but he tends to be undersized. They you have Taj Gibson and Brad Miller. So what the Bulls like to do is send double teams, and their timing of these doubles is why they succeeded.
The Bulls never came right on the catch, where a big man could kick the ball out. They always seemed to time their double when the big man seemed committed to making a move to the hoop, or where a kick out pass was impossible:
SLAMOnline: Bulls ‘10-11 Preview
Aside from the Miami Heat (of course), the Chicago Bulls had one of the most impressive summers of any NBA team in free agency this year. Without signing anyone with a superstar name, the Bulls still managed to address the two most glaring holes in their personnel that have plagued them for quite some time and should make them a squad to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference this year.
First they went out and took care of their long-standing need for a low-post scorer and true back-to-the-basket player by inking Carlos Boozer to a five-year contract. He wasn’t the team’s first option, but as a back-up plan, the Boozer signing was about as good as you can get. The guy is a guaranteed 20 point, 10 rebound per game player and also adds a level of physicality down low. The Bulls haven’t had someone with either of those characteristics on the roster since, ironically, another former Duke Blue Devil played in the Windy City 10 years ago in Elton Brand.
Of course getting amped about Boozer is moot at this point since he’s going to be out with a broken hand for the next eight weeks, but when he does appear in uniform, it’s going to be exciting to see him and Joakim Noah give opposing frontcourts fits.
The Works: The Works Season Previews: Chicago Bulls
BS: Luol Deng has been trade bait almost ever since he signed his contract. Has he been devalued past the point of no return? How did he have trade value if he's never really lived up to the expectations that came with his deal?
Luol DengTZ: This is another case of "Kobe Bryant ruins everything." Deng's trade value precedes the monster contract, going back to the Great Ric Bucher Crisis of 2007. Luol played the bizarre role of being the player the Lakers wanted most in a Kobe trade but also being the Bull Bryant most wanted to play with, to the point where No. 8 (never forget) said he'd veto any trade in which Lu went to L.A.
BDL's 2010-11 Season Previews: Chicago Bulls
Last year's record? 41-41, lost in the first round.
Significant departures? Kirk Hinrich(notes), Brad Miller(notes), Hakim Warrick(notes), Aaron Gray(notes)!
Significant arrivals? Carlos Boozer(notes), Kyle Korver(notes), C.J. Watson(notes), Ronnie Brewer(notes), Kurt Thomas(notes), Omer Asik(notes).
Projected record, as predicted three months ago in time to publish in Yahoo! Sports' NBA Preview Magazine? 49-33
Why I think that sounds about right?
Depth, and a roster that could be greater than the sum of its parts with the right style of coaching, could see this team elbowing its way toward 50 wins.
If the health is there (and we're beyond dealing with Carlos Boozer at this point and into discussing the work of Taj Gibson(notes) and Joakim Noah(notes)) a smartly run Bulls team with ever-increasing offensive options and a sticky defense that moves its feet could load up on wins against lesser opponents while holding its own against the big boys. Then, as April rolls around, 50 wins might not seem super-laughable.
Especially if Derrick Rose(notes) continues to improve, Luol Deng(notes) hits his stride as he enters his prime, Noah can give the team 70 games at 35 minutes per game, and Boozer shows up in early December as if nothing ever happened.
BBS: Chicago Bulls: 2010-11 Season Preview (Part 2)
STARTING LINEUP: DERRICK ROSE, *RONNIE BREWER, LUOL DENG, *CARLOS BOOZER, JOAKIM NOAH
- DERRICK ROSE
Where do I even begin with Derrick Rose? Prior to last season I compared D-Rose to CP3, and I'm not sure it was too far off. CP3's second season included a jump in both scoring and assists (from rookie stats of 16.1 and 7.8 to sophomore stats of 17.3 and 8.9), while Rose had a big jump in scoring and a tiny drop in assists (rookie stats 16.8 and 6.3, sophomore stats 20.8 and 6.0).
We all know CP3 is a slightly better passer, but I am going to attribute the change in Rose's numbers to what was asked of him in VDN's (lack of) offense. Last season, Rose was our best scoring option virtually every night, so his scoring was bound to make a big jump. But that all changes this year with the Bulls bringing in a new coach (presumably with an offensive plan) and the addition of Carlos Boozer. (Note: I'm painfully aware of Boozer's injury, more on that later.)
With Derrick Rose just turning 22 years old, and about to enter his 3rd NBA season, I'm not going to shy away from predicting big things for him. Maybe I'm overrating him, and maybe the comparisons are not fair, but here's another batch of D-Rose and CP3 (points and assists):
| || |
16.1 and 7.8
16.8 and 6.3
17.3 and 8.9
20.3 and 6.0
21.1 and 11.6
Year 3 is when CP3 made the jump and became an elite passer, and I was hoping for a similar-but-not-quite-as-big jump from D-Rose. Boozer being out for the first 15 games, and then taking time to adjust into the flow of the team, will surely hurt that. But I still expect an increase in D-Rose's numbers by the end of the season.
And now the fun stuff: D-Rose's improved J. DockSquad posted some great video that shows the slight change D-Rose made, basically everything (release and ball flight) is a bit higher:
And the normally quiet D-Rose even talked confidently about his newly-developed range:
Keep in mind that Derrick Rose is not the boastful type.
Now fear for NBA defenses.
"It's there; I have a consistent 3-point shot now," Rose said Wednesday night. "You'll see. I just have so much confidence in my jump shot now. It's coming along so good. It's past even my expectations at this point."
That new confidence is a big part of what will help Rose take a big step forward this season (despite no real improvement on the 3-ball in the preseason).
Prediction for 2010-11: 22p/3r/7a
Basically, more scoring and a slight increase in assists. Rose will be asked to take on more of the scoring to start the season (with Boozer out), and will continue to establish himself as a crunch-time scorer even when we have our full lineup healthy.
- RONNIE BREWER