Monday, January 31, 2011

AudiBull (Episode 9) Links / iTunes

Well, it had been about 1 month since we last recorded AudiBULL ... so Kmart and I figured the best option was to come in completely unprepared. We got back into the swing of things by recapping the Bulls' season thus far, and if you couldn't guess ... we had mostly good things to say.

We'll get back into the weekly swing next week, but for now, enjoy the season recap!

Listen to Episode 9 here:

or download from iTunes

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Click-a-Bull (Rose Top 5 Dunks; Melo Trade; Rose MVP)

Video: Bulls' Rose lists his Top 5 dunks

Chicago's Best Attempt At Trading For Carmelo Anthony (Without Using Joakim Noah)

For the purposes of this argument, disregard for a moment whether you think the Bulls trading for Carmelo Anthony is a good idea. Pretend that it unanimously, unequivocally, and officially, is. The oft-debated virtues of the Bulls trading either Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, or both, in exchange for Carmelo, have been sufficiently debated elsewhere to not warrant further commentary here. For argument's sake, let's say it's a yes.

Pretend this didn't happen.

Pretend also that Carmelo Anthony has absolutely no qualms about coming to Chicago, signing a long term extension, and winning 26 titles. Pretend that despite his obvious and well documented desires to play in New York, he is willing to forego that, and instead immerse himself fully into Chicago's basketball world domination alongside Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Nia the LuvaBull. Pretend that he is eating his own face with excitement at the prospect.

Pretend also that it is neither feasible, desired or logical for the Bulls to based any trade package around Joakim Noah. With that decision seemingly already made by the team, it's not a huge concession to make here.

It is necessary, therefore, for the Bulls to make a deal based around Luol Deng.

Award Watch: 2010-2011 NBA MVP

As always, when deciding on these MVP rankings, we factor in individual player production (via both standard stats and advanced metrics) as well as team performance/success...

Front Runners:

1. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls (24.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 8.0 apg):
It has been an eventful few days for the Windy City's favorite point guard. First, Rose was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, after averaging 27.3 points (tied for fifth in the Conference) 6.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds and guiding Chicago to three victories. D Rose also recorded his first career triple-double (22 points, 12 assists, and 10 boards) in a win over the Grizzlies on Monday. As we have noted in this space all year long, he is having a legitimate breakout season. Despite the Bulls missing two key cogs for extended stretches this season (both Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah have been sidelined due to injuries), Rose has been the supremely steady hand, powering Chicago's offense on a nightly basis. And while most of Rose's MVP buzz is generated from his incredible offensive production, his improvement on defense has been spectacular as well. Rob Mahoney, on The New York Times NBA blog, does an excellent job of examining this theme in detail:
More outstanding yet are Rose's individual defensive numbers. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Rose has allowed just 0.77 points per possession overall on defense this season, an elite mark for any defender, regardless of position. Chris Paul (0.86 points per possession allowed), Rajon Rondo (0.83 PPP allowed), and Russell Westbrook (0.92 PPP allowed) –- all excellent defenders -– have been trumped statistically this year, and by no slim margin. Rose has each of those players handily beat, and boasts a shockingly comprehensive defensive profile.

This pre-season SLAM cover looks even better now:

Charles Barkley: Derrick Rose is MVP

Charles Barkley has been a staunch believer that Utah Jazz veteran Deron Williams is the best point guard in the NBA, but Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose has changed his mind.

In fact, Barkley took the praise of Rose even farther.

"I think Derrick has surpassed Deron Williams as the best point guard in the NBA, and I think right now he has to be the front-runner for MVP," Barkley said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "He's been fantastic, and I think when you look at the Eastern Conference, and I've said it all along, the Chicago Bulls to me are the most dangerous team if they get everybody healthy."

Barkley has been especially impressed with Rose considering he's played much of the season with either center Joakim Noah or forward Carlos Boozer injured on the sideline.

The Bulls entered Tuesday with a 31-14 record, good for third in the East.

Friday, January 21, 2011

All of chicago will be watching; Bears-Packers Part 3

Well, once again not even the most optomistic of bears' fans could have predicted what will happen this sunday. First the bears will be playing for the chance to play in the superbowl. (Its surreal to even type that). And the bears will be playing the packers in this game. Nothing could make advancing to the superbowl sweeter for either franchise then doing over their bitterest rival. This game will be special and here is how the bears can advance.

Key Matchups:
Olin Kruetz v. Cullen Jenkins - No matter what anyone says Cullen Jenkins is the packers best defensive lineman. Sorry, BJ Rajii. Jenkins can be disruptive and can penetrate and give the packers an inside push that can terrorize an offense. It will be Olin's job to most of the time to double on Jenkins and sometimes block him one on one. If the packers and jenkins can get that inside push then it will force Cutler deeper in the pocket and make him an easy target for the rushing OLBs.
Bryan Bulaga v. Julius Peppers - The last time these teams met Peppers forced Bulaga to false start 3 times. Those penalties can be huge and realistically Bulaga shouldnt be able to handle Peppers which can only create problems for the offense. Peppers needs to dominate Bulaga as he did in the regular season finale.
Innovation v. Execution - These teams know each other. They know the systems they run and are pretty much prepared for everything that might come their way. Now, i think the teams might try some different looks or plays but they need to not let it get out of hand. The game will be decided by which team executes the best. Lets hope that is the bears.

Key's for the Bears:
1. Win the turnover battle. This game will be tight. The bears have to force and win the turnover battle. The bears actually were a -1 against the seahawks and a repeat of that will probably see the bears lose. The defense has to create turnovers against the packers.
2. Run Matt Forte. If the Bears run 45% of their plays they win. In fact this year, they are10-0 in any game that they have run 45% of time and 2-5 in any game that they run under that. Plus add in the fact that Culter has thrown 3 ints against the packers when they have 5+ DBs on the field. Martz must run the ball even if its not as effective as he wants it to be.
3. Quick Start, Milk the clock. I have complete confidence in the bears defense! With that said, you would have to be stupid to not want to minimize the chances Rodgers gets. If the bears can put points on the board early and get some time consuming drives, it will keep Rodgers off the field and that can only be a good thing.

Hero of the Day:
Robbie Gould.
I expect great things from Cutler and Forte but the simple fact is the packers dont give up TDs. So the right leg of Robbie will have to accurate in what may be terrible conditions for kicking. I think on his golden right leg the bears come away with this game.

Bears 23, Packers 20.
It is going to be a back and forth, knock down, drag out game that will be a pleasure to watch. These defenses are great and Culter and Rodgers will give us a preview of how great they will be for the next 5 years. Robbie Gould and a fg in the 4th quarter win it. Go BEARS!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Click-a-Bull (Rose MVP; 4th Quarter; Melo/Bulls)

BBS Click-a-BULL made a comeback yesterday with a bunch of links: Click-a-Bull (Noah's O; Rose's D; Bulls' Units; Rose Elite) and here are even more:

D-Rose for MVP?

Back on Media Day at the end of September, Derrick Rose came out before the start of his third NBA season and said he had every intention of winning an MVP trophy, and maybe even this season.

Publicly, we media lauded his gumption and saw the psychology of a quiet, reserved rising star coming out and saying something so bold as a statement of confidence in himself and his team, but privately none of us really thought he had a chance. Not with Kevin Durant and LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki still in the league. Heck, most of us didn't even consider him among the top three point guards in the league until recently, let alone the Most Valuable Player of the entire league.

But quietly, pundits have started wondering whether or not it could actually happen. Could Rose actually have a shot at winning the MVP? Miami Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra thinks so.

"He's playing at an MVP level. He simply is," Spoelstra said before Saturday night's 99-96 loss to the Chicago Bulls. "He's making such an impact. He's getting into the paint, and he really is an improved shooter from three, so it's hard to keep him from getting to the rim, getting to the free-throw line, and making plays for all the other guys. This is the best basketball I've seen him play."

How do contending teams perform in the fourth quarter?

Always Be Closing.

That’s the name of the game, isn’t it? Great teams close out strong. They finish well together. They’re able to end games with finality. It’s that ability to lock down in the fourth quarter and finish teams off that separates the men from the boys. Young, weak teams can’t get it done, and teams that want to contend for a title have to be able to.

But how does this year’s crop of contenders compare in that fourth segment?

Using stats from, I took a look at eight teams that could be considered “contenders” should you carry it out to a fairly liberal degree. And yes, Utah, I hear you, but I needed to make a cutoff somewhere and OKC happened to have more wins when I started this post. For reference, here are Utah’s stats.

Here’s what I found:

Report: Melo Carousel twirls again towards Bulls

Make. It. Stop.

Okay, now that our obligatory request to end the Carmelo Anthony debacle that even has us weary is through, we can move on. Yahoo! Sports today weaves the tangled web of a swing back towards Chicago in the Anthony talks. Yes, again.

Nevertheless, William Wesley – Worldwide Wes – is expected to travel to Chicago for Bulls games on Thursday and Saturday against the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers, a source said. Wesley unsuccessfully pushed LeBron Jamesnotes to sign with the Bulls as a free agent, and now has an interest in Anthony ending up there. Wesley represents Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for CAA.

via Anthony's agents courting Bulls - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Click-a-Bull (Noah's O; Rose's D; Bulls' Units; Rose Elite)

Been a busy couple weeks as I got situated at a new job. But should get back to blogging (or at least posting links) more frequently. Plus, Kmart and I plan to start recording AudiBULL again very soon (Kmart was on vacation and the Bears are in the playoffs, so our schedules have been screwed up). As always, here are the links:

The Bulls miss Noah most on … offense?

Bulls center Joakim Noah is regarded (derisively in some circles) as a “hustle player” who provides “energy” and “intangibles.” This is fan-speak for saying that a player has limited skills, especially on offense, but makes up for it by trying really hard. If Noah has any obvious skills, most folks would tell you they come at the defensive end, where he skitters around, blocks shots and grabs rebounds.

And yet, in Noah’s 14-game absence to recover from hand surgery, the Bulls’ offense has struggled while their defense has remained stout. Using’s points per possession metric (which differs slightly from the one I usually use — on Basketball-Reference), we see Chicago has scored slightly more than 103 points per 100 possessions this season. That’s just about league average.

Since Noah was sidelined, Chicago has hit that mark just six times in 14 games despite an incredibly easy schedule, and it’s come in at 102 points per 100 possessions or worse — the equivalent of a bottom-10 offense — in seven of those 14 games. Toss out one huge outlier — a 121-76 destruction of the Sixers last month — and the Bulls’ offensive numbers without Noah look even worse. Their defense, meanwhile, has shot to the top of the league in points allowed per 100 possessions.

Rose Dwarfs Other Improvements With Defense

Derrick Rose’s ongoing most valuable player campaign is often unfairly boiled down to his superior shooting this season, but Rose’s increased range is far from his most compelling improvement.

To build the case for Rose as the league’s most valuable, begin with his prolific scoring and, yes, his newly minted three-point range. Rose has boosted his production without any cost to his efficiency, and that certainly deserves note. Then point to Rose’s career-high assist numbers (which are strong per game, per minute, and per possession) and his improved rebounding as signs of progress for his overall game. He may be a scorer first and foremost, but Rose’s feel for facilitating his team’s offense has improved immensely over his first two-and-a-half seasons in the league. He isn’t merely a drive-and-kick point guard; Rose scores at an elite level, can penetrate the lane at will, and has legitimate playmaking ability on top of it all. He may lack the pure passing splendor of some of his point guard contemporaries, but Rose nonetheless sets up his teammates for quality looks in increasingly diverse fashion.

All of that makes for a pretty impressive résumé, but neglects the most drastic improvement in Rose’s game this season; whether due to natural evolution, Tom Thibodeau’s tutelage, or his time with the defense-first Team U.S.A., Rose has learned to use his incredible physical gifts more effectively on the defensive end, and has become into one of the league’s most surprisingly effective perimeter defenders.

Rose’s quickness and length (he measured at a 6-8 wingspan in the 2008 Draft Combine) stood out as attributes that could serve him well on defense, but his awareness, effort, and understanding of what constitutes the “right” defensive play seemed to be lacking during his first two seasons. Those aren’t faults of Rose alone, but they were certainly held against his individual standing as a player -– and rightfully so.

Bulls Units Statistically (Click to view charts)

Rose standing tall among NBA elite

Reach out to him, Chicago management had pleaded with Derrick Rose(notes). LeBron doesn’t think you want him here. That’s what they told the Bulls’ franchise star in July, a request that was met with dutiful respect from Rose. Sure, he told the Bulls. I’ll shoot him a text. Rose is polite this way, honoring obligations and orders from above.

Nevertheless, it would change nothing. To LeBron James(notes), the message was unmistakable, sources said: I can take you or leave you – and that could never sell the needy King. William Wesley never did get his wish of LBJ chasing Michael Jordan’s ghosts in Chicago. Dwyane Wade(notes) recruited James relentlessly to Miami, and ultimately had to hand the Heat over to the Royal Pain.

Rose didn’t want LeBron taking the ball out of his hands, nor respect out of the room. Eventually, Rose reached out, but only out of a sense of duty. Rose didn’t want James, nor did Rose particularly want Wade to make a Chicago homecoming. During early July, Rose shut himself in the gym and worked on his game. The soap opera bored him.

“If they wanted to come here, they would’ve come here,” Rose told Yahoo! Sports Saturday night.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Buckle up, Bears Fans, Here comes the Playoffs

Well, this is what you play the regular season for, right? The chance to get in the playoffs and make it all the way. In the seahawks, the worse playoff team ever, the bears couldnt have gotten an easier opponent in the playoffs. But it is the playoffs and anything can happen as evidenced by the seahawks beating the saint last weekend.

Key Matchups:
1. Russell Okung v. Julius Peppers. So, I'm sure all of you have heard that Julius Peppers probably had his worse game as a bear against Seattle. 1 tackle and he really didnt create any havoc. Well, to steal a line from Stacey King, "Big time players make big time plays!". And that what Pep is paid to be, a big time player. He has been very good this year but in the playoffs he has to step it up another level. I dont need huge sack totals from him but the bears need him to play so well that the whole offensive line is constantly worried about him and it put everyone else in 1 on 1. He has to dominate the rookie LT Okung. HAS TO!
2. Jay Culter v. Earl Thomas. Another rookie for seattle that doesn't play like it is. Thomas is an aggressive safety and a big hitter. Those quality are great but the saints showed that he is susceptible to double moves or to the pump and go. Either way Cutler has to be aware that Thomas will be trying to gamble on a int and Jay needs to take advantage of it.
3. They are going to kick to Devin!!!! I can't believe anyone would actually kick to hester but the guy has 14 return tds. Pete Carroll said he was going to kick it to Devin and live with the consequences. I dont know if that is just a smoke screen or it will actually happen. But if they do kick to Devin, it makes punts the most exciting plays and potentially momentum changers of the game.

Bears' Keys:
1. Hit Mike Williams. It made me sick to see Williams get 10 catches against the Bears earlier in the season. I know he is a big WR but the bears need to punish him for going across the middle and making catches. He isnt a deep threat and he is pretty much gonna make his living across the middle and on short routes. With how much zone the bears play, the safeties and LBs should have shots on him and make him regret catching the ball.
2. No crazy Mike Martz. Did anyone else's blood turn cold this week when Cutler said the bears may throw the 60 times? Look the bears need to run this ball atleast 20-25 times and just pound the small seattle defense. This is not a good defense and the bears can wear it down and win the time of possession battle if they run the ball. Plus, as i have been saying all year, Matt Forte is your best offensive weapon. He needs to get the ball more.
3. Play well in cold weather. This bears team hasnt been good in cold weather. The conditions on sunday should be perfect for this team. It will be cold but no snow. This is a team that is built for speed on both sides of the ball and they need to learn how to use it in the cold.

Hero of the Day:
Greg Olsen. He hasnt been making many catches but i have a feeling Martz has something up his sleeve to use Olsen. I see at least a TD from Olsen and maybe 2 with a couple of deep routes.

Bears 27, Seahawks 23
Of course I'm taking the bears but i really did mean buckle up bears fans because i dont think this one is decided till the end of the 4th quarter. In the end, the bears are the better team and that hopefully comes through but it wont be easy. But, this sets up a dream matchup of the Packers v. Bears in chicago next week. BEAR DOWN!