Figuring Out the Chicago Bulls

Because of its unexpectedness and extreme success, last season’s thrilling run by the Chicago Bulls may have been more fun to their fanbase than some of the championship seasons of the ’90s.

At the start of the season, Bulls fans probably hoped the team would inch into the first tier of Eastern Conference playoff teams.  By midseason, they had accomplished that.  Then the team kept rising, passing Boston and Miami for the best record in the conference then passing San Antonio for the best record in the league.  Even though the season ended three wins short of the Finals, it still played out like a fever dream.

But what now?  When a team improves from 41 to 62 wins, it’s only natural to expect some regression, but the Bulls may resist that gravity.  Reserve sharpshooter Kyle Korver is the only player near the decline phase of his career.  Their best player, Derrick Rose is in fact likely to improve (though since he won the MVP last year, it’s hard to say how much room is left for dramatic improvement).  The Bulls won 62 games last season despite losing two starters, forward Carlos Boozer and center Joakim Noah, for substantial periods of time.  Both figure to be contribute more to the team this season.  It’s Boozer’s second year working in Bulls offense; at times last season he struggled to find his groove.  Although Noah is one of the NBA’s best defensive centers, the Bulls offense is much more effective when he’s in the lineup.  The Bulls have added Rip Hamilton to their rotation and while he isn’t as effective as he was in his prime, he will be a substantial improvement over his predecessor, Keith Bogans.

The Bulls are a deep team; their second unit is one of the best defensive fivesomes in the NBA, even better than the Bulls starters. With the likely ragged offense that will result from this season’s 66 games in four months sprint, the Bulls figure to be in most contests.

The big negative from last season is that in the playoffs Miami illustrated how to beat the Bulls.  Smother Rose and guard the obvious passing lanes.  The good news for Bulls fans is that few teams will be able to execute that game plan in the regular season.  But come playoffs the Bulls may fall a few wins short of a Grant Park celebration again.  I think they’ll move forward, maybe 50-16 (barring key injuries of course) and after last season’s run, nothing will shock me.  But a title this season would feel like a surprise.

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About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at thejoyofcheese.blogspot.com. In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and www.theroot.com. I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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3 Responses to Figuring Out the Chicago Bulls

  1. Jacely Beans says:

    Bulls!

  2. I think your pretty spot on in your season predictions. But because I am a Bulls fan, I think I would have to say that the Bulls can beat the Heat in a seven game series. Only as a Bulls fan talking, I think that the addition on Hamilton is very underrated. Yes, he is a little past his prime, but judging from his one preseason game (which isn’t much admittedly) he is capable of running the floor with rose in transition and being able to spread the floor more effectively that Bogans. And I’m sure defenses will pay more attention to Hamilton than they did Bogans, Great article though, it’s a good read.

    • jmartin437 says:

      Thanks to both of you. I’m really just beginning to reinvigorate this blog (again!), and won’t actively market the copy for a few days, so it’s very encouraging to see response so soon. @Ben, the single biggest reason that qualifies my enthusiasm about Hamilton is his track record on poor health. After being a very reliable player in his prime, he has missed 10, 15, 36 and 27 games in the last four seasons. In this 66 game/four month sprint, it probably means Bulls fans can expect several weeks of Ronnie Brewer in the starting lineup and some D League refugee in the second unit. Now, if coach Thibodeau wants to be creative and play Taj Gibson at the 3 and move Luol Deng to the 2 that might work better, but still Hamilton’s health will require some creativity.
      As far as how they’ll far against Miami, last season Spoelstra mopped the floor with Thibodeau and I don’t know how the Chicago coach will respond. With Miami’s Big 3, Spoelstra will never get the credit he deserves but he’s at or near the top of the list of the new generation of great NBA coaches Thibs is there too as are Scott Brooks, Monty Williams and Lionel Hollins). In ’09-’10, Spoelstra got a lineup that was essentially Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem and three guys from the Dade County YMCA to play as one of the elite defenses in the Association (sixth in points allowed per 100 possessions).
      If Thibodeau can come up with offensive variations half as potent as the defenses that he and Ron Adams devise, then a Grant Park celebration is on the horizon. But not until then.

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