With the end of their presumably grueling nine game in 15 day road trip, the Bulls have reached a good juncture for analysis. Through 30 games, it’s hard to imagine a rosier picture in the metrics. Looking at points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, the Bulls are second in Defensive Rating (96.9), and third in Offensive Rating (107.9). The team’s point differential suggest that at 23-7, the Bulls are actually underachieving. Their point differential is consistent with a 25-5 record. Differential is often a good predictor of future performance (though point differential doesn’t know about Derrick Rose’s back issues), and if that plays out the Bulls will finish 53-13, which translates into 66-16 in an 82 game schedule.
That might explain why the Bulls aren’t chomping at the bit to bring Dwight Howard to town. While battling through a series of injuries to their starters, they are on pace for a historically good season.
What’s more remarkable about the Bulls so far is that Rose has missed nearly a quarter of their games with toe and back issues, and the team’s other all star, Luol Deng, missed seven with a wrist injury. Let’s put this in perspective: after winning 62 games last season, the Bulls, through 30 games are on pace to improve on that record, despite significant time lost due to injuries of their two best players. Throw in the fact that Richard Hamilton, the notional starting two guard has played in only 11 of the team’s 30 games and you have a potential juggernaut in the making.
As long as Rose’s back issues aren’t serious, Bulls fans should be giddy. This isn’t just the best team since title era, it’s the best team since the best teams of the title era (the 72-10 beast in ’95-’96 and the 69-13 monster in ’96-’97). Questions will remain until they prove that they can beat Miami in a seven game series, but for the time being Bulls fans should admire what’s on the floor right now. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Martin Johnson wrote a weekly NBA column for the New York Sun from 2003-’08, and for http://www.theroot.com from 2008-’10. His sportswriting has also appeared in the NY Times, Wall St. Journal and the Atlantic Monthly.