As the NBA season quickly approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focus on the Chicago Bulls, who last year had a record of 45-37 and did make the playoffs.
Team: Chicago Bulls
Coach: Tom Thibodeau
General Manager: Gar Forman
2012-2013 Record: 45-37
Place in Conference: 5th
Leading Scorer: Luol Deng (16.5 PPG)
Key Additions: Tony Snell, D.J. White
Key Losses: Marco Belinelli, Daequan Cook, Richard Hamilton, Nate Robinson
The make of the Chicago Bulls did not change much, but the much-anticipated return of Derrick Rose has the average NBA fan’s prediction for where the Bulls will finish in the conference in murky waters. With so many question marks surrounding how D-Rose will treat defenders when attacking the rim, something he was known mercifully for before he went down in the first game of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. This team will still be able to run with the best in the league because of an always-trustworthy frontcourt combo of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, but I think this season is most important for Luol Deng. Keep him on radar this season, Cavalier fans, as his 2014 free agency tag may be enticing for the Wine and Gold, who are still looking for a formidable three. Deng’s time in Chicago has been fun, but I don’t think he stays on this train for much longer.
Chicago lacked the offensive punch to string together a postseason run at glory, and that’s what limited them from reaching their potential last season. Ranking dead last in the NBA—along with the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers—the Bulls will be getting the bulk of their offense back when Rose returns to true form. I predict this to be sometime after December, as I think that Derrick won’t take too long to become the MVP-caliber player he was before he went down. The Bulls relied HEAVILY on defense throughout the season, as you could tell from the many conference matches the Cavaliers had with Chicago last season. Because Chicago lacked the continual punch they needed all season on offense, the stingy Thibodeau-led Bulls ranked third in points per game sacrificed (92.9). As long as Boozer and Noah stay healthy, I’m not too concerned about Chicago’s defense. From three, the team ranked fifth in the league in opponent’s three-point percentage (34.6 percent).
What I think will be a weakness for the Bulls this season is something that I just previously mentioned. Perimeter defense, with Rose returning, may lack the sting that Robinson and a plethora of others provided throughout the 2012-13 campaign. Rose will be too concerned with priming his offensive game to focus on an already-lacking perimeter defense game. Players like Kyrie Irving will have field days early on against the Bulls, but Thibodeau has shown season in and season out that if there is one thing that he is good at is fixing problems the best he can when he sees them in an attempt to become a grindier team. I know that’s an ugly word, but Thibodeau would love to coach for a team like Memphis. The players fit his philosophy quite well, and that’s a main reason why the Bulls have been a top-10 success on defense throughout the years. This year, Snell needs to step up and be this player off the bench for the Bulls if they want to plug this hole.
2013-2014 Season Predictions
In a weird season in the East where I cannot seem to come to a decision between the Brooklyn Nets and the Bulls, I’m going to say that the Bulls will finish behind the top tier in the East once again. Indiana will continually rise, while Miami will retain its crown at the top. Brooklyn will see early-season success, but I think a lot of teams will start running the old guys off the court more toward the end of the season. I still don’t think the Bulls are good enough to overcome the Nets two years in a row, however. D-Rose will lead the charge for this team, but they’ll only finish one spot higher than last season and will end in the same spot that they were last season. This team will see a big makeover these next few years, and this will be the season that starts that makeover.