Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls season preview

Projected starting lineup
G Kirk Hinrich
G Ben Gordon
F Luol Deng
F Tyrus Thomas
C Ben Wallace

Joakim Noah
Chris Duhon
Andres Nocioni
Thabo Sefolosha
Joe Smith

Last year
Expectations were high going into the 2006-2007 season. With the draft day pick-ups of Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha along with the big 4 year deal involving Ben Wallace, the Bulls were once again viewed as a contender to compete for the Eastern Conference championship. Just in case anyone had any doubts about this team, the Bulls pulled out a opening day 42 point win over the defending champions (on the night they got the rings) Miami Heat. During the course of the season, both Deng and Gordon took that next step towards NBA all-star level while Tyrus Thomas showed serious signs of his athletic ability as the season winded down. The only disappointment to the 49-33 season would be the affect of Ben Wallace, both on the court and in the locker room. With Detroit, and when I would argue that the NBA in whole was still in a half court style of play, Wallace fit in perfectly with the defensive style of game. But now that teams have quicken the pace, where the number of possessions in a game have jumped, and where weakness in one's offensive game can be exploited more easily, Wallace struggled filling the shoes of someone who deserves 15 million a year. I am not saying that Wallace is still not a star player, but I am saying that at 15 million a year he should be bringing more to the table. The Bulls finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference and went on to shock the Miami Heat with a 4 game sweep. I picked the Bulls to win that series, but not in that fashion. Of course the Pistons showed the Bulls what is was like to be on the losing side of that type of series when they went up 3-0 against the Bulls. But what bolds well for this still young team was the will and fight to get 2 in a row before losing in game 6. It's all about experience and in this season the Bulls got enough to make a legit march towards the Finals next season.

Lost P.J. Brown to free agency
Signed Joe Smith
Resigned Andres Nocioni
Drafted Joakim Noah
Drafted Aaron Gray
Drafted JamesOn Curry

The weakness for the Bulls comes at the PF position. With Wallace not providing any type of offensive power down low, they need someone else to provide that ability to be a post-up player. Joakim Noah will bring tons of energy and potential for the future, but in his rookie year, he is not the player a team would want to carry that type of responsibility deep in the playoffs. Joe Smith played nice for the 76ers after he was traded from Denver but it's not hard to stick out when your on a crappy team. Andres Nocioni is a solid player and great shooter to have as a 6th man. P.J. Brown is a solid vet but I don't think he will be missed.

Expecations are high for this year's Bulls team. But do the have a solution for the one weakness everyone knows about. Can they get scoring down low? Without it, the pressure on Hinrich/Deng/Gordon will be intense to continue to score. The Bulls have just as much depth as any other team in the league, but the scoring will have to continue to come from the perimeter. Tyrus Thomas showed signs of being that guy down low. But again, experience is everything. How well would Tyrus Thomas do against the Spurs and Tim Duncan in the finals? Experience is everything. This upcoming season might also be the calm before the storm as both Luol Deng and Ben Gordon are set to make a lot more money after this season. The Bulls are in good shape salary cap wise, but it would leave a nice hole if another team can come in a steal one of these two players. This team is going to need a strong season in order to keep this core unit together, anything less then conference finals will be disappointing for this team, because if 2007-2008 does not go well, it would be very easy (and tempting) to make some changes to the team. One change that has already happened for this upcoming season is that Big Ben Wallace can once again wear his headband. Now can he hit a free throw?

What to watch for
1) Tyrus Thomas - His evolution will play a significant role in the success of the Bulls.
2) Pay day - Deng and Gordon are in contract years. We have seen other players in the past step up during these special years. If Deng and Gordon step it up, it will cost the Bulls money later but it will also mean a great season.
3) Taking the next step - Last year they were just a notch below the top teams (Suns/Mavs/Spurs/Pistons) can they join that group this year?

Even though the main weakness has yet to be filled (low post scorer) the Bulls have both talent and depth as well has having a great defensive team. The East is stronger, but it is still not the West, and I can see Chicago using the experience of last season being one of the top teams, and stepping into the NBA elite. Championship? Not quite. Top team is the East? Yes.

Between 58-62 wins this season with a 1st place finish in the East.


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breatnyS said...

Good defense by the Chicago Bulls drama boys, if only we could patch up the difference, this will be a Chicago good season. They are running, switching in defense, rebounding see those efforts. We don't have yet the Bulls team down.

I which I could see some Bulls games live. I was looking for tickets all the good seats on ticketmaster were taken I had to check broker. And man you don’t want to do that especially for the Chicago Bulls. Thanks god there sites like Ticketwood which work as comparators here is the site
Bulls Tickets

I like slam dunks that take me to the hoop my favorite play is the ally-hoop,
I like the pic n roll,i like the given goal its basketball yo, yo lets go!
Go Bulls Go!!!