Chicago Bulls Season Preview

10 10 2008

My NBA Central Division preview continues with the Chicago Bulls:

Chicago Bulls 

2007-08 Standings 33 – 49, 11th Eastern Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 40 – 42, 3rd Central Division, 8th Eastern Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Joachim Noah, Drew Gooden, Luol Deng, Larry Hughes, Kirk Hinrich

Sixth Man:  Derrick Rose

The Bulls are hoping that overall number 1 pick Derrick Rose can lead them back to glory.

The Bulls are hoping that overall number 1 pick Derrick Rose can lead them back to glory.

The Chicago Bulls were supposed to be title contenders in 2007/08. They seemingly had a championship calibre defence coupled with a whole bunch of young athletic scorers. The only thing they lacked was a post presence. Yet almost from the word go there was tension in Bulls land as key players (Ben Gordon and Luol Deng) failed to get contract extensions and the Bulls slumped to a 33 win record and 11th place in the Eastern Conference. Ouch.

Then the Chicago Bulls did the remarkable thing and won the lottery. Instead of selecting Michael Beasly, a player who projects as a superstar and solution to their low post woes, the Bulls selected Derrick Rose, a local player who will probably be a superstar as well. It would have been a good pick for most teams only the Bulls are loaded in the backcourt. Rose will have to battle for playing time with Kirk Hinrich, Gordon, Larry Hughes and Thabo Sefolosha.

Something has to give. Gordon is still around having signed a one year qualifying offer yet he’ll hardly be an ideal team mate and instead will look to gun for points to score a lucrative contract elsewhere. It might be best if the Bulls shipped him out. Hinrich might also be on the way out. He plays the same position as Rose and ultimately that makes him expendable. Hughes contract is probably too big to move.

The Bulls are relatively loaded at the small forward slot with Luol Deng and Argentinean Andres Nocioni there. Both are perimeter players however and that simply adds to the Bulls woes, they really need a post player.

Upfront the burden falls on second year centre Joachim Noah and Drew Gooden. Neither inspire as the answers to the Bulls problems. Gooden has bounced around various teams while Noah, for all his undoubted passion, needs to develop his game.

Probably the best thing the Bulls can do (other than shipping Gordon out) is play a small ball kind of game. They’ll get killed up front but hopefully they can run other teams out of the building.

Coach:

Vinny Del Negro is the first year coach of the Bulls replacing Scott Skiles. Not much is known of his coaching style, or indeed what kind of game they’re going to play, but he seems to have done the right thing in getting the experienced Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff to join him.

Bench:

Derrick Rose will probably start the season on the bench and at some point graduate to the starting lineup. The Bulls are relatively deep if only in the backcourt and on the perimeter. It would perhaps be in their best interests to ship one or more of their backcourt players for another forward or centre.

Star Player:

Luol Deng is arguably the face of the franchise having recently signed a big contract extension. However sooner rather than later the team will belong to Derrick Rose.

Team MVP:

Joachim Noah projects as the most important player on this team. If he can develop an inside postup game then the Bulls begin to look dangerous. With their relative weakness up front the Bulls absolutely need him to come on.

Final Prognosis:

The Bulls will be better this year and should make a return to the playoffs. However if they don’t deal with Gordon and their overstocked backcourt it’ll be a short visit.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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