Your Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Posted: October 31, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Basketball, NBA, Sports
Tags: , , , , ,

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

I try to be objective. As a Chicago fan I try hard to stay away from the bias that is seemingly inherent to area fans, whether we’re hating on LeBron, trashing Rodgers, or any other silliness we pull off as a collective. I think I do a fairly good job of being an objective observer of sports, and it’s a title that I both welcome and enjoy.

However.

There is one player that I cannot be objective about on any level. There is one guy in the entire sports landscape that I root for with a passion. One player, across 4 major sports teams in the area, completely compromises whatever journalistic integrity I attempt to maintain via this blog.

#1.

To me, Derrick Rose’s game is so Chicago, so south side, so perfect for this city that I desperately want him to succeed in the face of impossibly crazy odds. Midgets don’t win rings on their own. PG’s are rarely the best players on championship teams. His knee exploded. And in the face of that I want him to somehow, some way pull off what looks improbable and win a ring this year.

To me, Derrick Rose’s story is so important that it needs to be publicized. I’m not talking about Chicago Bulls PG Derrick Rose. Not even Memphis G Derrick Rose. I’m talking about the Simeon kid who got out. Ben Wilson’s spiritual brother escaping a brutal south side war zone that is now collapsing in the face of horrendous violence. He lived where too many have died, and he can stand as a beacon of hope for a community that desperately needs a light at the end of the tunnel.

Derrick Rose is a flawed player, but he is a player with a tremendous heart and a fearless attack that I absolutely love. And I can not, and will never be, objective about Derrick Rose.

Chicago Bulls, 2012-2013

Overall

Let’s get the obvious shit out-of-the-way: the Bulls are much worse than they were last year and that can be owed to a few things. Derrick Rose will likely be absent most of the year. The Bench Mob was completely gutted and replaced with variants of the former 80’s super group, European Badness. Boozer is older, Deng is coming off a nasty wrist injury, Kirk Hinrich was the prized free agent signing, I’m just saying it looks bad.

I don’t think this team collapses into the depths of the truly awful, however. Basketball Prospectus pegs the Bulls for 46 wins. I’ll take the over and say they can brush 50. Say what you will about Thib’s approach of trying to win every possession, the bottom line is that team will play hard every game and they will win games they shouldn’t because of it.

Offense

The offense will be ugly largely because they still utilize a basic flex offense and when that failed in the past they would kick it to Derrick and he would bail them out. Now the Bulls will not have that luxury and they will have to manufacture easy buckets in other ways. When Boozer was signed the assumption was that he would lessen the scoring load on Rose via an impressive array of post moves and inside scoring. Boozer has the moves but his pet of recent vintage is a fade-a-way jump shot from just outside of the key. It’s a move that other teams are willing to let him have because it isn’t a high percentage shot for him. Lu Deng is a fine defensive player but he’s still a limited offensive player with questionable handles. He has a good mid range game but the Bulls have that in spades.

You see, the Bulls are still a jump shooting team. They were when Derrick was drafted too, he just masked some of that with his explosive play. Hinrich is a jump shooter. Rip Hamilton has some slasher in him, but he’s primarily a jump shooter. Deng? Jumper. Boozer? Jumper. Noah? Not a jump shooter but he isn’t an “explode to the rim” type guy either.

If we go to the bench the only player that can attack the rim is Nate Robinson and he isn’t even that reliable as a rim attacker. He falls in love with the 3 pt. shot too often and can start chuckin’. Taj Gibson has some explosion at the rim but getting there is still an issue for him. Marco Belinelli is the stereotypical Euro player with nice touch from outside and limited game inside.

Look, the Bulls biggest problem over the years offensively has been manufacturing easy buckets and getting to the FT line. It’s still going to be a problem this year. When the jump shots fall, it’ll look great, and when they don’t, it won’t. This will be the most infuriating aspect of their game. Look for Jimmy Butler and if he develops any kind of offensive consistency. If he can he can be a valuable asset for the next version of the Bulls.

Defense

The Bulls defend pick and roll maybe better than anyone in the league. They can create turnovers with smart defensive positioning and are considered a top defense despite playing Boozer, a noted liability, big minutes. The Bulls have a shape in mind when they play defense and preserving that shape in the face of multiple screens and cuts is paramount to their defensive principles. They are very good at snapping back into form and contesting shots.

This is the primary reason I think the Bulls can win 45-50 games. Defensively they are still one of the best units in the league and some nights that will be enough to overcome some really ugly offense. Look for lineup changes in close games late. We’ve seen Thibs bench Boozer in favor of Taj Gibson. With Omer Asik gone I suggest we look at the minutes Nazr Mohammed and Taj Gibson log as the season progresses. With Omer gone and Deng coming back from a wrist injury the best defensive frontcourt the Bulls can employ early in the year might just be the Taj-Joakim-Nazr combo.

Bench

This unit has been greatly downgraded from last year. The sixth man might just be Jimmy Butler or Nate Robinson. Marco Belinelli replaces Korver, Nazr replaces Omer, and the Nate-Butler-Teague combo replaces Brewer. This group will be exposed in a big way should an injury occur. When you think about the recent injury histories of Rip-Deng-Boozer-Noah it’s easy to see one or more of the starters going down for an extended period and then watching the Bulls struggle to weather the storm. Thibs can be criticized for his strange sub patterns, and now the pressure will be on him to be even more creative with no clear cut “Sixth Man” on the team.

Look for Teague’s development early, Belinelli’s shooting streaks, and how well Nazr is playing defensively. Jimmy Butler is going to play a key role in all of this and his total game will have to improve.

Synopsis

I say they win 50 games and earn a 4-5 seed in the playoffs. I do think this team will be hard to watch in stretches as the offense struggles to find buckets but on the whole they will be a good team, albeit not a great one.

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