Chicago Bulls Season Preview
Having finished with a 41 – 41 record the past two seasons and making two straight playoff appearances, Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls are looking to make a big splash in the 2010-11 NBA season. The Bulls have been in the national sports media spotlight all summer long, starting with the offseason free agent movement of all-star caliber players such as Lebron James and Chris Bosh potentially signing contracts with Chicago, and ending with rumors of Carmelo Anthony being traded to the team. None of these scenarios ever became reality, but Bulls fans have more than enough reasons to believe that this is the best Bulls team since the Jordan era ended over a decade ago, and the team can finally become a major contender in the Eastern Conference.
Although fans drooled at the possibility of Derrick Rose playing alongside superstars like Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, the Bulls have picked up a solid post-up player in Carlos Boozer, an 8 year veteran who has made a name for himself posting a career 17.2 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game with 2 all star appearances. When Boozer returns in early December from an injury suffered before the preseason, the Bulls will have a very promising dynamic duo consisting of Boozer and Joakim Noah. Many believe that the two will take lots of pressure off of one another on both sides of the court. Noah, one of the best defensive big men in the game, is coming off the 2009-10 season averaging 10.7 points per game and 11 rebounds per game, and is looking to have another all-star caliber season. Noah also signed a five year, 60 million dollar contract extension before the preseason.
With the departures of big role players such as longtime Bull Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller and Ronald Murray, the Bulls had some spending money on free agents to come off the bench during the regular season. Alongside Carlos Boozer, big free agent acquisitions over the summer include 3 point specialist Kyle Korver, veteran center Kurt Thomas, defensive specialist Ronnie Brewer, promising center Omer Asik, C.J. Watson and shooting guard Keith Bogans, who is looking to start the season as the team's number one shooting guard on the depth chart. These players have all looked good so far in the preseason and are expected to be big contributors alongside players like Taj Gibson and James Johnson once the regular season gets under way.
The team also made a big move off of the basketball court. Vinny Del Negro is officially out as head coach, and the new man in charge is Tom Thibodeau, a former member of the Boston Celtics coaching staff who has made a big name for himself over the past few seasons building a championship-caliber defensive unit in Boston. Using a new scheme on the court, look for the Bulls to use their defensive strengths to their advantage, by finding easy, fast break points as well as using Derrick Rose's speed to get easy layups by catching opponents off-guard in transition. So far in the preseason, Thibodeau hasn't been scared to use different matchups on the court. On occasions, Thibodeau has used his "twin tower" lineup consisting of Noah in the power forward position and Omer Asik at center. Asik has proven so far to be a solid backup at center with great rebounding and defense skills. At other times, Thibodeau has used a smaller lineup by pairing C.J. Watson and Derrick Rose together, with Rose playing off the ball and becoming a scorer at the shooting guard position. Look for coach Thibodeau to use these different lineups to the Bulls' advantage throughout the season.
As the Bulls' number one draft choice of two years ago, Derrick Rose has blossomed into one of the most outstanding point guards in the NBA and has become the face of the franchise. Last year, Rose averaged a team high 20.8 points per game and became the first Bulls All-Star since Michael Jordan. After carrying the Bulls to two straight playoff appearances, Rose will have lots of help this year and the expectations have risen even higher for the third year point guard out of Memphis. Rose has spent much of the offseason developing his long range jump shot and has showed an improvement in his shooting range as the preseason has progressed. Having played in the 2010 FIBA World Championships with team USA (which won the gold medal), Rose has learned many leadership skills and expanded his game beyond what we have seen in his first two years. Expect Rose to have a breakout year this season.
With Lebron James taking his talents to South Beach and out of the Central Division, look for the Bulls to become the new heavy favorites to win the division and continue to prove themselves as major contenders in the Eastern Conference alongside the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and of course the Miami Heat. The Bulls are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, and under Thibodeau, they may become even more dangerous with their speed and ability to score easy transition baskets and get to the free throw line. This Bulls team will be fun to watch over the course of the season but they must avoid a slow start as in previous years. With Boozer having to miss the annual West Coast Circus Road trip because of injury, the Bulls must strive for coming back to the United Center with at least a .500 record and continue to play well in front of the home fans. Once the Bulls get back a healthy Carlos Boozer, and as long as no more freak injuries occur during the season, expect the Bulls to have a much better season with a possibility of making an Eastern Conference finals appearance.
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