Bulls 2013-2014 season is about the start and I am extremely excited. I am excited because this is finally, “The Return” (#TheReturn). Finally. I was disappointed like most Bulls fans last year that Derrick Rose did not play. I also understood that that team last year did not have the horses to beat Miami. But, I have to ask Bulls fans: What has changed? The answer: Derrick Rose. That is it. I would like to think that this year will be better but, that remains to be seen. I am going to break this season down with a couple of categories, thoughts, and predictions. Enjoy. (I wrote this before last night’s loss to the Heat)
Mike Dunleavy Jr. – The Bulls love picking up fairly un-athletic white guys that can shoot. (ie: Korver, Radmanovic, White Mamba) Dunleavy will be able to stretch the floor for the second group and I think will be able to actually defend a little better than Korver. The reason the Bulls signed him is because is serviceable and was cheap. He will be a nice play, but if you think he is the missing piece, he is not. (Prediction: 7 ppg 4 Rebs in about 18-25 min)
Tony Snell – Rookie / New Mexico. I am excited about this guy. Being a teacher, you have a little free time and you get the unintended privilege of watching a lot of summer league basketball in the middle of the day. I wrote a column this summer (look below) about this but since, I’ve seen some highlights from college and watched him this preseason games. This is what I noticed. He is long so defensively deflects a lot of passes and can stay in front his position which is the first thing you have to do to play for Thibs. (I know I know, not Boozer) Offensively he is a good shooter, but streaky. If you look at his games in college, he would go 7-12 from three one game and 1-10 the next. Thibs has not played rookies early in their careers (J Butler, M Teague) but they might have to play this one because of his ability to spread the floor. (Prediction: (6 ppg 2 Rebs 1 Steal in about 12-20 min)
Erik Murphy – Rookie / Florida. I think will see limited time this season. One Thibs is not in a rush to play rookies and also does not use a deep bench. (I didn’t even put up a picture of him, instead this gem of who he will be replacing) Unless there is injury, I see Eric Murphy filling Vladimir Radmanovic role this year. Except less chest hair and more deodorant. (Prediction: No impact)
Bench scoring – I think that the Bulls and coach Thibodeau will be fine on defense with this bench, they always are. But, they will really miss some guys that can come off the bench to score. They are sort of missing a gunner. I would have loved for them to get Jarrett Jack (Rod Tidwell) but the money didn’t work. Last year they had Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson who came off the bench to provide that spark. (With two crumbling players, Rip Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich, they eventually became the starters) This year the plan is going to rely heavily on Jimmy Butler, Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Snell and Dunleavy. I am struggling to get excited for that.
Joakim Noah’s health – I think that it is fair to worry about this. I know he has played when he has needed to and has played well. But, I really think that trading him might be in the best interest of the Bulls. This foot issue is alarming, ongoing, and stinks (heheh, giggle giggle). I am sorry for suggesting that but if it means a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, they should strongly consider it. That draft is loaded.
Tom Thibodeau’s coaching– I think that Thibs is a great coach. I think that he has been the best regular season coach in the NBA over the past 3 seasons. But, the Bulls have run out of steam and have limped their way through every playoff run. (Yes, I am using a lot of puns) He is going to have to take a page out of Greg Popovich handbook with some of these guys who have had injury issues and sit them from time to time. (Noah, Deng, Rose, Hinrich)
Carlos Boozer – I could write an entire book on all of the ways he frustrates me. I am going to go into this season knowing that he has limitations and maybe that will frustrate me less. (I doubt that) I know that with him on the court they struggle to defend. I know he also has limited them from getting any substantial free agents these last 2 seasons. Here are the things that drive me crazy about him, and when they happen just think, “He has never done well at these things and he never will” and breathe. I’m going to try it but I apologize in advance to my couch cushions who will take a beating each time he does them.
-He can’t finish at the rim in traffic
-He can’t guard athletic bigs
-He can’t guard strong bigs
-He never helps when a teammate gets beat and when he does, he fouls
-He refuses to move his feet when it is his job to hard-hedge on a ball-screen causing him to constantly be on the hip of a faster player making him foul them or allowing that said player to score.
-He has been terrible in the playoffs.
-He mouths off whenever he dunks the ball or gets a 3-pt play.
-He is the only power forward in the NBA that gets that excited about a dunk.
-He should be dunking. He‘s a damn power forward.
-His facial hair.
-His screaming at Joakim Noah.
The Miami Heat – Today’s game means nothing. If the Bulls win or lose by 40, it means nothing. The Bulls have beaten them in the regular season before but the post-season is what matters. I just don’t think they have enough firepower to beat Miami in the playoffs. Miami struggles when the other team has two or three scorers that can break their guards down off the bounce or a scoring big guy. I don’t think that the Bulls have either of those things.
What has to happen for the Bulls to compete for a championship?
- Derrick Rose stays healthy.
- The rest of the team is healthy for the playoffs.
- Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson improve greatly.
- Derrick Rose has a MVP playoff run.
- Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah can play together down the stretch of games and not lose too much offensively.
- Thibodeau learns how to manage his players’ minutes effectively.
- Miami needs to slow down in some way or have 4 really bad shooting games in the playoffs. If their shooters are making shots, they are unbeatable.
Derrick Rose will be an All-Star. (26 ppg 5 rebs 9 assists)
Jimmy Butler will be in the running for 6th man of the year. (15 ppg)
They will try very hard to trade Luol Deng, possibly Noah too.
There record will be 56-26 – This will get them the 1, 2, or 3 seed in the East.
They are going to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. 😦
I am extremely excited to see how this NBA season plays out. Can the Heat keep it going? Can the Thunder be good again? What is going to happen in Brooklyn? How many games with the 76ers lose? Will Tyler Hansbrough finally learn how to read?
But, the most exciting thing about the NBA being back is that I get to watch Derrick Rose again. I am excited for stupid Bill Wennington’s Mickey Mouse voice on the radio. I am really excited to hear Stacey King lose his mind on a huge dunk. I am just excited to see him play and wow me on a nearly every-game basis. I’m happy he’s back.
However, I do think that the Bulls will still run up against a Heat team that they cannot beat in the Eastern Playoffs at some point and that will be the end. I hate to say that now but until proven differently, they are king.
I hope to find time to write more as the season unfolds. Follow my thoughts on Twitter during games to get my instant reactions. Most of the time it has to do with Carlos Boozer not rotating properly on defense. ( @bojansayspotato )