Catching Up with the Bulls

So, you didn’t really pay much attention to the Bulls’ activity in the offseason. Or the preseason. Or whatever. That’s ok. I’m here to get you up to speed before the Bulls fly on down to Miami to face off with the Heat on the NBA’s opening night.

NateWHO IS NO LONGER ON THE TEAM?
Much to many people’s dismay, the Bulls did not opt to resign Nate Robinson for this season, and the Denver Nuggets decided to scoop him up to be the backup to Ty Lawson. Let’s face it: having him on the Bulls, he would not get much playing time. The Bulls want to develop Marquis Teague to be their backup point guard once Hinrich is gone. Even Teague will barely get any playing time this year playing second fiddle to Captain Kirk. But that’s ok.

Rip HamiltonRichard Hamilton also got the boot. The always injured vet has yet to get picked up by any other team too. This comes as a surprise, because having Rip as an option off the bench could be valuable to any number of teams. He may be a delicate flower, but if you play him off the bench for 18 minutes a game, he will give you a pretty valuable 18 minutes and provide a good scoring option.

The Bulls also decided not to keep Marco Belinelli around and he was quickly scooped up by the San Antonio Spurs. Him and Manu Ginobli will be coming off the bench, and it seems like it could be a good partnership in the making.

Vladimir Radmanovic is no longer on the team. That’s right. Somehow, someway, the Bulls managed to release Vlad Rad. Oh well!

hi-res-183707632-mike-dunleavy-of-the-chicago-bulls-seen-during-action_crop_650WHO IS NEW TO THE TEAM?
The biggest addition to the team will be their shooting guard / small forward off the bench, Mike Dunleavy. With Richard Hamilton and and a combo of Luol Deng or Marco Belinelli being banged up so much last season, it really gave a chance for Jimmy Butler to develop his game. Jimmy secured himself a spot in the starting five almost as soon as the last game of the postseason ended. That left the Bulls to find a viable off the bench option, and there’s where they picked up Dunleavy. He’s shot 44% for his career and 37% from behind the arc, but he also brings good size at the shooting guard or small forward spot and can play defense and is a play maker. He also brings a high basketball IQ to the table.

Mike James is also back for his second stint with the Bulls after being called into Dallas last year to take over the starting point guard spot when Darren Collison. James is pretty much taking a roster spot for now, just to make sure the Bulls have a solid point guard option to go to if Hinrich, who suffered a concussion in preseason (but is expected to play in the opener), still isn’t 100% at the start of the season.

draftpicks_hp_130701The Bulls used their draft picks this year on shooting guardĀ Tony Snell from the University of New Mexico and stretch fourĀ Erik Murphy from the University of Florida (imagine Joakim Noah saying “Flahda Gatahs” like he does in the Comcast SportsNet starting lineup video). Will we see a lot of playing time from them this year? Probably not. Thibs isn’t huge on playing rookies unless he has to. They could develop into good pickups for the Bulls’ future.

SO WHAT DOES OUR STARTING LINEUP LOOK LIKE? AND THE BENCH?
Starting Lineup:

  • Derrick Rose – Point Guard (can also play shooting guard – in tandem with Hinrich, this could be a fun combo to mix things up in a game)
  • Jimmy Butler – Shooting Guard (can also play small forward)
  • Luol Deng – Small Forward
  • Carlos Boozer – Power Forward
  • Joakim Noah – Center

Bench:

  • Kirk Hinrich – Point Guard (can also play shooting guard)
  • Mike Dunleavy – Shooting Guard (can also play small forward)
  • Taj Gibson – Power Forward (can also play center)
  • Nazr Mohammed – Center

That’s who you’ll see come off the bench for the most part. And at times, you will see this random assortment of characters:

  • Marquis Teague – Point Guard
  • Mike James – Point Guard
  • Tony Snell – Shooting Guard
  • Erik Murphy – Power Forward

Joakim+Noah+It's+PersonalTHE BULLS WENT 8-0 IN THE PRESEASON. THAT’S PRETTY AWESOME, RIGHT?
Well, yes. And no. It’s neat that they were able to go eight games without a loss, but all in all, it was the preseason. Teams weren’t playing their starters for as long as they would have during the regular season. If anything, it just shows that the Bulls’ bench is one of the deepest in the league and will be able to keep the Bulls in the game while the starters get much needed rest.

rose-3HOW DID DERRICK ROSE LOOK THROUGH THE PRESEASON?
In one word? Awesome. He, somehow, looked faster and stronger than he did before he got hurt. He improved his jump shot from all over the court, including from the three point line. He’s still able to get to the basket and finish with ease and doesn’t look like he’s missed a step.

For a few games during the preseason, he was averaging almost a point per minute. Now, that kind of productivity clearly won’t translate into the regular season, but knowing that he can still score with the best of them is nice. Don’t be surprised if Derrick returns to his MVP form this season. There doesn’t appear to be much rust in his game after missing an entire season.

Oh, and he also somehow added five inches to his vertical.

SO, ALL IN ALL, HOW ARE THE BULLS GOING TO BE THIS YEAR?
This may be the best Bulls teams we’ve seen in a while. An outstanding starting five, a deep bench, and the smothering defense needed to control games is still there. The East has also gotten considerably stronger.

New York, Brooklyn, Indiana and of course Miami are going to be the Bulls biggest threats this year in the East. For years the Heat and Bulls playoff series’ have been like a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon. Try as much and as hard as he can, the Coyote (Bulls) has never been able to catch that damn Roadrunner (the Heat). But this might be the years things change. This might be the year that the Bulls dethrone the Heat.

I predict the Bulls finishing with the number one seed for the playoffs, and having one hell of a battle with the Heat in the playoffs this year. If the Bulls were a second round playoff team last year, and have only gotten better this year (and got their superstar back), then it might be scary how good they’re going to be now. Thibs needs more credit.

The Bulls open up their season on Tuesday, October 29th at 7pm, in Miami during the Heats’ championship ring ceremony. Back in 2006, the Bulls went down to Miami for opening night during the Heats’ ring ceremony and beat them 108-66. But that was a totally different Heat team. And this is a totally different Bulls team. So I don’t know what that has to do with anything. It’s just a fun stat to remember.

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