Dear fan with a “Will D Rose play in (insert time length here) or will he sit out” joke still in your pocket,
There I said it. I had to get it out of my system. After 18 months my lip hurts from biting it too long. Think Derrick Rose has the same feeling?
Tonight is the big night that all Bulls fans have been waiting for since August 29th, 2012 since about 3:00pm. Not only is today the day the D Rose drought is over but it’s also the big day in every basketball fan’s calendar in getting basketball back. To be honest…wasn’t it expecting it this quickly. But it’s back so it’s time to get back into the 2013-2014 Bulls because this year will be bright (barring injury).
Key Personnel Season Predictions
This part briefly breaks down the contributions of every key player on the team. Unless you are a wife, child or parent of a benchwarmer, don’t be offended that I skipped Dexter Pittman, Marcus Teague, DJ White, and the like…
Starting Point Guard: D Rose
I just feel like nothing more objective can come out of my mouth right now other than he has looked bigger, faster & stronger this preseason. Bulls fans, calm down because it’s a long season but I agree entirely with my own opinion on this one. Are we (as D Rose fans) the starving stragglers who haven’t eaten in 18 months that would call some Ritz crackers the best meal that we’ve ever had? Yes. But are we also the die-hards that watch Bulls preseason (along with every Bulls game) and have taken note of what he’s done this offseason? Yes.
Derrick missed the biggest game of the NBA preseason when the NBA played in Rio and sat due to knee soreness. Most likely we can expect a decent amount of the same in the regular season…Don’t expect a full 82 from D Rose, which is okay. Look for him to take caution, especially on back-to-backs and easy wins. But, Derrick will have a great year and we can expect that. Derrick’s biggest contribution to this team will be his leadership, his improved jump shot and of course, whether he can learn to get past Lebron in the playoffs…if he can do that, give him a statue on Madison ave.
Predicted Stat Line: 25.2ppg/8apg/4rpg
Starting Center: Joakim Noah
Joakim has been taking it easy this preseason and I’m not going to say I’m expecting a rocky 2013-2014 season for Noah, but I’m anticipating that Jo will play 50-60 games this regular season with some minor bumps in the road. Jo is the unquestioned vocal leader of this team. He’s the heart and soul. I don’t worry about him being a positive influence but look to Jo to battle through some minor injuries for a road warrior. When he plays he’ll be at an all-star level as he goes all-in…all the time.
Predicted Stat Line: 12.5ppg/14rpg/5apg
Starting Small Forward: Luol Deng’erous’
Unfortunately for the whole city of Chicago this year the Luol Deng trade talks and contract discussion will overshadow Lu’s play on the court. Lu is consistent, dependable and a warrior which has been the best part of having him in a Bulls uniform but also the biggest scare to the front office. He has averaged over 38.7 minutes per game for the last three years, has played through torn ligaments in his wrist the last two seasons and is going on his 10th NBA season. Not to mention that he is making about 1-3 million too much as is.
Lu has been nothing short of a first class player for the Bulls. Lu’s stats will lose some traction as Jimmy Butler is now a greased up wheel in the lineup but Lu will still be a key player for this offense with similar production.
Predicted Stat Line: 14 ppg/7rpg/4apg
Starting Power Forward: Carlos Boozer
Boozer will most likely be amnestied after this season. The most likely is only to hold out in-case Boozer plays absolutely out of his mind this year and if he does, everyone is happy. Carlos’ lone asset to the Bulls is his efficient and effective offense. His biggest liabilities are his defense and his hustle which we all know. Despite scoring less points per outing last year, Carlos looked better than he has with the Bulls during 2012-2013. If Carlos can continue the trend, it should he a good thing. Boozer can also be a prime candidate to bring together in mid-season trade talks with Deng & Mirotic for a guy like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge or Al Horford (don’t get your hopes up until it happens though).
Predicted Stat Line: 17ppg/8rpg/2apg
Starting Shooting Guard: Jimmy Butler
Some people know me for my rather large man crush on Jimmy Butler. I’d like to set the record straight…It’s true.
But it’s not as true as it may be played up to be. I’m more infatuated with the idea the legend that can be Jimmy Butler. He’s got the athletic frame, the work ethic, the year-to-year progression (rookie-soph) and the city on his back. Not to mention, he’s a front office dream player because he’s cheap (for now), can play all 48 minutes (if needed), is a top 5 best defender of Lebron & he completes the Bulls lineup very well.
Jimmy is the biggest “boom or bust” player this year for Bulls fans because he is the one Bulls player who has the least statistical argument to defend his city-wide love. That said, I don’t expect him to tear it up in the box score this season because the points need to be distributed a lot differently now, but if he becomes one of the league’s most efficient players it will be easy to defend his value of the intangibles he brings.
Predicted Stat Line: 14.5ppg/7.5rpg/5.5apg
Taj was disappointing last season compared to the early success. If the preseason is any indicator, Taj is priming himself for a huge year. He recently signed a very fair contract that made him look overpaid last year. If Taj wants anything out of his great NBA start (pre-last year), he needs to play like he’s trying to run Carlos out of town and be the guy when he’s gone.
Predicted Stat Line: 10ppg/9rpg
Can’t leave out Captain Kirk because he’s a Bulls cult legend. Kirk showed signs of his body wearing down last season without D Rose which means two things for this season:
1) He’ll greatly welcome his role as a spot influencer. Playing less minutes will be appealing for keeping him healthy & packing the most punch for the rotation
2) But it also means he’s a prime candidate to miss games because of nagging muscular injuries that come with age.
For all I care, I hope he doesn’t play until April because he could be a playoff bench star.
Predicted Stat Line: 6ppg/4apg
Biggest New Addition vs. Greatest Loss: Mike Dunleavy Jr. vs. Marco Belinelli
Because in reality you just can’t say losing Nate Robinson for D Rose. This may fly under the radar but Marco gave us roughly 10 points per game in about 25 minutes of play last year. What went overrated was Marco’s “take it to the hole” ability, sneaky quickness & physicality on defense that Kyle Korver didn’t possess in the “bench mob” regime. Marco was an improvement over a loved Kyle Korver last year and he will be missed.
Now let’s insert Mike Dunleavy Jr. to fill the role of white guy who can “fill from deep and hopefully do a few other things and I don’t care what they are” role.
To start the preseason I was not high on Dunleavy. But after watching him I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. First off he’s bigger than Korver or Belinelli. Secondly he can shoot like Korver (who was a better pure shooter than Marco). Last, he looks like a real smart guy to have do some little things when in the game.
Ultimately the Bulls compromise in toughness with Marco but I’m looking to see whether the Dunleavy is a better fit for this evidently needed guy in the Bulls front office/Thibodeau system.
Tony Snell – Meet the 6’7’’/200lb piece of string cheese from New Mexico. The Snell pick surprised many Bulls fans that were hoping for a Tim Hardaway Jr. But the last time I think about when Bulls front office made a value draft pick over the consensus “want from the fan base” was when the Bulls took Taj Gibson over Dejuan Blair. Snell hasn’t had a great preseason and will likely see very limited minutes (barring injury) but when he’s in the game pay attention to his jump shot and his defense. If both look good, look for upward improvement
Erik Murphy – I have a hard time seeing Murphy adding much to this team. Wait…actually I take that back. Murphy might be the guy they drafted to run the practice squad like a charm.
Lots to look forward to this season Bulls fans. Under D Rose & Thibs the Bulls have had nothing short of incredible regular seasons. This is because they practice & play with the same “fight every play” mentality rarely displayed by full teams in the NBA.
Miami is going to be awfully hard to topple just by virtue of Lebron looking that much better every year. The positive is in that is that it’s incredibly hard to three-peat & the Heat are getting older (i.e. Wade, Bosh, Battier, Oden, Ray Allen and the like). The Pacers will have a good season but George Hill can’t stop D Rose and everyone on the Bulls matchups up well in every other position to the Pacers. The rest of the East is getting deeper but the Bulls should reinstate themselves as the NBA’s elite along with Miami.
Bulls will probably face some speed bumps in the road earlier in the season and Bulls fans should be okay weathering this storm. With a tough early season schedule, a west-coast road trip & the reacclimation of Derrick Rose to the lineup with Jimmy Butler as his backcourt mate, look for them to really turn it on late after learning from early mistakes.
Wins: 58 Losses: 24
Chicago Bulls 2014 NBA Champions (because picking your team’s rival is just wrong when you’re team is this good)
Team MVP: Rose
Team Offensive MVP: Rose
Team Defensive MVP: Noah