The Bulls could well finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference this season, especially if Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah stay healthy. Whilst Rose’s oft-occurring injuries are well documented, Noah seems to slip under the radar somewhat. After all, this is a man who just two seasons ago was fourth in MVP voting and was Defensive Player of the Year – a serious baller. Last year, niggling injuries and the injection of Pau Gasol into the team made for a down season for Noah and in turn, a down season for Chicago. Gasol, best suited to the Centre position at this stage of his career, also forced Noah out onto the perimeter defesively, often chasing stretch four’s and quicker players and ending up out of position defensively. Noah won a DPOY as a Centre and should certainly be playing that position, however neither he nor Gasol is quick enough to guard the modern four on the perimeter, which presents an interesting conundrum defensively for the Bulls. How incoming coach Fred Hoiberg handles that will be extremely interesting.
One option is to use Nikola Mirotic in a larger role, a player who also provides excellent spacing and passing offensively in a potentially more spread Hoiberg offense. Interestingly, Thibodeau’s offense was 13th in passing per 48 and actually had the 10th least time between passes, indicating that they were moving the ball well, however Hoiberg ran a beautiful, aestheically pleasing offense at Iowa State and you can expect it to translate to Chicago. The Cyclones shot over 40% of their Field Goals from 3 point land last season and still managed to convert 36.1% of them. Hoiberg’s pet plays involve spacing the floor around the pick-and-rolls and kicking out to shooters on the weak side of the ball screen (potentially Rose kicking to the likes of Butler, McDermott, Snell, Mirotic and Dunleavy). Butler, in particular, should feast under Hoiberg’s offensive schemes and will be expected to be the number one man once again this season. Butler likely holds the key to Chicago’s chances in the Eastern Conference.
This Bulls team is extremely deep, with the likes of Brooks, Hinrich, McDermott, Mirotic, Portis, Snell and Gibson coming off the bench. Whilst Mirotic, Portis and McDermott provide a different look for the Bulls froncourt rotation, Taj Gibson does not. Can you have too much of a good thing? Maybe not, but it seems that Gasol and Noah may be a sufficient amount of non-shooting big men for Hoiberg’s offense. The Bulls once again seem a prime contender to come out of the East this season.
Projected Record: 52-30
My Predicted Wins: 51-56
|2014||FGA Ratio||1||FTA Ratio||1|