Following a record of 50-32, good enough for another trip to the playoffs, the Bulls had a little bit of a shakeup in the offseason, shocking the basketball world when they relieved their coach, Tom Thibodeau, of his duties. But the Bulls have the talent to not let that get in the way of them returning yet again to the playoffs.
Derrick Rose G
Jimmy Butler G
Mike Dunleavy F
Pau Gasol F/C
Joakim Noah C
Key Bench Players:
Aaron Brooks G
Taj Gibson F
Kirk Hinrich G
Nikola Mirotic F
Tom Thibodeau (fired this offseason)
Health of their key players
The Bulls lineup is, on paper, one of the most dominant in all of basketball. With Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler in the backcourt, the Bulls could give opponents fits both defensively and offensively.
And let's not forget about the tandem that teams will have to deal with in the front court, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol are both top of the line big men who are very balanced in terms of their games. Noah and Gasol both are able to impose their will at any given moment, as well as being able to pass to open shooters, they can both grab rebounds with the best of them, and they both are very consistent with their free throw shooting. The latter of their skills is not common in big men in today's game.
Mike Dunleavy is absolutely one of the most underrated players in basketball. This guy may not light up the scoreboard, or grab 10-15 rebounds, or run the offense, but Dunleavy is one of the premier shooters in the game. I can see him actually being more involved in the offense this year.
The Bulls bench is also loaded with depth. From shooters like Kirk Hinrich and Doug McDermott, to rebounders and defensive monsters like Taj Gibson, the Bulls bench could easily beat up on some teams' starting lineups.
The Bulls, however, have to adapt to new coaching. Tom Thibodeau worked under the wing of Doc Rivers in Boston as an assistant coach and has proven to be a very respected coach in the NBA, it makes it hard to believe that the Bulls cut him loose.
I doubt a rookie coach is going to affect this Bulls team. They're just too good.
The X-Factor for Chicago this season is their health. We all know that, ever since the ACL tear, Derrick Rose has struggled to keep himself on the court. This is one of the best players in the game and he needs to stay healthy if the Bulls want to win the Finals. Joakim Noah has also had a series of injuries to derail numerous seasons, Jimmy Butler also has had injuries in the past. These guys need to stay healthy to make the Bulls a force.
The Bulls, however, are just too deep and I expect them to finish among the top two in the East and finish with 60+ wins.
This Bulls team is very similar to that of last years third-place team. So team chemistry should definitely not be a problem considering almost everyone on this team played with each other last year. The only question is, how will Fred Hoiberg hold this team together?