Archive | October 2014

2014 Season Preview: Center

Finally….the NBA season is upon us. The preseason is winding down and rosters are set. The Bulls’ season officially starts Oct. 29, on the road, against the New York Knicks. Before that game, we will preview the Bulls’ depth at each position.

Last time the power forwards were discussed, now the Bulls only viable option at center is Joakim Noah. The Bulls can rotate Pau Gasol at the center, but his responsibilities are different from Noah.

Joakim Noah 

(Photo credit blacksportsonline.com)

Noah is the defensive anchor of the Bulls. He is in charge of making sure that the defensive rotation are correct. Noah gives incredible effort, and he is the vocal leader of the Bulls. Noah has the guard the best post player on each team every night whether its Dwight Howard or Tim Duncan. Noah must stop those players from scoring and rebounding. Noah is also great at switching pick-and-rolls. He is not uncomfortable on the perimeter like most centers, and he has the speed to keep up with driving point guards.

On the offensive side of the ball, Noah is underrated. He scored 12.9 points per game and 11.3 rebounds. With the offensive struggles and injuries, Noah had to handle the ball more than any other center, and he averaged 5.4 assist per game. This year the Bulls will be able to spread the floor with four top level passers in Gasol, Noah, Derrick Rose, and Kirk Hinrich. The offense will be better, and with the tough defense the bulls roster will be a contender in the NBA.

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2014 Bulls Season Preview: Power Forwards

Finally….the NBA season is upon us. The preseason is winding down and rosters are set. The Bulls’ season officially starts Oct. 29, on the road, against the New York Knicks. Before that game, we will preview the Bulls’ depth at each position.

Last time the weakest position on the Bulls was examined. The Bulls strength is in the front court, where they have the most depth. The Bulls have two players that are capable of starting, and a young player that can take over the starting role for years to come. The Bulls can rebound and defend anyone in the post with these players.

Pau Gasol

(Photo credit nba.com)

The replacement to Carlos Boozer is a 2-time NBA Champion with the L.A. Lakers. At 34 years old, Gasol is not a player that the Bulls are building around, but he is a key piece to the team. Gasol averages 18.3 points and 9.2 rebounds a game. Those numbers will help the Bulls improve their worst place offense stats from last year.  The Bulls are a perfect fit for Gasol, because the Bulls offense is ran at a slower pace than Lakers last year.

Gasol is 7-foot and has the ability control the paint with his sheer size. He will be able deter players driving to the rim. Gasol is also one of the best of the big men passer in the NBA. He can easily attract double teams, and then find the open man on the perimeter for open shots. If Gasol can give the Bulls around 15 points per game, he will be a great contributor in the playoffs.

Taj Gibson 

(Photo credit bigstory.ap.org)

Gibson had his best year of his career, and his reward for that is being a backup on the depth chart. Gibson scored 13 points a game coming off the bench for Carlos Boozer. He earned the trust of Tom Thibodeau, and was on the court the majority of the time at power forward in the fourth quarter.

Gibson is a high quality post defender, but he does struggle against the more physical big men in NBA. At 6-foot-9 225 pounds, Gibson can switch pick and rolls better than Gasol, so his playing time depends on the matchup. Gibson also has improved his offensive game. When he first entered the league, he was only know for being able to dunk, since then he has added a midrange jump shot, and post moves to make his playing time in the fourth quarter justified.

Nikola Mirotic

Mirotic will play both forward positions this year. Thibodeau can rotate Mirotic and Gibson at the power forward depending on the other four players on the court. Mirotic will be paired more with Gasol, because Gasol can get him the ball on the perimeter more than Gibson could. Mirotic will struggle to get a lot of playing time at power forward early in the season, so he has to make the best of his opportunities.

At the half of the Bulls vs Knicks game on Oct. 29, the centers will be examined.

Bulls 2014 Season Preview: Small Forwards

Finally….the NBA season is upon us. The preseason is winding down and rosters are set. The Bulls’ season officially starts Oct. 29, on the road, against the New York Knicks. Before that game, we will preview the Bulls’ depth at each position.

Earlier the shooting guards were examined, and now it is the time for the small forwards. The small forward is the deepest position in the NBA, unfortunately it is also the most unproven position on the Bulls roster. The Bulls missed in free agency on Carmelo Anthony, and decided to get better at the position in the draft, and by improving the pieces that were on there current roster.

Mike Dunleavy 

(Photo credit solecollector.com)

Dunleavy was brought to the Bulls to backup Luol Deng. When Deng was traded to the Cavaliers, Dunleavy became a starter. He averaged 11.3 points per game while shooting 43.0 percent. Those numbers were close to his career average, but last year he was often the first option on offense to start the game. Tom Thibodeau often ran plays for Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer early in games to get the team going offensively.

Dunleavy is a career 37.3 3-point shooter, and his ability to hit the shots off of screens will give the Bulls the easy offense in the half court. Dunleavy is not the best defender on the Bulls, but he does not need to be. With the lack of teams possessing elite level shooting guards and small forwards, Dunleavy can guard less talented score, and allow Jimmy Butler to take the better player.

Doug McDermott

(Photo credit nba.com)

McDermott may be the rookie that actually cracks the rotation. During the preseason, McDermott started two games as small forward to replace the injured Dunleavy. McDermott is the reigning Missouri Valley Conference player of the year. McDermott was ranked high on many teams’ draft boards.

During his senior year McDermott led the NCAA with 26.7 points per game. His 3-point shot gives the Bulls more spacing, and he has the ability to create his own shot. The problem with McDermott is that he is not effective on the defensive end of the ball. For this reason, he could not beat out Dunleavy for the starting small forward position. Barring injury, McDermott will be used as an offensive burst off the bench to help the Bulls stay afloat against opponents second teams.

Nikola Mirotic

(Photo credit nbaclubesp.com)

Under the rules of the NBA, Mirotic is a rookie, but he has a lot of  experience playing professional basketball. The formerReal Madrid forward has the ability to shoot just like most of the Bulls perimeter players. Mirotic shot an impressive 46.1 percent from 3-point range. That range will make it more likely that he will see some time as the small forward.

At 6-foot-10, Mirotic’s height provides the power needed for a small forward position. He can play with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol to dominate the paint against smaller lineups. He is known for being a tough physical player, but matching up in the paint with the more physical small forwards in the NBA will be a test.

Next time the power forwards will be examined

Bulls 2014 Season Preview: Shooting Guards

Finally….the NBA season is upon us. The preseason is winding down, and all roster moves are set. The Bulls season officially starts Oct. 29 on the road against the New York Knicks. Before that game, we will preview the Bulls depth at each position.

Last time the Bulls depth at the point guard position was examined, now the shooting guards. The Bulls missed on adding any players via free agency at shooting guard, but with a deeper lineup the Bulls can get creative.

Jimmy Butler 

(Photo credit usatoday.com)

Butler was the workhorse of the team last year. He averaged 38.7 minutes per game, and with coach Tom Thibodeau habit of playing his starters heavy minutes it seems unlikely Butler will get less playing time. The reason that this year looks better for Butler is that he will be asked to do less in the offense. Last year statistically Butler had a down year he scored 13.1 points per game but he was less efficient, he shot 28.3 from the 3-point line. Butler’s lack of efficiency was mostly due to his new responsibilities as a primary ball-handler.

This year the Bulls have depth at the point guard giving Butler the chance to play off the ball more, and hit 3-pointers like he did in the preseason. Butler will also have more energy to spend on defending the best offensive option on the opposing team. Butler can guard the any shooting guard and small forward, and that makes his contribution on the team more important on defense.

Tony Snell 

(Photo credit thestarters.nba.com)

Snell was the typical rookie under Thibodeau’s system. Snell played 16 minutes per game, because he was not good enough in Thibodeau’s defensive system. The summer league was where Snell showed that he is ready for serious playing time with the Bulls. He averaged 20 points per game while shooting 46 percent from the field in Las Vegas.

Snell gives the Bulls spacing on the floor. He can be paired with any of the small forwards on the perimeter to open on driving lane. Snell ability to make the 3-point shot makes it harder for teams to double Pau Gasol in the post. At 6-foot-7 200 pounds, Snell has the size to play shooting guard, and with the lack of teams with both shooting guards and small forwards that can score, Snell does not have to guard the best scorer on any team in key moments.

Derrick Rose 

Rose’s can spend some time at the shooting guard this year. Rose is the best scorer on the Bulls, and he has the ability to take over games at will. When Rose gets going in the regular season, teams can send multiple defenders at him to force him to get rid of the ball. If the Bulls move Rose up to the shooting guard, and play him with Kirk Hinrich or Aaron Brooks, it will be harder for teams to double team Rose.

The biggest reason that the Bulls should play Rose at shooting guard is the looming matchups with the Cleveland Cavilers. LeBron James is still one of the best on ball defenders in the NBA. Bulls’ fans know this when he shut down Rose in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. James occasionally does struggling guarding players off the ball. The Bulls can have Rose run off picks to free him up against James. With Rose at the shooting guard the Bulls can add even more shooting around him to make getting defensive stops harder for the opposition.

Next time the small forwards will be examined.

Bulls 2014 Season Preview: Point Guards

Finally….the NBA season is upon us. The preseason is winding down, and all roster moves are set. The Bulls season officially starts Oct. 29 on the road against the New York Knicks. Before that game, we will preview the Bulls depth at each position.

The first position that being previewed is the most important, point guard. For the past two years, the Bulls have not had constant production from the point guard position. This year the Bulls are the deepest at  point guard than any other position.

Derrick Rose

(photo credit atlantablackstar.com)

Thoughts about Rose’s demise are fading as of late. Rose demolished the Cleveland Cavilers in their preseason game by scoring 30 points in 24 minutes. That game showed Rose as the explosive, unstoppable player that he was when he dethroned LeBron James for the 2010-2011 NBA MVP.

In the game against the Cavilers, Rose hit four  3-pointers. The added range will make it difficult for teams to stop Rose one-on-one. Rose’s speed allows him to drive the length of the floor in less than four seconds, and with a reliably 3-point shot it will make it so opposing teams will have to trap him constantly leaving teammates open for easy shots. In case you forgot how good Rose is here is something to jog your memory.

Kirk Hinrich

(Photo credit letsgowarriors.com)

Hinrich comes into his second straight season as the backup to Rose. Last year, the injury to Rose moved Hinrich into the starting lineup, and the offense struggled . The Bulls finished last in points per game. At 33, Hinrich is nearing the end of his career, and he relies on his basketball IQ over athleticism.

Hinrich’s high basketball IQ allows the Bulls to be creative with their offensive lineups (will get into that later). With Rose healthy, Hinrich will be needed less to score, and more to run the offense with the second team. The biggest concern with Hinrich is can he constantly shoot the 3-point shot like he did in 2010-11 with the Atlanta Hawks.

Aaron Brooks

 

 

(Photo credit blogs.sacbee.com)

The biggest question in the back court outside of Rose’s health. Brooks can either be Nate Robinson 3.0 (2.0 was D.J. Augustine) or a complete waste of a roster spot. The Bulls need instant office off the bench, and are hoping that Brooks can turn back time to find his game. In the 2009-2010 season while with the Houston Rockets, Brooks averaged 19.6 points per game.

Since then he has not played 75 games in a season due to injuries. Coach Tom Thibodeau likes to play his starters high minutes, but if Brooks can produce points in quick and efficient spurts then the Bulls will have three good options at point guard.

Next time the Bulls shooting guards will be examined.