(Photo credit interaksyon.com)
Taj Gibson was recently told to prepare to start next year. The second place finisher for the NBA sixth man of the year may get pushed into the starting lineup full time. That creates an interesting question among Bulls fans, Is Gibson a starting caliber power forward?
Gibson saw an increase in playing time this season. Unlike teammate Jimmy Butler, Gibson has made the most out of his increased playing time. Gibson has taken steps forward offensively by learning post moves, and the stats prove it. Gibson has increased his offensive output in all categories. He made the transition from just being a spot up shooter to being able to create shots in the paint.
Gibson impacts the game more on defense. Gibson is very athletic, and he is able to switch pick and rolls easy. The quickness he has makes it difficult for players to take advantage of the pick set for them. Gibson then forces players to pass the ball, because they do not have a clear lane to the rim. The Bulls defensive scheme allows Gibson to help deter layups and other shots in the paint.
The pairing of him and Joakim Noah was the Bulls best lineup in the forth quarter of games. The Bulls would often rely on their ability to rotate quickly to open shooters to frustrate the opposition in close games. The duo is also great in rebounding as a team. One player would block out a player, while the other focuses on the defensive rebound.
The only issue Gibson has on defense is that he struggles guarding the stronger big men in the NBA. Gibson is 6-foot-9 and weighs 225 pounds, which means he weights 20 pounds less than LeBron James. His slender frame allows for him to give up post position to bigger or more skilled centers. That seems bad, but the Bulls help a lot of defense so he is hardly isolated with a great center.
The NBA collectively, with the exception of the Indiana Pacers, are playing smaller. The smaller lineups allow for Gibson to play the role of a power forward/small forward hybrid. He can guard some small forwards with success without needing a lot of help, and he is comfortable enough outside the paint to not foul players on the perimeter.
Despite the fact that other players are available that will boost the Bulls at the power forward position, outside of getting Kevin Love, Gibson is the best option to start next year at power forward. The only question that remains is will Gibson keep improving or have the Bulls witnessed his maximum potential?
The more I do this blog the more people want to ask me questions about the Bulls. I wanted to start a tradition like Bill Simmons, and do a mailbag every week. I know a lot of die hard Bulls fans so I decided to respond to a few questions.
Why didn’t Thibs play (Tony) Snell or Jimmer Fredette more in the playoffs? The Bulls needed some 3-point shooting. Raymond from Chicago
Coach Tom Thibodeau is known for not letting players that do not know his system into games on a regular basis. Fredette was signed towards the end of the season, which made the likelihood of him playing key moments in the postseason out of the question. Tony Snell is a different situation. This is the same formula that Thibs used with Jimmy Butler. During Butler’s rookie year, he only logged 2.8 minutes a game. Snell will play more next year when he learns how to play as a Bull.
What kind of player would Michael Jordan be in today’s NBA? Alexander from Chicago
Jordan would be more dominate than he was during his time playing, because the way that the game is officiated has changed. Players are no longer allowed to hand check players at the top of the key. Jordan would get a lot of fouls called in today’s NBA. He was an 84 percent free throw shooter during his career. Jordan would get to the line as much as James Harden does, and that would add another eight points to his career average. That is a total of at least 38 points per game, so he will be the greatest player by a large margin.
Is Joakim Noah a good center because there are no elite center in the league? Thomas from Denver
To answer the question you have to look at what Noah does for a team. He is a good at rebounding consistently, and passing the ball in the low post. He is not an offensive threat like Patrick Ewing was, but centers with that kind of skill set are hard to find. Most centers in the history of the league had to protect the rim, rebound, and set screens. If that is the criteria to judge a good center then Noah is a good center regardless.
Do the Bulls really need to get Carmelo Anthony to contend in the Eastern Conference? Or do they just need to get healthy and add role players? Joann from Bollingbrook
The Bulls need to add pieces on the frontcourt and backcourt. The Bulls do not just need Carmelo Anthony to be successful in the Eastern Conference, but they do need offensive weapons and depth. The Bulls need scoring badly they finished last in regular season and playoff scoring. Even with Derrick Rose’s return, the roster needs a superstar to regain their top ranking in the Eastern Conference.
Good Bull/Bad Bull is a discussion where the both sides of a topic are argued that pertains to the Bulls. Picture the discussion between the two to rival the good and evil angels that appeared on cartoon characters shoulders. The views and opinions of Good Bull/Bad Bull do not reflect Chicago See Red or any person in particular.
Joakim Noah The newly crowned defensive player of the year has a passion and drive few players in the NBA have. He plays the center position, that position has seen a decline over the years. With Roy Hibbert and Dwight Howard as Noah’s main competition at the position, is he the best center in the NBA?
(Photo credit nba.com)
Bad Bull: Hibbert should not be in the discussion at all because of his inconsistency this postseason. No player that scores zero points in the playoffs should be considered the best at anything in the NBA. Noah is a good player, and he deserved to win defensive player of the year, but he is not the best center in the game right now.
The best center is Marc Gasol. The younger Gasol brother is a more complete player than Noah. The 7-foot-1 Gasol is a force in the paint. He uses his 265 pound frame to frustrate players on both sides of the ball. Gasol is a better offensively than Noah. The two point advantage Gasol has does not begin to explain his impact on the Grizzles. Gasol can be successful shooting the 15 foot jump shot. That makes defenses have to guard him when he is away from the basket. That opens lanes up and creates spacing for teammates.
Noah can hit the 15 foot shot, but only if its an emergency. He only shoots 37.7 percent from that distance. Noah also struggles outside the paint. He shoots a worse average of 35.7 from 5-9 feet away from the rim. Noah cannot be the best center if he is the void of offensive moves. Outside of crashing the offensive boards, Noah does not have a move to get him points in key situations. He often just puts his head down, and drive hoping to uses his quickness to get around a defender. Noah is defiantly a good center, but not quite the best.
(Photo credit africatopsports.com)
Good Bull: Noah might lack a go to move while on offense to score, but that does not disqualify him from being the best center, Despite the fact that Gasol is more polished offensively, Noah only averages 2 points per game less than him. The reason is because Noah give 100 percent effort on every play. He is always moving fast, and he is relentless on the defensive side of the ball. He can change a game with his help defense. Noah finished sixth this season with 11.3 rebounds, and of those 7.7 came on the defensive side of the ball. Noah ensures that teams have one shot per possession.
Noah is also the only center that is a leader on for a team. In the NBA, the leaders on the team are usually the players with the ball in their hands late in games, but that is not the case for Noah. Noah is the leader of the Bulls, because he gives his all every game. The other players on the Bulls see that, and they play similar. No other center shows the nonstop effort that he shows, or leads a team without leading the team in points. He is a professional, and does not complain about his team in public. No other center is as valuable to his team. The Bulls without Derrick Rose made the playoffs twice, but without Noah the Bulls are a lottery team.
In sports, legacies are defined by winning championships. In baseball the New York Yankees are the best team, because they have won 27 world titles. In football the Pittsburgh Steelers reign supreme with six super bowls won. The same can be said about the NBA. The Boston Celtics are number one with 17 titles, followed by the Los Angles Lakers with 16. The third place team are the Bulls with six followed by the San Antonio Spurs with four. As far as the all-time list goes the Spurs have surpassed the Bulls.
(Photo credit blogs.wsj.com)
The Spurs are trying to win their fifth NBA titles as they go against the Miami Heat. If the Spurs are successful, the franchise would have won NBA titles in three decades. Only the Lakers and Celtics have completed this feat before. The thing that makes the Spurs run so successful is that they keep their star players. Tim Duncan was a rookie on that 1999 NBA championship team, and 15 years later he is still a key contributor. The addition of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have set a record for playoff wins for a trio.
The Bulls had a dominate stretch in the 1990s that made the franchise popular, but if you take away the eight years that the Bulls were championship contenders the franchise has not been great. The 1984-1988 Bulls won one playoff series, and was swept by the Boston Celtics twice. The 5-12 record in the playoffs is far from the the level of excellence the Spurs have enjoyed.
The Bulls also fell victim to a horrible rebuilding phase. Top players did not want to play for the Tim Floyd coached Bulls. It took the Bulls seven years to contend in the Eastern Conference. The time on top was shorter than expected as the Bulls have not reached the Eastern Conference Finals since the 2010 season.
The Spurs are always a top team in the tougher Western Conference. They have become the benchmark for how teams in the west judge themselves. The Spurs have faced off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzles, and the Lakers in the playoffs, and advanced past them all. The Spurs have sustained a level of greatness that outlast all of their rivals. The Spurs rivals with the Lakers has faded away, because the Lakers are a lottery team now. The Spurs effortless style sometimes, puts casual NBA fans to sleep. The Spurs execute offense and defense so easy that they can go on big run without fans noticing.
If the Spurs win against the Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals, then the long standing success would widen the gap between them and the Bulls on the NBA franchise list. The Bulls will forever have one of the most iconic players of all-time, but the decade that Michael Jordan dominated is not long than the 15 years that Duncan has propelled the Spurs into the upper echelon of the NBA.
Slightly more suspicious that the 2014 NBA draft lottery , the 2008 lottery was a one in which the Bulls defined the odds. With the best player in college being from Chicago, Bulls fans expected that Derrick Rose would be tormenting his hometown for years to come. The ping pong balls fell in the Bulls favor, and despite speculation on who to draft the Bulls selected Rose. The Bulls enjoyed immediate success with Rose, but what would have happened if the Bulls drafted Micheal Beasley instead.
Beasley has solid numbers as a pro, he averages 13.2 points per game and 4.9 rebounds. The problem with him is that he is constantly getting into trouble with the law. That is the reason why he went from Miami to Minnesota to Phoenix and then back to Miami in his short career. Beasley arrests shows a lack of maturity from the 25 year old player. He has a polished offensive game, but he does not play well on the defensive side of the ball.
Rose on the other hand has stayed out of trouble. The only issue about his character came when he allegedly threw up a gang sign in a photo. He has become a leader on a Bulls team that has gone to the playoffs every year that he has been in the league. He also has made history, by becoming the youngest Most Valuable Player in the NBA.
If the Bulls drafted Beasley with the no. 1 pick in 2008 the small forward would have only played a couple seasons before his maturity ran him out of town. Despite the fact, Chicago does not have the night life that Miami does, but athletes have gotten in trouble here. Beasley would have not been a model citizen, and the Bulls would have to trade him away similar to what Miami did.
Since Beasley would be a Bull, The Hat would have drafted Rose with the second overall pick in the draft. The backcourt of Dwyane Wade and Rose would have vaulted the Heat to the top of the Eastern Conference immediately. His win shares was 4.8 his rookie year, and increased to 6.0 the year after. Rose’s MVP year he averaged 21 points per game with 8 assist. With Wade, the two teammates would be able to penetrate defenses with ease.
What makes the situation better for Miami is Rose’s contract situation. During the 2010 offseason, Miami was looking to add two max to play with Wade. LeBron James and Chris Bosh signed with the Heat to form the Big Three. With Rose on the roster, the Heat only needed to sign James. James, Wade, and Rose would be a the Big Three in Miami, and with Rose still on his rookie contract the Heat could afford to sign better free agents.
The trio of James, Wade, and Rose would have dominated the Eastern Conference especially the Bulls. The Bulls would have been the void of a player that can take over a game. The Bulls would have a core that consisted of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng, and despite the fact that these players are good enough to start in the NBA they would not be able to challenge the Heat. The Heat with that Lineup would have easily beaten the Dallas Mavericks in the 2010 NBA Finals.
The Heat would be approaching this year’s NBA Finals with the change to win four consecutive titles. That feat has not been completed since the Boston Celtics of 1966. The Heat would have eclipsed every Michael Jordan led team on the all-time list. The cluster of talent on that team would force other teams to add three or even four superstars just to compete with the Heat. The NBA would turn into Major League Baseball, where only the richest teams can win. So by drafting Rose instead of Beasley in the draft, the Bulls saved the NBA.
He was the greatest of all-time. His highlight reels last longer than some player’s careers. He is the Michael Jordan, and he is the most iconic player in the history of the NBA. Jordan won six NBA championships in the 1990s with the Bulls. He reign of dominance put him in the Hall of Fame. Despite the fact that a lot of his peers are also Hall of Famers, their careers would have been better if Jordan would have decided to play baseball.
5. Scottie Pippen
(Photo credit sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
A teammate of Jordan’s for 10 years, Pippen enjoyed the success of winning six championships with Jordan. Pippen even led the Bulls to a deep playoff run the year Jordan retired. The reason that Jordan ruined his career is that he does not the respect he deserves for being a top 50 player of all-time. In his 17 year career, Pippen averaged 16.1 points per game, and made the All-Star team seven times. He was also on the all defensive team for 10 years. Pippen’s biggest achievement is that he helped win the Bulls first title. Erving “Magic” Johnson was two inches taller than Jordan. The height advantage proved too much for Jordan to handle, and Johnson gained a triple double in Game 1. The next four games Pippen was given the task of guarding Johnson, and he did a great job. The Bulls won the series in five. Without Pippen, Jordan would have to guard the best player on the other team constantly, and probably would not be able to win games in the clutch.
4. Charles Barkley
(Photo credit nba.com)
The big body of Barkley helped him become a prolific scorer throughout his career. He averaged a double double for 15 years in the NBA. He had a mixture of power and skill that confused defenders in the post. He was an 11 time all-star, and also was a member of the all NBA team 11 times. In the 1992-93 season he won the Most Valuable Player award. The only problem was that he had to face the two time champions Bulls. Jordan put on one of the best playoff performances in the history of the league. He scored 41 points a game against the Suns. The Bulls won the series in six, in thanks to a clutch 3-pointer from John Paxson. Barkley never got back to the finals, and ended his career without a title.
3. Reggie Miller
(Photo credit nj.com)
Life in the Eastern Conference was tough in the 1990s. The Bulls went to six NBA Finals in that decade, and a young Shaquille O’Neal dominated as soon as Jordan retired. One player that suffered a great deal was Miller. Miller enjoyed his best years from 1990-98. Those years he scored around 20 points a game. His teams were never able to advance in far enough to play the Bulls on a regular basis. The Pacers were often knocked out by their long time rivals the New York Knicks. That all changed in 1998 when the Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference to play an old Bulls team. Miller with Rik Smits and Dale Davis looked to work an inside out attack on the Bulls. They forced a Game 7, but could not close the deal and lost that final game 88-83.
2. Patrick Ewing
(Photo credit simplybasketball.tumbrl.com)
Speaking of life in the Eastern Conference being tough, Ewing is another example. Ewing was a tremendous two way player. He averaged 20 points per game for 12 straight seasons. Ewing also was a three time all NBA defender. The reason that Ewing is so high is because Jordan beat him in the pros and in college. The Knicks and the Bulls played each other six times in the playoffs, and the Bulls won five of those matchups. The only victory for the Knicks came in 1994 when they won a Game 7 while Jordan was playing baseball. The next time the two teams meet in the playoffs the Bulls won in five games.
1. Karl Malone
(Photo credit virgogumbo.blogsport.com)
Malone is still one of the best scorer in the history of the NBA. He averaged 25 points per game. Malone scored 4,000 more points than Jordan (Malone played in 400 more games than Jordan). Malone averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds for ten straight years with the Jazz, and he won the MVP in 1996-97. That is where he success stops. Two years in a row the Jazz faced off against the Bulls in the NBA Finals and lost. The 1998 lost was the worst. The Jazz had everything working in their favor, the Bulls just played a seven game series while the Jazz swept their series, the Jazz had the home court advantage, and the Bulls were having off the court issues. The Jazz went up in Game 6, and if they won Game 7 was going to be at home in front of a loud crowd. However the shot happened, and the Bulls won their six title. The Jazz would not make it to another NBA finals, and Malone just like most of the list finished his career without a ring thanks to Michael Jordan.
Months after Derrick Rose’s injury in Portland, the Bulls seemed to waive the white flag on the season by trading away their star small forward Luol Deng for reserve center Andrew Bynum. The NBA world knew that the Bulls were going to waive Bynum quickly to make cap room. At the moment of the trade, the Cavilers were going to pair Deng with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters to make a playoff run in the east. The Bulls had a chance to have a change a high pick if they missed the playoffs, and could trade both of their first round picks to go higher in the draft.
Both predictions were wrong the Bulls went on a hot streak after they jettisoned the former all-star forward . The Cavs struggled after adding Deng, and finished the season 32-49 five games behind the eight place Atlanta Hawks. The Cavs were in a bad position, because they gambled to make the playoffs in a year where the draft was deep at the top. With the tenth place finish in the east, the Cavs had a low chance of getting a high pick.
The Bulls made the playoffs, and so did the Charlotte Bobcats (They are officially the Hornets now). The Bulls were officially out of the lottery, but when they waived Bynum they had enough cap room to sign a free agents. If the Bulls get rid of Boozer this offseason they have the flexibly to add a max contract player.
The Cavs surprising won the top pick in the draft, and have the ability to pick any of the top NBA prospect. They can add another game changer to their core that has two no. 1 picks.The Cavs are looking at next year as a chance to make the playoffs, and potentially upset a top seeded team in the first round. The Bulls on the other hand are going to try to add a proven star to join Derick Rose and Joakim Noah. They are looking for to put a team together to win a championship next year.
The Bulls win the trade easily if they add Carmelo Anthony this season. The salary dump move could have been delayed until next season if the Bulls wanted to sign Kevin Love in the 2015 season. Anthony is available right now, and can help the Bulls into a deep playoff run next season.
Along with the top pick in the draft the Cavs are hoping LeBron James leaves Miami to go back to his former team. That seems unlikely putting into account he has gone to the NBA Finals every year since he left Cleveland. Taking the return of LeBron out of the equation, the Cavs still have a chance to be good next year, but not as good as the Bulls. The Bulls are a better team now, and even without gaining Anthony in free agency they are expected to go further than the Cavs. The only way the Cavs win the trade is if the rookie they draft is the second coming of Oscar Robertson.
Jimmy Butler has risen to popularity in Chicago. The third year shooting guard out of Marquette has been championed by Chicago fans for his defensive and his willingness to play heavy minutes. During the series loss to the Wizards, Butler was upset with coach Thibodeau about his lack of touches on offense. But is he right? Should Butler be used more on offense? Are Chicago fans overrating the young shooting guard?
After promoting the blog more. I have gotten an influx of emails about the Bulls. I will try to answer all the ones I can. My email is on my about page or you can just leave a question with your name and city on a mailbag post.
If you had to pick one player on the roster to start a team with who with it be, and you can’t use Joakim Noah or Derrick Rose? Paul from St. Louis
Wow that’s a tough one, I’ll say I would go with Kirk Hinrich. Despite my comments about how he is not a starting point guard right now he is the smartest player on the team. Hinrich is a player that fights for lose balls, and his attitude for winning influences a team. If I do keep Hinrich, the rest of the team has to be young and athletic so that the offensive can run smooth. I think Hinrich is a younger version of Derek Fisher.
You write a lot about free agency and who you want the Bulls to get who are the players you don’t want? Sam from Chicago
I have a list of players the Bulls should not touch at all this offseason, but I am going to limit it to two players. Luol Deng is at the top, the Bulls won more games with Deng out of the lineup. This is an example of addition by subtraction, with Deng gone the Bulls’ role players were allowed to play with the ball more. Taj Gibson and D.J. Augustin had bigger roles in the offense, and they flourished with more touches.
Amar’e Stoudemire is number two on the list. Stoudemire did average 11.9 points per game last year for the Knicks, but he has not played a full season since the 2009-10 season. His knees are almost as bad as Brandon Roy’s, but he continues to play on them. I love his heart, and willingness to play until he cannot anymore, but I do not want to see him in Chicago next year.
If Rose played the entire season, How far would the Bulls have made it? Carl from Chicago
That is almost impossible to answer, because the Rose injury directly caused the Deng trade. A healthy Rose would have made the Bulls front office keep Deng, and try to win with the roster they had. I think the Eastern Conference would have finished like this: Miami, Chicago,Toronto,Indiana, Brooklyn, Washington, Charlotte, and Atlanta. I think the Pacers and Raptors would have had the same record, but the Raptors get the division winning tiebreaker.
All the top seeds would have one expect for Indiana. Miami would have beat Brooklyn in five, and the Bulls would have beaten Toronto in seven. Miami would have home court advantage, and I am predicting they win Game 1 at home. The Bulls win Game 2 and 3 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Miami runs up three straight victories to take a 3-2 advantage in the series. The Bulls win Game 6 at home, only to lose in Game 7 in Miami by 15 points.
What is the worst case scenario for this offseason? Mike from Atlanta
The Miami Heat somehow getting more 3-point shooting. With LeBron James, Ray Allen, Norris Cole, Mario Chambers, and Chris Bosh, the floor is spread with shooters. The Bulls struggle enough trying to get out to those shooters on a regular basis, if the Heat keep all those players and add someone like Anthony Morrow then they could be unstoppable in the east.
What young team do you fear most in the Eastern Conference? Stan from Chicago
The Cleveland Cavilers without a question. The back court of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters is tough to matchup against. Then you add the fact that they have the number one pick again, they will make a big step next season. Adding a young wing scorer and a veteran leader will help them not only get to the playoffs, but win a round.
On June 2, the Bulls needs in the front court were addressed. Today we are going to look at the wing players that the Bulls have to pickup in order be contenders for the NBA Title next year. The small forward and shooting guard positions are not as deep as power forward and center is this year, but there are some good value players available.
Starting Small Forward Carmelo Anthony
(Photo credit knicksonfire.com)
Any discussions about free agency should start with the Bulls trying to get Anthony. He already questioned teammates about playing with coach Tom Thibodeau. The 10-year veteran is desperate to win a championship to solidify his place among the best in the league. Last year, the Knicks wasted an MVP type season from him. He scored 27.4 points per game and added 8.1 rebounds on a team that could not make the playoffs in the east.
The Bulls cannot play a season where Mike Dunleavy Jr is getting a lot of minutes at the small forward position. Dunleavy is a good 3-point shooter, and given less playing time he can contribute to the Bulls when they need bench scoring. The problem is that he was not meant to be the starter when the season started. The Luol Deng trade forced the Bulls to start a role player for the rest of the season. The Bulls lack a player that on offense can play isolation with success.
Anthony is that perfect player for the Bulls right now. He will be a second superstar that is able to score when the game slows down. With Anthony and Derrick Rose, the Bulls would have easy scoring at the wings. Anthony also has the ability to play power forward if Thibodeau wants to go small to matchup with quicker teams.
Starting Shooting Guard Lance Stephenson
(Photo credit nypost.com)
If the Bulls miss out on getting Anthony, the next best option is Stephenson. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is entering this fourth year in the league, and he is still improving. He is intense on defense, and plays hard every possession. He is the Dennis Rodman of this era, and he can get under the skin of Miami Heat players. The problem was in Indiana he took a lot of bad shots when the offence got stagnate. With a top tier point guard in Rose, Stephenson will not be put in that situation.
He can get into the lane easy against the best defenders, so he can pass it to the open man after the defense breaks down. Along with his 13.8 points per game, he also averaged 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assist. He is close to being a complete player that will come at a reduced price.
The Bulls have to add depth at the either the shooting guard or small forward position this offseason. Jimmy Butler played too many minutes this postseason. Butler almost played every minute of every game against the Wizards, with the addition of a player like Stephenson the Bulls can rest Butler so he can play well in the forth. Stephenson can guard the best player on the opposing team for small minutes, and that will be his true value in Chicago.
Backup Shooting Guard C.J. Miles
(Photo credit knicksonfire.com)
Worst case scenario the Bulls miss out on Anthony and Stephenson, then what do they do. The Bulls can grab 6-foot-6 shooting guard from the Cavaliers Miles. Miles is a bench players if he comes to Chicago. He averaged just under 10 points a game on a team that had scorers like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Miles shot 39.3 percent from the 3-point line last year.
Miles gives the Bulls better three point shooting something they lacked last year. With Miles and Dunleavy on the court the spacing will be better for Rose and Noah to work at the top of the key. Miles and Dunleavy cannot play long stretches together, because neither are good on the ball defenders. The Bulls need to keep Miles in mind if they want to rebuild the bench.