Stephen Loftus previews the NBA season ahead for the Chicago Bulls. With fresh, experienced faces in the fold, Chicago look set for a big post-season run.
2013-2014 Record – 48-34
Key Player – Joakim Noah
Off-season Acquisitions – Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Aaron Brooks
Chicago enter the season as third favourites to win the NBA championship, according to most bookmakers and with a new look front line, it is hard to see any reasons to oppose the Bulls in a weak Eastern Conference and to reach the finals for the first time since 1998.
The Bulls were crushed by the backcourt of Bradley Beal and John Wall in a 4-1 first round series loss last year, but with a healthy Derrick Rose, Tom Thibodeau can re-implement his stellar defensive system. While Jimmy Butler is an admirable wing defender, Rose is the leader on defense and leads by example. However, after playing only a total of 49 games in the past two seasons, the success of the Bulls will once again hinge on the status of Rose and his knees.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman finally managed to offload Carlos Boozer’s ridiculous contract to the ailing Los Angeles Lakers and then pulled off one of the moves of the summer to acquire Pau Gasol. The thirteen-year veteran now links up with Joakim Noah to form one of the best front courts in the NBA. Both Gasol and Noah average over one block a game and are two of the best passers out of the high post in the league.
Rookie sharp-shooter Doug McDermott joins the team to provide depth at small forward and to let the shots flow from the three-point line. However, it is hard to see how McDermott fits into Thibodeau’s rigid defensive system due to his past defficiencies at Creighton.
The intriguing part of this Chicago Bulls team is how the minutes will be spread between Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic, averaged ten points a game in the Euroleague and now faces a new experience in the NBA. Mirotic’s presence signifies the need for the Bulls to succeed this season.
The must watch games of the year will surely be the inter-divisional clashes of the Derrick Rose led Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers with their “big three” of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
Basketball fans have been robbed of the rivalry between Rose and James in previous seasons due to the injury problems of the 2010 MVP. This year, the battle is on. Two former MVP’s going head to head, for 48 minutes. It promises to be must-watch television.
Chicago to finally end their long wait for the Larry O’Brien trophy