Scouting The East: Chicago Bulls

(Of all the mascots in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls mascot is my favorite of all time…)

Team: Chicago Bulls

Last Year’s Record: 41-41 (2nd, Central Division)

Head Coach: Vinny Del Negro

Comings: Jannero Pargo, James Johnson (No. 16), Taj Gibson (No. 26)

Goings: Tim Thomas, Ben Gordon, Linton Johnson, DeMarcus Nelson, Anthony Roberson

Blogger Thoughts -Matt McHale Bulls by the Horns

“On paper, the Bulls have a good chance to win around 45 games and earn the fifth or sixth seed. Maybe even the fourth seed, depending on the strength of the conference. But in reality, that may be a long shot. Why? Well, some people think personnel is the problem. I disagree. It’s scheduling.

The Bulls play 10 of their first 15 games on the road and face 10 playoff teams (Spurs, Celtics, Heat, Cavaliers, Sixers, Lakers, Blazers, Jazz and the Nuggets twice). In January, they play another 10 of 15 games on the road, including a seven-game Western Conference road trip to finish up the month. Add that to the fact that they have a league-high 22 sets of back-to-back games and, well, you see the problem.Because of that schedule, I predict the Bulls will (as always) start off slow and then have to scramble to make the playoffs.”

Thought On The Nets:

“No offense, but when I look over the Nets roster, I see one borderline All-Star (Devin Harris) and a bunch of journeymen, castoffs and a couple “maybe” guys (Brook Lopez, Terrence Williams). Last year, after a semi-solid start (11-8), Devin Harris infamously said, “We knew we were going to be a playoff team.” Only they went 23-42 the rest of the way the rest of the way and ended up in the lottery…and Terrence Williams hasn’t been setting fires in the preseason. Bottom line: they won only 34 games with Vince Carter last season, and I see no reason to expect a better team performance this season, unless something miraculous happens.”

Comparing the Starters:

Starting PG – Derrick  Rose (16.8 ppg, 6.3 apg, 16.05 PER) vs. Devin Harris (21.3 ppg, 6.9 apg, 21.65 PER):

Derrick Rose got the most minutes of any rookie last year, and he performed very well in those minutes winning rookie of the year.  Running the point, he didn’t draw a lot of fouls and he only shot 16 threes during the season, but he did like the long range two-point shot as it accounting for a third of his total shots.  As a rookie, Rose didn’t distribute as much as you would like your PG to, ranking only 42nd among point guards in assist ratio, but that should come with experience (sort of what we discussed with Terrence Williams).

Advantage:

Nets.  Now let me explain, I am choosing Devin for this year, but in the end, I think Derrick will have the better career as he continues to learn how to play the point.  Rose also struggles on defense, especially with the pick and roll, something that has become a staple in the Nets offense.

Starting SG – Luol Deng (14.1 ppg, 1.9 apg, 14.74 PER) vs. Courtney Lee (8.4 ppg, 1.2 apg, 10.78 PER):

Luol struggled with injuries last year, and even when he played he wasn’t his old self.  As the offense started to revolve around Derrick Rose, Deng lost two shot attempts per game.  The biggest question about Luol is whether or not he can return to his old self, and if he can, he will be a force this year.

Advantage:

Even.  Even though Luol when healthy is the better player, he has struggled a bit this preseason, and some people are worried he isn’t fully back yet.  If this is the case, I say that Courtney and Luol are on the same level.  If Luol is healthy, I give him the edge.

Starting SF – John Salmons  (18.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 16.03 PER) vs. Jarvis Hayes (8.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 10.85 PER):

John Salmons just continues to improve.  Last year he his a career high 41.6 percent on his 3s , added more than three points to his 40-minute scoring rate, and he cut his turnover rate by nearly 50 percent despite taking more shots. He also increased his long 2 shooting percentage to 42.9%.  Thanks to that performance, Salmons finished ninth among small forwards in shooting percentage and true shooting percentage, 18th in pure point rating, and 15th in PER, all of which were career bests.

Advantage:

Still not putting CDR here.  I know what people are saying, but I’m not listening – lalalala…in all seriousness, Salmons is coming off a career year, while Hayes is still Hayes.

Starting PF –  Tyrus Thomas (10.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 15.95 PER) vs. Yi Jianlian (8.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 10.98 PER):

To an extent, Tyrus Thomas is sort of like Sean Williams, a much better version of Sean Williams, but still.  Thomas remains one of the league’s most athletic big men, but he’s having trouble developing a reliable NBA skill at the offensive end, and his talents mesh poorly with those of fellow starter Joakim Noah in the frontcourt.   Thomas ranked 50th out of 65 power forwards in turnover ratio, but he didn’t create a high volume of shots or shoot very efficiently. Although he drew a high rate of free throws, he hit only 45.1 percent from the floor, mostly because he made only 36.3 percent of his long 2s.

Advantage:

Bulls.  Even with his flaws, Tyrus Thomas is much more of an impact player than Yi is.  He gets big blocks and big dunks, and if he can get his shot down, he will be an even better player.  

Starting C – Joakim Noah  (6.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 16.57 PER) vs. Brook Lopez (13.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 17.94 PER):

To me Noah strikes me as a poor man’s David Lee, they have the same strengths (offensive rebounding) and the same weaknesses (smallish center/no outside range).  Noah took 96.4 percent of his shots in the immediate basket area, the second-most in the league and in doing so improved to 55.6 percent from the floor.  Noah also drew a high rate of fouls and made just enough of them to rank 11th among centers in true shooting.  His offensive rebound rate climbed to third among centers and fifth in the league as a whole. Plus, his assist ratio ranked ninth among centers and his pure point rating 13th. The lone negative was that because of his lack of shooting range, he simply didn’t make enough plays, averaging just 11.1 points per 40 minutes.

Advantage:

Nets.  Despite Noah’s toughness inside, it just seems to me Brook would be able to overpower him in the post and score at will.  One thing is for sure though, Brook needs to box-out when playing the Bulls.  If not, Noah is going to kill him on the offensive glass.

Bench:

Even though the Bulls lost Ben Gordon, their bench is pretty stacked.  You got one of the best two way guards (tough on both offense and defense) in the NBA in Kirk Hinrich, a former all-star in Brad Miller, and a very capable backup point (if Hinrich logs more minutes as the two this year) in Jannero Pargo.  James Johnson should be something special too (he was real high on my draft list for a long time).

Advantage:

Bulls.  I think the Nets bench is pretty deep, despite that, the Bulls’ bench is deeper.  I mean they have two guys on their team coming off the bench that can start elsewhere…

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