Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

Only Way for Bulls Is Up

The ’13-’14 preseason ended without the Bulls having to taste a loss. The undefeated preseason had almost every Chicagoan’s eyes on the Larry O’Brien trophy as well as Derrick Rose’s knee. We may have gotten a bit ahead of ourselves in that we expected the Bulls to return to the court in ’11-’12 fashion, but as we all know, how you finish is more important than how you start.

The NBA is full of amazingly talented individuals who can do things like, 360 windmills, ankle-breaking cross overs, and gravity defying leaps. Derrick Rose’s repertoire consists of mid-air gyrating to find the basket, blinding speed when he drives to the paint, and unbelievable court vision. Although those skills are great to have, they cannot take the team to the finals alone. Basketball is a team sport and the Bulls’ last two years in the playoffs are a perfect illustration of that. There is no doubt the Bulls have a squad capable of competing in April, as well as playing in the Finals, but winning in June requires every player on the bench to step up and perform.

This year the Bulls have gotten off to a rough start compared to their preseason, but that’s to be  expected from a player who has missed a full year of play, not to mention his teammates who have not played with their star point-guard in more than 18 months. As of 11/14 the Bulls are 3-3, Rose totaling just 4.5 assists per game and 4.2 turnovers per game. From the field, Rose is shooting 10 percent lower than his 2010 season total at 33%, and minus 8 points on his 3-point percentage, at 25%.

Before Rose’s injury, the Bulls had the best regular season record two years in a row, as well as, arguably, the best bench in the league. Players like John Lucas III, Omar Asik, Ronnie Brewer, and C.J. Watson came in off the bench all playing like starters. This year we have yet to see the starters play as a cohesive unit, and the bench has changed a bit. Jimmy Butler has seen much more playing time and looks more comfortable and confident on the court. He had a great game against the Miami Heat, scoring 20 pts but has yet to score more than 11 since then.  Rookies Snell and Murphy can expect to play limited roles as Thibs usually likes to have his rookies watch the veterans. New addition Mike Dunleavy is expected to supplement the outside game.

One thing is for sure, the Bulls are going to get better its only a matter of time. Coach Thibodeau has the pieces to make a serious playoff run but rationing Noah’s time, utilizing Taj Gibson off the bench, an offensive and defensive effort from Boozer, and maintaining a healthy lineup are all necessary to ensure a successful season. I’d get my TICKETS now because once their hot their hot!

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports

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