CHICAGO — As the Bulls prepare to do battle for the first time this season (albeit in a preseason exhibition game), they will be doing with a new face in the starting lineup.
The Bulls officially signed ex-Piston Richard “Rip” Hamilton to a 3 year deal and with the championship veteran in the lineup, the question is now begged: do the Chicago Bulls have the best starting five in the NBA?
Of course there is Derrick Rose and he instantly makes any lineup he is in markably better, but when you break down what else the Bulls are throwing out there, it begins to not only be a valid question, but have a pretty solid answer.
Anyone who flies the Bulls flag will immediately have their resounding answer of yes come under fire due to the obvious bias. But there comes a point where calling something biased is just an excuse for not having a better retort tho the gleaming fact the Bulls own the best starting five in the NBA.
Now those of you familiar with my work on The Pewter Plank know full well my blinded devotion to the Buccaneers — and no matter how right to wrong they are I stand behind them — and if you think that’s going to port over to the Bulls then you are correct. I originally had a question mark at the end of the headline but I chose an objective view here and made it a statement.
But aside from being doused daily with Bulls love, you have to take yourself out of the love covenant for a moment to really soak in how good this starting five is for Chicago.
Besides Rose, look at the other pieces. There is Carlos Boozer who is the two option in the lineup and despite the Houdini act in the playoffs, is one of the best power forwards the Bulls have had in a long time. Boozer is one of the few guys in the NBA who actually creates plays for themselves down below and that will be an invaluable skill this season.
Next there is Luol Deng, who is the senior officer of the bunch. Deng has been here the longest and has seen this lineup rise and fall. He is now part of the best lineup he’s ever seen and he’s one of the reason’s it’s so good. Deng too a lot of flak when the Bulls where bad during his tenure and all the diving in front of bullets has paid off. Deng is a leader on the court and he can score too. His defense is key to Tom Thibodeau’s schemes and he will be even more valuable this season.
Then we get to everyone’s favorite: Joakim Noah. He’s the guy you love and other teams love to hate. Each time he throws down a violent put back he lets out one of those gladiator-equse screams and flexes those muscles in pure energetic swagger. Noah is more then a massive cheerleader, he’s the second chance man. I said it last year and I’ll look forward to saying it again this year: Noah gives Chicago shooters confidence. He’s the guy who they know will be there to scoop up the rebound when they shoot and either put it back or swing it out for a second chance bucket. He’s vocal, he’s huge and he’s going to be a menace this year again. He’s not a scorer either, he’s Thibodeau’s hit man, the man in the middle who will take you down. He missed out on Defensive Player of the Year last season but had he not missed 10 weeks with hand surgery he may have got it. Look for a full season of Noah to be even better then what we saw last year.
And then you have Richard Hamilton, the new kid on the block. He’s the oldest member of the starting five and has the most experience and that’s incredibly valuable. Hamilton can score too and that’s exactly what the Bulls were looking for. He can defend, but he will take pressure off Rose especially in the clutch. Rose excelled in the clutch last season becoming Chicago’s closer, but can you imagine how teams will have to plan for Hamilton and Rose when they’re up by three in the last two minutes, or trying to catch up in the final stretch of the game? Plus Hamilton has the playoff and championship experience this team lacked last year. They wore down, as Derrick Rose has pointed out numerous times, and with Hamilton — a guy who has been there and won before — the Bulls now have an in on how to win in the postseason.
You can argue against this being the best starting five in the NBA because not all of them are All-Stars, but match this lineup up against any one in the NBA and few come close to it. I’m not saying the Bulls will run the table because I said that about the Buccaneers and lok how that turned out.
But with this starting five of Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton in the backcourt and Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah in the frontcourt the Bulls are going to be very hard to beat.
And that’s something you can quote me on.