With Derrick Rose sidelined due to a recovering ACL, the Bulls have been overlooked. Rose is a vital part of the success Chicago has experienced during the past two seasons. Despite this, the Bulls are better off than people would think.
The Bulls made many changes this off-season, but their core remains intact. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and eventually Derrick Rose, will be available at Tom Thibodeau’s service. They have learned how to work together over the past two seasons, and their familiarity with one another is an advantage. They have each worked in the off-season to better themselves. Deng, who suffered a wrist injury last season, has decided to avoid surgery yet again and will play through it. He played for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics and was able to work through the it. So far, there have been no concerns with his wrist. Deng’s decision can turn out either good or bad,but as long as it remains bearable, Deng should be fine and productive. Boozer has slimmed down and should be able to find more opportunities with Rose out. Noah worked with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the off-season, which has allowed him to improve and become more versatile.
“I feel a lot more polished offensively,” Noah said on working with Abdul-Jabbar. “Just because I worked with Kareem doesn’t mean I’m going to be throwing in sky hooks from everywhere. But I learned a lot from him.”
Kirk Hinrich is also familiar with many of the Bulls as well. During his first stint in Chicago, Hinrich played alongside Rose, Deng, Noah, and Taj Gibson. He is not a stranger to Rip Hamilton’s style of play either.
“Me and Rip have had a lot of battles over the years,” Hinrich said. “The first thing when we got together this year, we both said, ‘Man, it’s good to be on the same side for once.'”
With so many newcomers, it is good for Hinrich to still have familiarity with some of the Bulls. It is always difficult to gain chemistry and learn how each player works, but when there are guys who know how each other works, it helps. Success will come easier, and there will not be as many people to get accustomed to.
Hamilton should also be able to find more success this season because it is the standard 82-game season. The lockout forced the NBA to hold a 66-game season crammed into about four months. Practice was rare, and so was recovery time. With little rest and more games, injuries were inevitable. Hamilton is in his fourteenth NBA season, and therefore, is prone to injuries.
“I said it from the beginning of the year, with that many games in a short amount of time, injuries were going to happen,” Hamilton said. “I couldn’t get on the floor. Then when I did get on the floor, Derrick went out. It was crazy. This season is night and day, physically and mentally.”
More games with more practice and rest will also benefit Gibson and Jimmy Butler. More production is expected from the both of them. They will have opportunities and more time to practice and perfect their skills. Gibson has flourished the past few seasons showing his potential, and over the summer, he had the opportunity to be on the USA Select Team. As he becomes older and more experienced, Gibson can only help the Bulls. Butler is expected to have a much more increased role as well. With the departure of Ronnie Brewer, Butler will gain more playing time. Last season, minutes were very scare for him. He played in 42 games averaging 8.5 minutes of playing time. Despite this, in the playing time he did receive, Butler showed much potential. With more minutes, Butler can continue to show his potential and become more accustomed to the game. These experiences, past and future, will only help the Bulls prosper in the long run.
As for the remainder of the roster, they all have something to offer. Marco Belinelli is known for his long-range scoring, which will help with Kyle Korver’s absence, but he is looking for more than just to be a replacement.
“I’m going to try to score from three-point range, but I’m going to try to do whatever to win the game. I can dribble the ball maybe better than Kyle Korver, but I just want to be me,” Belinelli said. “If I have to take some three-point shots, if I have to dribble the ball and create shots for my teammates, I’m going to try to do anything to win a game. That’s the mentality I want to have.”
This kind of mentality will be beneficial for Chicago. Three-point shooting will definitely come in handy, but for Belinelli to also have the will to do even more than what he is known for only shows his desire to win. Vladimir Radmanovic is similar to Belinelli in that he too can score well from downtown, but he is more versatile than one would think.
“Radmanovic can play as a stretch four, he can play the three, he can shoot the ball,” Thibodeau said. “He’s not only a stretch four, he’s a very capable long three, so I like the fact that we have several guys that can play multiple positions.”
This versatility will serve a good purpose for the Bulls. It always helps when a player can be good at several things than really great at just one skill.
Nate Robinson is also a good addition and backup point guard. He has continued to grow as a player and brings great energy to the game. .
“The more energy I bring, the better I play,” Robinson said. “I tend to always have energy and bounce it off my teammates and the crowd. Fans get me hyped. And I take off from there.”
Energy is good, whether it be positive or negative, whether it comes from teammates or the crowd. With the energy Robinson is bringing, he will be able to fit right in at the Madhouse on Madison.
Nazr Mohammed, a Chicago native, should be able to adjust to the energy from Bulls fans easily. Not only are the fans excited, but he is as well. Mohammed has called his opportunity to play with the Bulls “a gift.” This gratefulness should easily translate into his passion for playing in Chicago, and having that passion can only translate into optimism.
Marquis Teague is one player who will have to become accustomed to more than just the excitement in the United Center. Teague is a young player, and he has potential, but he will need to work at it. Luckily for him, he has three fellow veteran point guards to help him. Having this help and knowledge surrounding him can only assist him into becoming a better player, and in turn, will help the Bulls prosper.
These players all need to develop chemistry with one another, and that will prove to be a big factor in the success the Bulls can achieve.
“There’s a lot more to the game than just individual talent. It’s how it all blends together,” Thibodeau said. “The common thread we had with the old group was their work ethic, their discipline, their mental toughness, playing to each other’s strengths. That will be the challenge for our new group.”
If the newcomers can work as well as the original Bench Mob did, there is no doubt success can be found. With the chemistry, familiarity, and the right mindset, the Bulls should not be overlooked this season. With Rose out, it is inevitable for them to do worse than they could do with him. Despite this, they have a good chance to achieve success. While records resembling the past two seasons’s are unrealistic, a record consisting of about 50 wins or more is not out of the question. They just need to use what they have to their advantage, whether Rose is out or not.