Well Pippen Peoples, it’s getting closer and closer to training camp for the Chicago Bulls! I have one thing to say. THANK GOD! Now we will sit back and watch probably some of the more exciting basketball that will come out of the Windy City in a while. To all the real Chicago Bulls fans out there, I will say that you deserve it and you should enjoy it. After watching a team that lacked the one thing that makes basketball exciting…scoring, this is a welcome and needed year that is coming.
Well Chicago Bulls fans, you do have to thank a couple of guys that most have raked over the coals the last couple of years, John Paxson and Gar Forman.
Obviously these two had a long-term plan that went back to the trade of Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers last year. In the short-term, this trade made absolutely no sense considering that they got nothing back except cap space.
Now I hope everyone gets it because the Chicago Bulls front office did an epic job in using it. Paxson and Forman made a bunch of moves overhauling the roster over the summer and no spot was impacted more than the power forward position.
First the Bulls flipped one aging player on the decline for two productive players.
The Chicago Bulls amnestied Carlos Boozer (and closed operations of The Legion Of Booz), which opened up even more flexibility to add veteran two-time champion Pau Gasol and negotiate a contract to bring Euroleague star Nikola Mirotic to Chicago. With these two additions along with the continued improvement of Taj Gibson, head coach Tom Thibodeau has a ton of options to use in the team’s scheme of things.
Now that the stage has been set for next year, what can we expect from the power forward position? Well to do that, let’s go back in history to see where the Bulls were last year to set the bar going forward shall we?
The power forward position was basically manned by two players, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson that caused more controversy than any quarterback controversy in NFL history. From fan support to the minutes being laid out, this was a strange situation to the end. Let’s analyze last year’s power forwards.
Last year Carlos Boozer was put on the Kurt Rambis plan when the minutes were doled out. He was always penciled in as the starter, but as soon as the 4th quarter started aka “the street lights coming on”, he was in warmups. No matter what. He could be scoring 40 points that night, it wouldn’t matter. Boozer was the designated scoring guy from the power forward position. However his defensive acumen left much to be desired with that big contract he was carrying.
Maybe that was one of the reasons why he posted career lows in field goal percentages his last two years in a Bulls uniform and his scoring average dropped.
In 28 minutes of game action, Carlos Boozer averaged 13.7 points, 8.3 rebounds a game last year. He only shot 45.6% from the field and 76.7% from the line.
In the end, Carlos Boozer became a bigger distraction than his production on the floor. How polarizing was he? How do you think The Legion of Booz was born? There was no middle ground with Boozer. Either you liked him or hated him
If Boozer was on the decline Taj Gibson was going in the opposite direction. Gibson endeared himself to Thibodeau and fans by becoming a defensive force off the bench. Couple that with an improved offensive game that featured a baseline jumper out to 15 feet, Gibson could finish games in the final frame.
Some of this blame still lies at the feet of Tom Thibodeau. I always hated the little league way of how he handled these two players’ minutes. This caught up with the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. Thibodeau never found a third frontcourt player that could impact the Wizards series and it reared its ugly head when Gibson got hurt in the final game. Boozer folded and so did the Bulls’ season.
But happy days are here again with the infusion of new talent. Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman was able to acquire a veteran with a championship resume and international potential for less money than they would have paid Boozer had they kept him. Brilliant! Let’s take a look at the new blood Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic.
Gasol has had a Hall of Fame run in his 13 years in the NBA. His career averages of 18.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 blocks will keep Bulls fans very happy and content. It’s a definite upgrade for the power forward position from a player who I believe will be the first starter since Carlos Boozer.
What Gasol brings to the table is a legitimate low block player which the Bulls laughingly lacked last year. He command a double team which can open up space for shooters. Here’s the good part, Gasol is a willing passer out of the low block so the offense will not be dead last in the NBA this year. YAY!
Mirotic will get time but not much. At this stage he should be brought along slowly and get acclimated to the NBA way of doing things. Either way, he can shoot well enough that all of us won’t cringe like we did last year.
In the end, the Bulls can’t do any better considering the financial situations that they were in. The power forward spot was a glaring issue with Boozer’s presence and the Bulls pulled the trigger. Then they orchestrated a plan to get some help to Joakim Noah on the backline and Derrick Rose who doesn’t have to work as hard.
As always, keep it locked to Pippen Ain’ Easy for all your Chicago Bulls news, previews and reviews. Like us on Facebook: Pippen Ain’t Easy and follow us on Twitter: @BullsBeatBlog.