Chicago Bulls: Predicting How Derrick Rose and Co. Will Fare in January
In a standard 82 game NBA season, by the time January roles around, teams are clicking, players are standing out and analysts have begun reworking all of the predictions that they made in November.
Well, this isn't a standard NBA season and teams don't have time to make mistakes.
The question now is, how will they fare in 2012?
Let's take a look at their January schedule, how they've handled December and what we can expect from league MVP Derrick Rose and company this season.
Derrick Rose Is Hungry
Sure, Rose was named the league's MVP last season, his team had the best record in the NBA and he just signed a $95 million, five-year contract with the Chicago Bulls.
You'd think he'd be pretty happy, right? Nope.
Rose wants an NBA title.
He wants to see another NBA championship banner hanging next to the ones that you-know-who won.
Yes, Rose has great respect for MJ, but after losing to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals (at home) and enduring a LONG, strike-induced offseason, Rose is ready.
He's a student of the game.
No. 1 can score, but he also creates opportunities for his teammates.
Rose expects opponents to double, even triple team him at times, but that's okay. That just means that other Bulls are going to be open. Oh, and they're ready...
The Bulls Bench Is Deep, Very Deep
The Bench Mob is back.
If Rose is hungry, consider these guys the scavengers of left overs.
Players like C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, Taj Gibson and now Ronnie Brewer know their roles and are ready to play.
The number one thing that you can hope for from your bench is that they know what their purpose is on the floor. These players all know what they need to do and they have bought into Tom Thibodeau's mentality for the game.
Rose, Boozer and the rest can breathe easy when they're off the floor knowing that these guys are focused, determined and above all else, smart.
Let's Rip It Up, Chicago!
Richard "Rip" Hamilton joined the Bulls in the offseason and the team immediately changed for the better.
First, their bench deepened because adding Rip to the starting lineup puts former starter Ronnie Brewer into bench rotation. Brew-Brew has starting experience and brings it to the Bulls' bench.
The 12-year veteran (Rip) is currently averaging 10.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
His experience and influence is going to work wonders as it rubs off on team leader, Derrick Rose.
Anybody else looking forward to the Bulls/Pistons games this season?
Two Words: Tom Thibodeau
Tom Thibodeau knows what he's doing. He isn't the reigning NBA Coach of the Year for no reason.
If Derrick Rose is hungry, Thibodeau is starving. He knows what his team needs to do to make it to the next level, the NBA Finals.
His star player believes in him and that filters down throughout the entire Chicago Bulls' organization.
The last time a star player and a head coach clicked this well in Chicago, we were all looking forward to championship celebrations in June in Grant Park.
Thibodeau isn't the type to throw caution to the wind. The Bulls started the 2011-2012 season 2-1 after a poor showing against the Golden State Warriors. He knows that this team isn't invincible and that's his strongest trait.
The Bulls' January Schedule
The Bulls are looking at a fairly challenging 19 game schedule in January.
Sure, they'll play the Heat on January 29th in Miami, but there are a lot of games leading up to it.
With a shorter season and a tighter schedule, Rose and Co. need to lock it up.
They'll basically split their home and away games in January with nine games on the road.
They'll have to play in Boston, Orlando and Atlanta, not to mention Miami.
January won't be a cakewalk.
The Bulls were one of the best teams on the road last year, and more of the same can be expected this season.
The Bulls After 19 Games in January
The Bulls currently sit at 2-1 after a disappointing loss to Golden State.
They'll close out December against the Clippers with what should be hard fought victory.
They'll kick off January on the first of the year against the Grizzlies in Chicago which should put them on track with a 4-1 record.
Throughout January, the Bulls will be battling. There won't be much down time, but that's what the NBA is all about.
They're ready, they're hungry and they're going to win.
Look for the Chicago Bulls to go 15-4 over their 19 game stretch in January.
Oh, and one of those four losses won't come in Miami.