5 Bold Predictions for the Chicago Bulls 2011-2012 Season
The Chicago Bulls put forth a valiant effort towards a championship run last season but were stymied by the star power of the Miami Heat. It's a brand new year and the fans in Chicago have a new found hope with this year's team. In order for this year's team to outdo their performance late in the playoffs last year, improvements in all aspects of the team are undoubtedly necessary. The following slides will provide many BOLD predictions that will be necessary for the Chicago Bulls to return to their glory days and bring that Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy back home with them for the first time since Michael Jordan was in uniform.
Start the Season off Slow Defensively
This team’s chemistry and continuity just isn’t quite where it needs to be compared to late in the year last season and in the postseason. In order to be as defensively aggressive and dominant as the Bulls were last year, they are going to need time to get used to playing with each other again and increase their communication. This all comes with time. Look for coach Tom Thibodeau to increase the diversity in his lineups in order for the team to gel together as the season progresses.
Richard "Rip" Hamilton Has Early Struggles, Finishes Season Strong
Look for Richard "Rip" Hamilton to struggle finding his groove on his new team in the beginning of the year. The more he and Derrick Rose learn to play with each other in the backcourt the more fluid the team’s offense will run. Look for "Rip" to emerge as a big shot hitter towards the end of the season and really improve their chances of making a long playoff run. In order for the Bulls to have any chance at returning to the championship, Rip Hamilton will have to return to his championship days as a Piston and find himself as a solid mid-range jump shooter who is capable of making the big shot when necessary.
Boozer Has No Major Injuries
This is a very BOLD statement indeed. In order for the Chicago Bulls to have a chance at returning to the NBA Championship for the first time since Michael Jordan was in uniform it will be necessary to keep Boozer healthy as he provides the team's best inside offensive presence. Look for Boozer to receive many minutes in the beginning of the season to reassure him of his role as the Bulls' main big man and then look for the Bulls to rest him more and more as the season continues.
Many people will begin to notice his drop in numbers as the season goes on, but it must be noted that his health is the most important factor and to preserve it he must take less minutes during the regular season. Don't expect Boozer to sit back and relax this season. He will look to be more of a factor this season than he ever has been.
Gibson Brings Team Energy Late in Season
Taj Gibson may be averaging only four points and four rebounds per game this year, but he hasn’t gotten the time necessary to improve those stats. In the team's few games together this year, Gibson is only getting 17 minutes per game. This is about the same amount Gibson was receiving during the postseason when he really brought a new found energy to this Bulls team. Expect similar results as the season goes on with Gibson lighting a spark off of the bench, giving Noah and Boozer some much needed rest late into the season and postseason.
Gibson and Omer Asik gave the Chicago Bulls one of the deepest, if not the deepest front court in all of the NBA last season and expect no less from the duo this year.
Luol Deng Has Breakout Season; Leads Team in Scoring
While Derrick Rose is undoubtedly the Chicago Bulls’ relentless leader, 'Lieutenant' Deng (with respect to Forrest Gump) will have to bring a lot more to the table this season if the team has hopes of bringing another title to the Windy City. Deng has refined his offensive game during this offseason, including a number of new ways to attack the basket.
Deng has significantly improved his shot this offseason, and he has already shown early in this year that he is going to be much more aggressive on both the offensive and defensive ends. In order for the Bulls to make a legitimate postseason push, Luol Deng could take some pointers from one very important ex-Bull: Scottie Pippen.
Rose Battles to Retain the MVP Award
...but loses, to eventual winner LeBron James. Although this may not be that bold of a statement as there have only been two point guards to repeat as NBA MVP winners (Steve Nash and Magic Johnson), it may not be that much of a long shot for Rose to win the MVP award again. The biggest problem standing in Rose's way seems to be the reemergence of LeBron James this season. Saying that LeBron is going to have a "reemergence" is bold enough, but it seems as though he is playing this season with a huge chip on his shoulder.
While Rose may lead the Chicago Bulls to a better regular season record than the Miami Heat (another very bold statement), LeBron James' numbers will be too much for MVP voters to not vote for him. Look for Derrick Rose to play at least the same level as he did last year, but other players around the league will flourish with the shortened season and he will not be recognized as the Most Valuable Player in the league this year.