Yes, they are. Will they? That remains to be seen, obviously.
The Bulls were definitely good enough to win the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but due to a few mistakes and the overall exhaustion and injury of the team, the hated Heat became the team slated to lose to the long overdue Mavericks. This year is a different story, however, due to a few factors that were not present last season.
The roster, even with the losses of Kurt Thomas and Keith Bogans, returns ten players and the franchise has added Jimmy Butler and Rip Hamilton with some fresh rookie talent and some proven veteran speed. With that, the Bulls addressed pressing needs for a potentially solid backup to Luol Deng and the two spot, as someone consistent for Derrick Rose to pass the ball to, who could help him out running the break and moving around the floor.
The nine regulars and these two new faces all have the potential to contribute big numbers on any given night and to have 11 of them on the same team means the Bulls are primed for a big playoff run. In addition, with this depth, Rose does not need to put the team on his back every night. This reduces his chance of injury because he will not be slashing to the hoop and going to ground hard every few plays. He can therefore carry the Bulls to a championship and they definitely have the talent to win one at this stage.
That being said, they still need to get past the favored Heat. There are some signs of hope here, as the Heat have struggled late in games with LeBron James and Chris Bosh unable to perform consistently in clutch situations. This bodes well for the Bulls because Rose’s drive to win appears to have increased, if that were even possible. In addition, despite offseason moves, the Heat are nowhere near as deep as the Bulls, where the third-string point guard, John Lucas III, can put up 25 points and eight assists, as seen on Jan. 11 against John Wall and the Wizards.
On the overall roster, the Bulls have the ability to score in a variety of different ways, with the clutch Rose slashing to the hoop, drawing fouls, and sporting a more confident outside shot. Kyle Korver, when hot, can put up 16-18 points in a hurry. Carlos Boozer averages 50 percent from the field and around 14 points per game.
And Deng, arguably the most underrated forward in the league, is good for another 14-15 consistent points. And those numbers do not even include the bench, where, according to Hoop Stats, the Bulls are third in the league in bench point differential, boasting a plus-12.9 efficiency difference over opponents.
In addition to these offensive stats, Chicago is second in the league in points allowed, giving up only 86 points per game. With the defensive strategies employed by Tom Thibodeau, there is scant reason to pick against the Bulls on any given night.
A prime example of this is the Jan. 6 win at Orlando, where Joakim Noah played single-coverage against Dwight Howard all night. This forced the rest of the roster to play one-on-one against the Bulls and Chicago’s depth and defensive skill at every position, thanks to Thibodeau, outlasted the Magic.
With Derrick Rose’s ability and leadership, Tom Thibodeau’s strong and consistent strategic coaching and the depth and quality of the entire roster, the Bulls are good enough to make the NBA Championship. But like I said, whether they can keep up this hot 10-2 start and win the Big One remains to be seen.