Predicting What the Chicago Bulls Roster Will Look Like at Season's End
Sitting pretty with a 29-8 record, the Bulls are primed to make another deep playoff run, and they're likely to run in to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals again.
The Bulls have an MVP candidate, Derrick Rose, leading the line, but what makes this team so incredibly good and difficult to beat is depth and talent across all five positions.
1. Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose is good. Water is wet. The world is round.
2. Richard 'Rip' Hamilton
Richard 'Rip' Hamilton is the key to the Chicago Bulls' NBA championship hopes.
Rip's season has been pretty much nonexistent thanks to a lingering groin injury that has seen him play a limited role on this Bulls team.
When he does play, this team is transformed. Defenses must respect him, further opening the lane for Rose and providing Deng and the rest of the Bulls with more wide-open looks.
Without him, the Bulls are actually worse than last year.
3. Luol Deng
Luol Deng deserved his All-Star nomination after being the Bulls' second best player over the first half of this season.
His work on the defensive end likely won him the nod, but he is an underrated part of the offense, scoring in the mid-to-high teens every night.
No other player in the league can really challenge LeBron James and make life tough for him, which is why he should be given the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Deng's role on the team in the remainder of the season will be key especially with the injured wrist. If he keeps his scoring output relatively high and can still defend exceptionally, the Bulls will get along just fine.
4. Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer. The much maligned Carlos Boozer is another one of those key players in the Bulls' title hopes.
Boozer was heavily criticized in his first season as a Bull—mostly justified.
This season, however, Boozer has not missed a game and is shooting well above 50 percent. His scoring output is close to his career average, and his suspect defense is not quite as prominent as twelve months ago.
Boozer's role as the season goes on must be to continue his current form and, unlike a lot of his teammates, stay healthy.
5. Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah is the engine of the Chicago Bulls.
The energetic center drives the defense of the Bulls; his relentless rebounding and hustle set the standard for the rest of the team.
His first 20 games of the season were unremarkable. Since then, he's averaging well over a double-double and recorded his first career triple-double against the Milwaukee Bucks.
If Noah's energy stays true, the Bulls can give the Miami Heat serious problems in the playoffs.
6. Ronnie Brewer
Ronnie Brewer will probably be the first man off the bench for the Bulls if Richard Hamilton stays healthy enough to hold down the starter's role.
Brewer is used for his superb defense. He's athletic enough to challenge any guard in the game and fast enough to stay with any player who ends up attacking him.
His shooting this season has been spotty, but he has got past the hesitancy that he suffered last season, and his shot is falling more than before.
7. Kyle Korver
Kyle Korver is a streaky shooter.
The Bulls will have to live with that and hope that he can get hot at the right times in the playoffs if they want to get by the Heat and into the NBA Finals.
One improvement Korver has made this season has been to his defense. A historically bad defender, Korver has improved to a stage now that he can no longer be called a "bad defender."
8. C.J. Watson
C.J. Watson is going to have to be able to run the Bulls' offense in the playoffs.
He's done a fine job so far this year, and if that continues, the Bulls will have a great chance to knock out the Heat.
Watson is more of a combo guard than a true point guard, but his ability from beyond the arc has helped the Bulls' fantastic bench earn its fearsome reputation.
9. Taj Gibson
Taj Gibson is a luxury no other team in the NBA can afford. The Bulls can't afford him for much longer either.
Gibson is a fantastic defender, and his offensive game is growing, getting to a stage where he can at least reliably knock down a shot or two in the key moments of a game.
Gibson should be backing up Boozer but as of late has been playing the entire fourth quarter, as Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau goes with his defense over Boozer's offense.
10. Omer Asik
Omer Asik is another one of the Bulls' luxuries.
A seriously good defender in the paint, Asik could theoretically start for a large number of NBA teams with his defense.
His offense is limited; he takes too long at times to gather himself before going up for a shot, but his rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, often keeps the Bulls' necks in front.
Forward Jimmy Butler and guard John Lucas III are also on the roster and will remain there for the rest of the season, but their minutes are determined more by the size of the Bulls' lead and the number of injuries the squad has.
They must remain game-ready though, as no-one knows which Bull is going to go down next in this hectic schedule.