Since the end of the '06-'07 season, there has been a common theme throughout the Chicago Bulls organization.
Underachievement and frustration.
The potential has been present since the '04-'05 season where the key cogs of the current roster where implemented. Rookies Ben Gordon and Luol Deng were to join Kirk Hinrich and their youth could push opposing teams for 48 minutes. Andres Nocioni signed that year, bringing intensity and hustle as well.
Since then, it has gone downhill for Paxson.
Draft picks after the initial season for Paxson has yielded incredible potential, but they haven't panned out yet.
Tyrus Thomas has developed into little more than a quick spark. His intensity brings blocked shots and crowd-rising dunks, but if Thomas isn't dunking the ball he has a hard time finding the basket. For the past two seasons Thomas hasn't shot above 43 percent and his emotions tend to overcome him, resulting in turnovers.
With some issues off the court, Joakim Noah's short career has had those situations spotlighted more than what he has actually done on it. Noah plays hard, there's isn't any question about that, but the Bulls need an effective inside scorer to balance their overabundance of guards.
Both Noah and Thomas seem to suffer if their shot attempt is anything besides laying it in or slamming it down. Their frames are at too much of a disadvantage if a sizable center backs them down. At 23 and 22, respectively, there is time to develop. The problem is that the NBA doesn't wait that long.
The Bulls have also had to deal with quite a few issues within the organization.
Most recently the players have expressed frustration that their defense is no longer a strength. Once a top defensive team, the Bulls have fallen to 23rd in the league. Luol Deng has noticed as well.
"The help side is not there, and we don't really talk that much on defense. Compared to what our defense used to be, it's not close," said Deng.
There were quite a few problems between ex-Bulls coach Scott Skiles, and the players reportedly not sad to see him leave. With reports of players quiting on Skiles, many fans, such as myself, hoped Paxson would hire a coach with experience and credibility.
Instead, Vinny Del Negro, who had no previous head coaching experience, stepped in. Now it seems that the Del Negro may be losing the Bulls as well.
As recently as last week, he was the object of Ben Gordon's frustration as Gordon went off on him in front of the media. Gordon had recently been fined for being late to a flight.
Add all of this frustration with the injuries of Hinrich, Deng, and Gooden, and it seems almost insurmountable.
Here's the thing. Chicago is only two and a half games out of the eighth spot in the playoffs. Who knows, maybe the Bulls can string together a few wins as they did in '04-'05.
They say winning cures all. But with the Bulls, there is quite a bit to cure.
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