The NBA offseason is a difficult time to be a sports fan since you spend most of your energy either speculating or waiting anxiously for your team to make a move.
Last season, both the NFL and the NBA were plagued by the lockout, meaning that sports fans everywhere were left with just speculation. Speculation mostly about when the lockout would end, since that was the only thing keeping fans from enjoying our long-awaited favorite pastime.
This offseason, I almost feel as though it’s the same as last year. There’s no lockout, yet the Bulls management refuse to get the led out of their boots and make a move. Seriously—I wasn’t expecting Dwight Howard to come to Chicago, but I’m dying over here, waiting on Gar Foreman to do something!
At least Chi-Town acquired Kirk Hinrich. I get that he’s no superstar, and he almost definitely isn’t going to singlehandedly patch the hole left by Derrick Rose’s absence, but all I'm saying is that the Bulls will now have a player on the bench that can do something with the ball.
That actually leads me to the point of this article. Last season, the Bulls arguably had the strongest defensive bench in the league. They may not have been the most offensively capable, but still, very much solid.
In just a matter of roughly two and half weeks since the start of free agency, half of the bench mob—Ronnie Brewer, CJ Watson, Kyle Korver and probably Omer Asik—is gone.
I would be disappointed by the departure of these players if it wasn’t for the two people in the Chicago Bulls' organization that still remain on the bench mob.
Of course I’m talking about Taj Gibson. I happen to think that he’s capable of starting over Carlos Boozer, and he’s only being paid $2 million a year to be one of the best sixth men in the league.
Coupled with the fact that he’s a fan favorite, Gibson is an absolute BEAST on defense and is starting to throw his weight around on offense quite well. Simply put, Taj Gibson is an untouchable.
In his rookie year, Gibson started for the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 26.9 minutes per game, and managed to average nine points and over seven rebounds that season. Since then, he’s only gotten the start when Boozer got injured.
In the playoffs, Gibson stepped up big time in the absence of Joakim Noah to establish himself as one of the cornerstones of the team.
Currently, he’s one of the few players chosen to train with the U.S. Olympic team. That means that he’s spent the last few weeks training with the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant.
While it’s almost a shame that he’s not starting for the Bulls, it does makes sense since Boozer has an obvious advantage in his offensive game—and it means that the Bulls still have a monster on the bench.
Possibly the only part of the Bulls' offseason that hasn’t entirely sucked (aside from learning that Joakim Noah is training with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), has been watching Jimmy Butler light up the summer league.
I’ve missed basketball enough to watch the NBA Summer League for the sole purpose of seeing how good rookie point guard Marquis Teague truly is.
What I took out of that experience instead, though, is that Jimmy Butler is going to make a fantastic player for the Bulls this season. I get that he’s only dominating the Summer League, but he’s dominating it in a style that only a NBA vet could pull off.
He’s not just chucking up shots, he’s waiting for plays to develop. His court vision seems to be substantially better than it was last season, and he’s playing unselfishly.
Not only that, but it seems as though he’s conformed to the Tom Thibodeau system. He looks more confident, his defense is still stellar and he’s going after loose balls and rebounds like they’re going out of style.
Oh, and his offensive arsenal hasn’t looked shabby at all during the Summer League. Over the first two games, he’s averaged 24.5 points per game, shooting at almost 50 percent accuracy.
I’m predicting that over the next few seasons, Jimmy Butler is going to become an untouchable—similar to Taj Gibson.
While this offseason hasn’t been quite what the fans wanted, the Bulls organization still has a powerful starting lineup.
The bench may not be the same “bench mob” that it was last season, but Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler are still around to make a difference for the team.