It has been a long offseason for the Chicago Bulls, but the team has taken shape in the past few weeks. The offseason was characterized by the loss of the Bulls' "Bench Mob," and the acquisition of cheaper, if still-talented players.
We won't know anything for sure until this team steps onto a basketball court, but there are apparent trends with many players on the roster. The question is, who is trending up—and down?
To see the answers, read on!
Expectations were high for former Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague when he was drafted in the first round by the Bulls. He was one of the top recruits out of high school, ranking as high as the fifth overall prospect by Rivals. All four of the guys rated higher than Teague were lottery picks this season.
However despite all of the hype, and varied success in college, Teague struggled mightily in summer league. In five games, he averaged only 10.6 points per game, 3.0 assists, 29.4% from the field and 3.8 turnovers. He also just looked lackadaisical on the court.
This season could have been a tremendous one for Teague to develop and learn before Rose comes back and takes his playing time. But instead, the Bulls signed Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson who will now likely play ahead of him. It is apparent he won't be a candidate for the starting point guard spot anytime soon.
Joakim Noah had a relatively healthy and successful 2012 season, playing in 64 out of a possible 66 games. His overall success continued into the playoffs, until he suffered one of the worst rolled ankles that I have seen. That, combined with the Derrick Rose injury, was absolutely deflating.
Noah tried to rush back and play despite not being ready, and ended up only making the injury worse. He even tried to get back on the court and play a few plays later, showing his absolute resiliency. However in the end, he probably did more harm than good.
Perhaps the most discouraging fact is that Noah was not able to participate in the Olympics, despite its taking place months after the injury. That it was still a factor so late is a horrible sign for Joakim heading into next season.
At first, the Bulls looked like they lost a lot with the departure of Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, C.J Watson and Kyle Korver. The moves looked even worse when the Bulls signed cheaper players, and got nothing back for the departing "Bench Mob."
But after really and truly observing the new acquisitions, the Bulls' bench may be better this season than last season.
There is no question that Chicago has more shot creation and overall offensive ability coming off the bench this season with the acquisition of Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli. They also have more depth at the point and shooting guard positions with the acquisitions of Marquis Teague and Kirk Hinrich.
This team will not have the overwhelming defense of the old Bench Mob, but they have the offensive firepower to make up for it. In terms of coming up with a value bench, Paxson and Forman did a fantastic job.
Luol Deng fulfilled a lifelong dream of his by playing for the British Olympic team in London during the 2012 Olympics. The Olympic team even won a game against China, which was a source of great pride for Deng and the British people.
What wasn't a source of pride? Deng's performance in the Olympics. He appeared to be trying to do too much on the court at times, and definitively proved he is not a superstar in this league. In GB's lone win against China, Deng put up only 11 shots and was a non-factor.
After the game, Deng remarked, "Did I look like I needed (surgery)? I'm fine right now. I feel great." He didn't look great on the court. If it is a plan of his to put off surgery, then Deng will not be successful for next season.
A lot of the players who should be important to this team are trending downwards, but it's always good to end a prediction with positive news. That good news comes in the status of Derrick Rose.
After a long media hiatus, Rose has finally broken his silence. For the first time, Rose created a Twitter account. In his fourth tweet, and on Facebook, Rose messaged an image of himself shooting around in the gym with a shirt with his new logo on it. The new logo consists of a three-petaled rose with a D and 1 in the middle, to represent his three brothers and his mother.
Rose also broke his silence in an interview with Slam Magazine that was posted on YouTube. In it he told the world that he was 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule already. He also revealed that he can resume basketball workouts in three weeks, 12 weeks overall after surgery.
Every piece of news that comes out about Rose has been positive, not that I would expect anything less from the 6'3" guard who vaulted his way to becoming the MVP of the league. It is clear he is working hard and is moving quickly. He will be back to full strength before we know it.