Chicago Bulls' Final Checklist Before 2012-13 NBA Opening Night
Before the highly anticipated 2012-13 season kicks off, a few questions are yet to be answered for the Chicago Bulls. Also, there are a couple of adjustments that head coach Tom Thibodeau should make.
This will definitely be an interesting year for Coach Thibs' squad, to say the least.
Derrick Rose, the face of the franchise and arguably the NBA's best point guard, will be unavailable for awhile and could possibly miss the entire season after suffering an ACL injury. Plus, a slew of valuable role players from last season are playing for different teams now, not making Thibodeau's job any easier.
Here's the Bulls' final checklist before opening night.
Will the Bulls Find a Way to Score?
During the preseason, the Bulls were phenomenal on the defensive end of the floor. That's not surprising at all, since the team has simply shut down opponents the last two seasons.
Chicago's offense, on the other hand, has been nothing short of horrific in the preseason, ranking 26th in scoring and 28th in field-goal percentage.
With Derrick Rose out for the majority of the season, it's going to be tough for the team to put the ball in the basket.
Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer, the Bulls' best two scorers not named Rose, will have to step up big time in 2012-13 for the Bulls to win a lot of ball games.
Can Marco Belinelli Replace Kyle Korver?
Kyle Korver, Chicago’s three-point specialist the past two seasons, is now a member of the Atlanta Hawks.
The Bulls went out and signed Marco Belinelli as a replacement in the offseason.
During the preseason, Belinelli didn’t look very spectacular, knocking down just one three-point field goal, which came in the preseason finale versus the Indiana Pacers.
Whether it’s Reggie Miller or Ray Allen, every shooter goes through a slump at some point. So with that said, look for Belinelli to bounce back and become a solid replacement for the departed Korver in 2012-13.
Belinelli has made 369 three-pointers during his five-season career, meaning he’s lights-out from downtown.
Can Marquis Teague Have an Impact?
Chicago used the 29th overall pick in the 2012 draft to select guard Marquis Teague.
The former Kentucky Wildcat is set to be the Bulls' third point guard, playing behind fellow newcomers Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson while Derrick Rose is sidelined.
However, if the oft-injured Hinrich misses time this season—he already missed two games in the preseason—Teague will automatically become the primary backup as Robinson starts.
Can Teague have much of an impact as a rookie?
In the preseason, the Indianapolis native certainly didn't look like a first-round draft pick, appearing lost at times on the court.
According to ESPN's Nick Friedell, however, Tom Thibodeau believes Teague can contribute:
If you're on the roster, if you're in that room, you can play. And so when you're called upon you have to be ready and you have to play well. Each day, that's all I want him to concentrate on is knowing what his job is and have the ability to go out and do his job. As a point guard, I don't measure him by how he's scoring. It's how he's running the team and he's capable of doing well.
We'll see if Teague can produce this season if he gets the chance to play.
Increase Taj Gibson's Playing Time
One adjustment coach Tom Thibodeau should make is giving big man Taj Gibson more playing time.
Easily the Bulls’ best reserve, Gibson played 20.4 minutes last season. And this season, it would be ideal for his minutes to increase to around 30.
Gibson should log about 22 minutes a night at power forward, backing up starter Carlos Boozer, and pick up eight minutes at center behind Joakim Noah.
The increased playing time would give Gibson a great chance to have a monster year for Chicago and possibly emerge as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Big things are expected from the fourth-year forward this season.
Increase Taj Gibson's Playing Time
Thibodeau will start Kirk Hinrich at point guard this season while Derrick Rose recovers. That's pretty much set in stone.
However, maybe Nate Robinson should get the nod instead.
Although he has the reputation of being an energy player off the bench and isn’t the defender that Hinrich is, Robinson could do wonders as the starter.
Robinson started two games in the preseason, filling in for the injured Hinrich, averaging 22.5 points and 10.5 assists per contest.
Against the Milwaukee Bucks, the former slam dunk champion recorded 24 points, 13 assists, and two steals and didn’t commit a single turnover.
Sure, it was only preseason, but you have to admit those numbers are quite impressive.
Thibodeau should definitely look into starting Robinson over Hinrich until Rose returns to the hardwood.