Off to a 6-7 start this season, the Chicago Bulls are better than their record indicates.
The team should be more like 9-4 rather than 6-7.
They've lost a couple of games that they really should've won, like their embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Hornets. Losing to a ball club that was missing their two best players—Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis—is awful. The Bulls are better than that.
Derrick Rose—Chicago's Alpha Dog and arguably one of the top-five players in the league—hasn't played a single minute this season due to an ACL injury.
Without the services of Rose until after the All-Star break, the Bulls definitely aren't an elite ballclub. However, even without the former MVP point guard in the lineup, the team should still have a much more appealing record thus far.
Perhaps the main reason for the Bulls not-so-pleasant start is their play on the defensive end of the floor.
As of Monday night, Chicago's opponents are averaging 93.4 points per game this season, which ranks sixth in the league. While that isn't a horrific stat by any stretch of the imagination, the Bulls are capable of playing better defense.
Suffocating D was the team’s identity the last two seasons thanks in larger part to head coach Tom Thibodeau. The former Boston Celtics assistant, who was hired by Chicago in 2010, immediately got his players to buy into his hard-nosed system.
In each of Thibodeau's first two seasons with the Bulls, the team ranked either first or second in opponents' field-goal percentage and opponents’ points per game.
This year, Chicago ranks 12th in opponents' field-goal percentage and seventh in opponents' points per game.
So, obviously the Bulls' defense hasn’t been as stifling as it was during Thibodeau's first two seasons in the Windy City. No doubt about it, the team needs to improve in that particular area, especially since they have a hard time scoring.
Speaking of scoring, the Bulls could also have a better record right now if Carlos Boozer was more consistent.
When the Rose injury occurred, many felt that Boozer would step up and put the team on his shoulders. Some fans in Chicago actually believed he could return to his Utah Jazz form in Rose's absence.
That, of course, hasn't been the case thus far. Boozer is averaging just 14 points per game, the lowest average since his rookie year back in 2002-03.
Boozer has simply disappeared in several games this season. He mustered just two points against the Minnesota Timberwolves, four points against both the New Orleans Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers and a nine-point effort versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Although Boozer has put together a handful of miserable performances, he has looked pretty good at times as well. The former Duke Blue Devil has scored at least 22 points on three occasions, including his 28-point night against the Phoenix Suns.
The Rose-less Bulls can produce a bunch of wins if Boozer can start to play well on a nightly basis. Whether you believe it or not, he can still be a dependable scorer.
Another disappointing player is starting point guard Kirk Hinrich. Now in his second stint with the Bulls, Captain Kirk is averaging only 5.3 points and 5.7 assists per contest.
Hinrich doesn't possess the ability to put up 20 points and 10 assists a night like an elite point guard can do, but he is capable of contributing more to the team.
In addition, Hinrich is shooting 30.4 percent from the field, 25 percent from three-point land, and 52.6 percent from the foul line. All you can say about those numbers are ouch, ouch and ouch. However, if you've followed Hinrich's career, you know that he hasn't been himself. Look for him to get on track as the season progresses.
With a roster that includes talented players like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, the Bulls are too good to own a losing record.
Don't worry, Chicago fans, your beloved team will get it together here soon.
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