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March Madness Bracket Tournament for Top 16 Players in Chicago Bulls History

Ernest ShepardAnalyst IIIDecember 23, 2016

March Madness Bracket Tournament for Top 16 Players in Chicago Bulls History

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    March Madness is upon us, but I am not referring to the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, which begins next week. The selections for the Chicago Bulls’ Sweet 16 are set!

    Imagine some of your favorite Bulls’ players participating in a round-robin, single-elimination game at 21 points event. Think of the potential tantalizing matchups.

    Is it possible that Derrick Rose can defeat the likes of Stormin’ Norm Van Lier?

    What seeding would Dennis Rodman have going into the big dance? Whom would he face?

    Where would they face each other?

    This is fantasy basketball at its best. I cannot wait until tip-off.

     

    Statistics were taken from Basketball-Reference.com.

Bubbles Bursting: The Last Four Players Out

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    When the NCAA Tournament committee reveals their choices, count on someone being left out. It is not an indictment on their careers. There is a ton of competition. Unfortunately, someone is always disappointed.

    The following players had some good seasons with the Bulls. They wear the label of “last four out” to perfection.

    1. Elton Brand

    2. Tom Boerwinkle

    3. B.J. Armstrong

    4. Dave Corzine

     

    Each player added a different element to the Bulls when they played for them.

    Brand had the shortest tenure with the team. It is hard to overlook his winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2000. Sadly, his best years came while playing in another uniform.

    Boerwinkle and Corzine were both ahead of their times as post players. They were gifted, fundamentally sound players on both ends of the floor. As good as they were, the team was built around other players.  

    Armstrong is a one-time NBA All-Star, but his career never lived up to its promise.  

South Bracket: First Round

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    1-Seed: Michael Jordan vs. 4-Seed: Kirk Hinrich

    This matchup features arguably the “greatest player ever” going one-on-one with the underrated Hinrich. In the minds of many observers, the game is a gimme for Jordan, but you cannot discount Hinrich’s defensive prowess. Hinrich has held his own against the Dwyane Wades and Kobe Bryants of the world.

    We must remember that Hinrich is the son of a basketball coach. He knows the tricks of the trade. Defensively, he has enough moxie to harass Jordan. He can make Jordan work for his shots.

    Jordan gets the best of Hinrich, but it would be closer than you think.

    Michael Jordan 21 - Kirk Hinrich 16

South Bracket: First Round

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    2-Seed: Norm Van Lier vs. 3-Seed: Luol Deng

    Two of the best defenders in Bulls’ history square off. This game is certain to have some jersey pulling, eye gouging and gut punches. The slugfest would be gritty but entertaining.

    Van Lier has a ton of shrewdness and can push Deng on defense. For as good as Van Lier is, he is not in the same league offensively with the underrated Sudanese forward.

    Deng does not get the credit he deserves because he does not have the gaudy statistics typical of a two-time All-Star.

    Deng has one clear advantage; he is bigger. Deng wins this game based off his superior size.

    Luol Deng 21 – Norm Van Lier 18   

South Bracket: Second Round

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    Michael Jordan versus Luol Deng

    On paper, this is a terrible pairing. It is not. The match of wills could wind up as the most entertaining of the Elite 8.

    Two types of defenders gave Jordan fits. A few shorter guards gave Jordan trouble by forcing him to pick up his dribble. The other successful defenders were swingmen who used their strength to keep Jordan out of the lane. Both types were rare but when they emerged, Jordan had to work harder. Think Joe Dumars, Byron Scott, Byron Russell and Ron Harper. Deng is a better defender.

    They are different players. Jordan could do whatever he wanted to with the basketball in his hands. Deng will test him with his strong defense. Eventually, Jordan proves to be too much.

    Michael Jordan 21 – Luol Deng 15

East Bracket: First Round

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    1-Seed: Scottie Pippen vs. 4-Seed: Toni Kukoc

    Ah, Scottie Pippen gets to exact his revenge against Kukoc for being Jerry Krause's favorite player. The game will be close at the outset but eventually, that would change. After a 8-8 tie Pippen will blow this game wide open.

    There is not one skill that Kukoc is better than Pippen at except for long-range shooting. Kukoc enjoys a small edge, connecting on 33.5 percent of his three-point shots vs. 32.6. Pippen is a better ball-handler, defender and would play with a chip on his shoulder.

    This would be a blowout.

    Scottie Pippen 21 – Toni Kukoc 12

     

     

East Bracket: First Round

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    2-Seed: Reggie Theus vs. 3-Seed: Dennis Rodman

    Sometimes a game of 21 is not about who is the better scorer. Every so often, a player wins with a high basketball I.Q. and guile. This describes both players who went about their professional careers differently. The flair they exude on and off the court make this an interesting matchup.

    Theus and Rodman are players with contrasting styles. Theus is a high-volume scorer. Rodman is pound-for-pound the best defender of his era. He can stymie Theus’ mid-range game with his usual brand of in-your-face defense. It is tough to score when you have a player that is stuck to you.

    Theus will try his best but he will fail in the end.

    Dennis Rodman 21 – Reggie Theus 19

East Bracket: Second Round

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    2-Seed: Reggie Theus vs. 3-Seed: Dennis Rodman

    Sometimes a game of 21 is not about who is the better scorer. Every so often, a player wins with a high basketball I.Q. and guile. This describes both players who went about their professional careers differently. The flair they exude on and off the court make this an interesting matchup.

    Theus and Rodman are players with contrasting styles. Theus is a high-volume scorer. Rodman is pound-for-pound the best defender of his era. He can stymie Theus’ mid-range game with his usual brand of in-your-face defense. It is tough to score when you have a player that is stuck to you.

    Theus will try his best but he will fail in the end.

    Dennis Rodman 21 – Reggie Theus 19

Midwest Bracket: First Round

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    1-Seed: Derrick Rose vs. 4-Seed: Orlando Woolridge

    Is it safe to say that pre-injured Derrick Rose would run NBA championship rings around Orlando Woolridge? Woolridge is no slouch, but he is too slow to stay in front of Rose. Fans have not seen Rose play in the last 10 months. This gives Woolridge a puncher’s chance.

    Woolridge was a talented player in his heyday. Drugs and alcohol abuse ruined what could have been a great career.

    On an even playing field, this is one heck of a game: Rose, arguably the most athletic point guard ever to play the position on one end and Woolridge, the gifted scorer who succumbed to his demons on the other.

    Derrick Rose 21 - Orlando Woolridge 18

Midwest Bracket: First Round

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    2-Seed: Bob Love vs. 3-Seed: Horace Grant

    This is as even a matchup as there are in the Bulls’ Sweet 16. They score, defend and rebound well for their respective positions. Love gets the edge in scoring, while Grant is a better defender. This game will turn into which player wants it more.

    Love has the resume as a scorer to win this game but resume alone does not guarantee a win. Grant has championship rings, four of them.

    In the end, Love is slightly better as an overall player and at 6’8”, would not be bothered by Grant’s size (6’10”) advantage.

    Bob Love 21 – Horace Grant 19

Midwest Bracket: Second Round

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    Derrick Rose vs. Bob Love

    Sorry to the Bob Love fans out there. His 17.6 career PPG does not match up well against the lightning quickness of Rose. Throughout his NBA tenure, Rose has made a living of beating bigger defenders off the dribble. Love would be no exception. He does have a slight chance if he can use his superior post game against Rose.

    Rose has improved as a defender of the course of his four NBA seasons. He is vulnerable to the post-up moves of other players but his strength makes up for any shortcomings.

    Love will test Rose early but speed will get the best of him eventually.  

    Derrick Rose 21 – Bob Love 16

West Bracket: First Round

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    1-Seed: Jerry Sloan vs. 4-Seed: Joakim Noah

    The NCAA tournament always has a surprise team who makes the big dance. The Chicago Bulls’ Sweet 16 has its first and only surprise.

    Joakim Noah, the last player selected, edged out Tom Boerwinkle thanks to his NBA All-Star selection. He did not make my original list of top Bulls’ players. This season has become a revelation.

    Not only can Noah play, he is among the best big men in team history. As a reward, he plays the always-tough Jerry Sloan. Sloan’s “No. 4” jersey became the first-ever retired by the Bulls. He earned his top seeding.

    In a ginormous upset, Joakim Noah 21 – Jerry Sloan 17

West Bracket: First Round

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    2-Seed: Artis Gilmore vs. 3-Seed: Chet Walker

    There is not much to say about this pairing. On one hand, you have the greatest center in history of the franchise going up against seven-time NBA All-Star Chet “The Jet” Walker. You could expect Gilmore to punish Walker inside, while Walker takes his shots on the perimeter.

    The real question becomes can Walker keep it close. Gilmore was a great player who would be dominant in era of the league. His greatness will shine here.

    Artis Gilmore 21 – Chet Walker 17

West Bracket: Second Round

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    Artis Gilmore vs. Joakim Noah

    Is it safe to say that this is a battle for supremacy of the Chicago Bulls’ center position? Gilmore is stronger, Noah is quicker. Their career totals suggest that this game would be a cakewalk for Gilmore.

    Gilmore scored 24,941 points and grabbed 16,330 rebounds in his 12-year stint in the Association. Those statistics dwarf Noah’s 3,642 points and 3,542 rebounds. I believe Noah has enough in him to pull an upset. After all, he is a two-time NCAA champion.

    Noah hits a long-range jump shot giving him that coveted Cinderella label.

    Joakim Noah 21 – Artis Gilmore 19

The Final Four: Michael Jordan vs Scottie Pippen

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    Hold onto your seats, you do not want to miss the action.

    The first battle highlights the two greatest players in Chicago Bulls’ history. Several NBA observers from the early 1990s say that the practices between Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were legendary.

    Jordan has the scoring advantage, but Pippen’s defense is fantastic. He can limit Jordan’s drives to the basket and outside looks. Pippen is guaranteed to make Jordan work for every single point.

    Many of us forget how good Pippen was on the offensive end. As the original point-forward, he set Jordan up on a multitude of plays. No one knows how good the “greatest player” (Jordan) would be if Pippen was not there to push him.

    Jordan wins by a nose hair, but this game goes into overtime. In a game of 21, the winner must win by two points.

    Michael Jordan 28 – Scottie Pippen 26

The Final Four: Derrick Rose vs Joakim Noah

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    In the second game, the current faces of the Chicago Bulls take the center stage. Top seed in the Midwest Bracket, Derrick Rose will look to end the West’s fourth-seeded Joakim Noah’s magical run.

    Rose will attack the basket at will if Noah lets him. He will get into the lane for a series of layups before a fed up Noah begins to pound the ball inside. This may turn into a game of H-O-R-S-E before too long.

    While Noah is continually making a name for himself, Rose will be “too big, too strong, too fast and too good” for him.

    Derrick Rose 21 – Joakim Noah 17

The Championship Game: Jordan Era vs Rose Era

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    Now comes the showdown we have all been waiting for. It is the Chicago Bulls’ past taking the court against their present. Michael Jordan, top seed in the South Bracket is licking his chops while waiting for Rose to take off his warmups.

    As the game begins, the lights in the gym go out. A postponement of the Chicago Bulls’ tournament title match is called, thus forcing Bulls’ fans to wait to see who the better player is. After the delay, the game continues. Rose will look to set the pace early with a flurry of jump shots. Jordan will counter with an array of shots of his own.

    Eventually the crowd will realize just how close these players are in terms of talent. Imagine how great of a player Derrick Rose would be if he were 6’6” as Jordan is. Observers would mention him in the same vein as LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

    Rose has the handles, creativity and the leaping ability as Jordan did. He also has the zest to improve his game.

    In a matchup that most people would call a blowout, I’d say it would be fairly close. Jordan wins because he flat-out refuses to lose.

    Michael Jordan 23 – Derrick Rose 21    

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