Self-Inflicted Problems Standing in the Chicago Bulls' Way

Ernest ShepardAnalyst IIIApril 14, 2013

Self-Inflicted Problems Standing in the Chicago Bulls' Way

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    The NBA playoffs are only a week away and there is a lingering question in Chicago: Can the Chicago Bulls make a deep postseason run? Along with that, they are facing several other unanswered questions.

    Clarification is a must between now and the second-season for the Bulls’ unknown entities.

    The year has been a roller-coaster ride. Some of the things that have happened were just short of sideshow status. The problems created though, were self-inflicted.      

    Are you familiar with the phrase “stop standing in your own way”?

    Several issues that the Bulls have had, they can blame themselves. There are clear indications that they keep interrupting their potential success with every problem they conjure up.

    Time is running out to search for solutions. The team must recognize the problems first.

The Perceived Lack of Depth

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    During the offseason, all that the people heard from the Chicago Bulls’ camp was establishing depth would be a hassle.

    First, you had the injury to Derrick Rose. What followed was a series of salary purges.

    C.J. Watson signed with the Brooklyn Nets and the Bulls received no compensation in return.

    Backup center Omer Asik signed an offer sheet to start for the Houston Rockets, yet the Bulls failed to complete a sign-and-trade.

    Trading Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks for a $5 million trade exception was the only transaction the Bulls made regarding a former reserve.    

    They signed low-cost players Nazr Mohammad, Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson and Vladimir Radmanovic to fill up the roster. The moves resembled that of a team just trying to get by.

    To the chagrin of fans and observers alike, the Bulls seemingly gave up on the year.

    As a franchise, it is hard to sell to your fan base the idea that your team is not in rebuilding mode, but they will not be in a position to compete for a championship.

    All of this while holding out hope that Derrick Rose would return in the season. 

Thibodeau Isn’t Resting His Players

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    Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau uses a tight rotation and frankly, he is tiring some of his players out.

    All-Stars Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are among the top 15 in average minutes played.

    While there is no proof that their time on the floor have led to any of the injuries they have had, it is clear that the more that they play, the less likely they will heal.

    Playoff positioning is all that the Bulls can play for now—since their spot is already in tow.

    At the worst, they will finish with the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. The division rival Indiana Pacers await the Bulls in Round 1 if the standings hold firm.

    The best possible finish is the No. 5 seed, which would set up a first-round battle with the Nets.

    In order to have any success, the players have to be rested and ready to play when it counts.

    Deng is tired and he should not be on the court for the remaining games in the regular season, the same must go for Noah.

    Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson are candidates that need rest as well.

    Over the last 10 games, Boozer has averaged 38.1 MPG, Butler has played 43.4 while Robinson has logged 29.7 MPG.

    Now is the time to see Marquis Teague, Daequan Cook and Malcolm Thomas in action.

The Tendency to Follow Up Big Wins With Bad Losses

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    While some of you may consider the Bulls the streak-busters, hold your tongue. Did you know that every time the Bulls have a “big win” that they follow it up with a loss?

    On December 8, they defeated the New York Knicks, who at the time, were winners of five consecutive games. Instead of maintaining momentum, the Bulls lost their next game to the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The next time the Bulls played the Knicks was on December 21. The Bulls took a 110-106 victory but not before nearly coughing up a 25-point lead.

    The win was huge but the Bulls experienced two horrible losses as a follow up. One defeat was to the Hawks, and the second loss was to the Rockets on Christmas.

    Ending winning streaks became the new norm in Chicago as the Bulls upended the 27-game win streak of the Miami Heat. Shortly after that they ended the 13-game win streak of the Knicks.

    How did they follow up those victories?

    The Bulls lost to the Dallas Mavericks and Toronto, respectively.

    For the Bulls, the problem seems to be on concentration and focus.

    Just because you defeated a team like the Heat, doesn't guarantee anything. You have to back wins like that up.

    Two losses to the Washington Wizards, Portland Trailblazers and Raptors this season has played a major role in the race for the division crown.

The Anemic Offense

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    While it is no secret that the Bulls offense struggles at times, how much are they to blame for own their problems?

    Not a single player on the roster is the focal point of the offense. It has been that way ever since Thibodeau began coaching the team.

    Much of the scoring comes from moving the ball around and creating turnovers. There is nothing that they specifically hang their hat on.

    With post players like Boozer and Noah, the Bulls should be an inside-out team.

    They both are a mismatch down in the paint. Unfortunately, the Bulls’ guards do not take advantage of an obvious edge.

    Instead of passing the ball to one of their frontcourt players, the guards rely on dribble penetration. They should instead use more pick-and-roll plays.

    Another problem the Bulls have on offense is their reluctance to ride the hot hand.

    If Carlos Boozer has 18 points by halftime, it is inconceivable that he finishes the game with 24 points, while his shot output is cut in half.

    When that happens, the Bulls have failed at running their offense through its best scoring option in the post.

    For a team that struggles to score, riding a player while he is hot would seemingly be the best way to go. The fact that it hasn't always been the case is a huge problem for the Bulls.

Their Handling of Rose’s Injury

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    Is it just me, or has the coverage of the Derrick Rose recovery from knee surgery become the sideshow to the Chicago Bulls’ circus?

    First, an article from USA Today stating that Rose has said that he will not return until he is 110 percent ready was released.

    That story came and then passed, but Rose’s older brother and manager Reggie spoke out to ESPNChicago.com about the team’s roster moves.

    What came afterwards was Derrick defending his team publicly.

    After that, a source from the organization stated that Rose received the medical clearance (via ESPNChicago.com) to play again. What we are left with is the constant, “will he, won’t he” stories that have left fans resenting the story all together.

     

    Source: Derrick Rose has been cleared to play, but wants to confidently dunk off left foot before returning » es.pn/14DnlqE

    — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 8, 2013

    What the Bulls have not done is to take control of the story before it got out of hand.

    Not only has this done Rose a disservice, it has hurt the rest of the team.

    The healthy players did not deserve the distraction that the story has caused.

    Reggie Rose’s comments came on February 22, the day of the NBA trade deadline. The Bulls have been a below .500 basketball team ever since, with a 12-13 record.

    Beforehand, they were 31-23.

    The team brass should have handled this story, along with the others and nipped it in the bud. Instead, they kept the media frenzy going, leaving Thibodeau to face a litany of questions regarding Rose.

    Thibodeau also deserves better.

    The Bulls have handled this completely wrong. This problem could have led to a worse outcome.

    Credit goes to Thibodeau and the rest of the roster for getting this far.