Early Predictions for Chicago Bulls' Starting 5 Next Season
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The Chicago Bulls possess solid bench players like Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich, and their starting lineup is one of the best in the business.
What five players will start for coach Tom Thibodeau's Bulls squad next season? Will free-agent acquisition Mike Dunleavy Jr. or rookie Tony Snell grab a spot?
Derrick Rose, the face of the franchise, missed all of last season as he recovered from knee surgery. The Bulls overachieved without the former MVP, picking up 45 victories and knocking off the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. They even managed to steal Game 1 of the Miami Heat series.
With Rose's return next season, the Bulls should emerge as legit title contenders and give the Heat a run for their money.
Here are Rose and the rest of Chicago's 2013-14 starting five.
Point Guard: Derrick Rose
Bulls fans were certainly tired of seeing Derrick Rose in street clothes. Luckily, they'll get to see him sport a Bulls uniform once again next season.
The Bulls missed his scoring and playmaking. And the United Center crowd missed his sensational reverse layups and jaw-dropping dunks.
When healthy, Rose is perhaps the best point guard on the planet. No disrespect to Chris Paul or Deron Williams, of course.
Rose is simply unstoppable. His crossover is lethal, and he can get to the hoop with ease.
While an ACL injury is serious indeed, it won't prevent him from remaining one of the league's top-five players.
Shooting Guard: Jimmy Butler
The Bulls have been looking for a quality starting shooting guard for a while. They thought Richard Hamilton was that guy when they acquired him two offseasons ago. Unfortunately, his Chicago career turned out to be filled with injuries.
Jimmy Butler, who is set to enter his third NBA season, will start at shooting guard unless a guy like Monta Ellis is picked up.
Butler has the potential to be the perfect backcourt mate for Rose. Already an outstanding defender, he can develop into an All-Star if his ball-handling improves and he learns to create his own shot.
Don't be surprised if "Jimmy Buckets" has an unbelievable 2014 campaign for the Bulls.
Small Forward: Luol Deng
Luol Deng's name is mentioned in trade talk each and every year. It looks as if the two-time All-Star will play another year in the Windy City, though.
That's good news for the Bulls. Deng, who plays lockdown D on a nightly basis, is an excellent two-way player and the ultimate glue guy.
Deng's scoring average of 16.5 points per game led the Bulls last season. Those numbers should decrease with Rose back in the lineup, yet he should have another productive campaign for the Bulls.
With his contract expiring next summer, this could be Deng's final season as a Bull. Will he help the club win a title before he departs?
Power Forward: Carlos Boozer
Like Deng, Carlos Boozer could be headed for his last season in red and black. There's a possibility that the Bulls will amnesty him next summer, which would help free up cap space to sign a free agent like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony.
Some Bulls fans wouldn't mind seeing Boozer pack his bags and bolt town right away. Sure, he's not an elite defender by any stretch, but somebody who averages roughly 16 points and 10 boards a game is valuable.
Boozer put together several big-time performances last season, and look for him to have a few more this coming year.
He isn't the most popular player in Chicago, but he's far from a scrub.
Center: Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah is coming off the best season of his professional career. The former Florida Gator averaged 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, an awfully-impressive four assists and 2.1 blocks per game. He also made his first-ever All-Star appearance.
While he isn't going to give you close to 20 points a night like Brook Lopez or Dwight Howard, Noah is the league's most complete center. He can score, rebound, block shots, pass and knock down the mid-range J. There's not much he can't do on the court.
Hopefully, the injury-prone big man can have a healthy 2013-14 season. The Bulls can't win a championship without his presence in the middle.