The Chicago Bulls have added a few pieces this offseason that will place them back into title contention.
Chicago was able to capture the No. 5 seed last year even with a myriad of injuries down the stretch. It's a testament to how hard this team works and to Tom Thibodeau's excellent job as a head coach.
The Bulls are expected to be back among the two top teams in the Eastern Conference and perhaps also as the team that will dethrone the Miami Heat.
Mike Dunleavy was signed to be the Bulls' main three-point specialist, but they also made sure to bring in shooters through the draft with Tony Snell and Erik Murphy.
Jimmy Butler has also been confirmed as a starter, giving Chicago their best 2-guard in quite some time.
Still, no addition is bigger than the return of Derrick Rose. The Bulls will get their dynamic scorer and leader back, giving them a whole new look offensively.
Rose is coming back to a much better team than the one he last played with. Joakim Noah is playing at an all-star level and is arguably the league's most complete center, and Butler has the potential to be a great complement to Rose.
The biggest change, however, is that when Rose finds himself in trouble, he can now dish it out to one of the many three-point shooters Chicago has added.
The Bulls addressed their needs this offseason, and Rose is icing on the cake, but how exactly will these improvements make them an elite team again?
It's clear that the Bulls' main priority this summer was to add perimeter shooting. They decided to let Marco Belinelli walk and instead signed Dunleavy to a two-year deal.
Dunleavy shot 43 percent from downtown last season, making him the eighth most efficient three-point shooter.
With Rose back in the mix, the Bulls will have plenty of good looks behind the arc. Whenever defenses send a double-team his way (or Carlos Boozer's way), the Bulls will now have shooters surrounding them ready to knock down a three.
Chicago will have plenty of options too.
Aside from Dunleavy, the Bulls have their rookies Snell and Murphy, Butler (an improved shooter) and Kirk Hinrich. If Rose's jump shot has improved as much as he says it has, then he could also become a threat from downtown.
The Bulls will continue to play inside-out, but now that they can stretch the floor, their offense could turn out to be more effective and efficient.
Jimmy Butler Is the 2-Guard
Keith Bogans just couldn't get the job done, and the Rip Hamilton experiment failed due to his constant injuries.
Well, Jimmy Buckets is here to save the day.
Butler is the best 2-guard the Bulls have had since Ben Gordon left for Detroit in 2009. He might not be the scorer Gordon was, but he still has a solid offensive game that continues to develop and is quickly becoming one of the league's best perimeter defenders.
The one thing Butler has to do is get to the free-throw line. There won't be many plays ran for him with Rose, Boozer and Luol Deng taking a majority of the shots, so he'll have to make the most of his opportunities.
If Butler can get to the line at least five or six times per game and hit threes on a consistent basis—similar to the tail end of the 2012-13 season—this Bulls offense could be the best in the Thibodeau era.
How many teams are adding a former MVP to their starting lineup next season?
D-Rose will make his long-awaited return this season and he could be better than ever. He's had well over a year to work on his game and great things are expected of his restored self: His jump shot has improved, he's stronger and he is finally at 100 percent.
Now he just has to show it.
Rose will give the Bulls 20-plus points per game, over seven assists and more importantly, someone who can create offense for himself. He'll also get to the line consistently and draw more defensive attention than any other player on the roster.
Prior to his ACL injury during last years' playoffs, the Bulls were regarded as the only team that could take down Miami. Chicago had the best record in the NBA for the second consecutive year and looked unstoppable in Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
That's the kind of year the Bulls should have again barring any major injuries.
Rose will also help the Bulls defensively. According to 82games.com, opposing point guards posted a PER of 11 against him during 2011-12. Last season, Hinrich and Nate Robinson allowed PERs of 18.8 and 14.3 versus point guards, respectively.
We just have to hope Rose can prove he is the best player in the league.
Chicago will enter the 2013-14 season with a chip on its shoulder. The Heat have eliminated them from the playoffs twice now, and you can bet Noah, Rose and co. aren't the least bit happy about it.
Thibodeau's team will be one of the top defensive and rebounding teams once again. If everybody fills their role correctly, they could also be one of the top offensive units.
The Bulls have a superstar point guard, solid perimeter shooting, a suffocating defense and are quietly building a pretty deep bench with Hinrich and Taj Gibson leading the way.
Chicago is built to be a top seed in the East with a chance to knock out Miami.
If they can make that final hurdle, there's no reason the Bulls can't hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy next June.
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