Predicting the Stats of the Chicago Bulls' Starting Lineup in 2013-14
The Chicago Bulls are one of the teams that didn't make much noise in the offseason—something that they've become accustomed to doing in the past few years. Instead of making any drastic changes to their roster, they're banking on their acquisition of a few role players and the return of Derrick Rose to lead them back to championship contention.
Next season, the Bulls' core of players is still intact. Rose will presumably be back when the season starts, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are coming off All-Star seasons, and Carlos Boozer is still Carlos Boozer.
With Rose returning and Jimmy Butler's unexpected rise to relevancy, there would be a shift of power in the starting lineup. Last season with Rose out and Butler still learning, the frontcourt took the majority of the responsibilities. Now with Butler and Rose being the primary players, the Bulls' play style would have a new dimension.
Predicted 2013-14 stats: 24.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 8.3 APG, 1.3 steals per game, .452 field goal percentage, .372 three-point percentage, 36.8 minutes per game
Rose hasn't played in a real NBA game in over a year, but he's had more than enough time to recover and get back into form. When he steps onto the floor next season, he will pick up right where he left off before his injury.
His scoring average will be right where it was in his MVP year, and so will his playing time. The one notable improvement will be his three-point accuracy. According to Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times, Rose had made significant improvements in his perimeter shooting during the time he spent recovering from his ACL.
Although it's possible that Rose could average more points next season, his new perimeter sidekick—Butler—will surely get some more opportunities as the starting shooting guard for years to come. As a result, his assist average will see a slight increase as well.
Predicted 2013-14 stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.1 steals per game, 0.8 blocks per game, .484 field goal percentage, .402 three-point field goal percentage, 37.5 minutes per game
As I mentioned earlier, Butler has secured himself the starting shooting guard position for years to come. At the end of the 2012-13 regular season, Butler started the final 14 games and averaged a mind-boggling 42.4 minutes per game (per Basketball Reference).
For a player who averaged just 8.5 minutes per game just one season before, that drastic increase in playing time seems unbelievable. However, that just goes to show Butler's rapid improvement and Tom Thibodeau's trust in the second-year guard out of Marquette.
In those 14 games at the end of last season, Butler averaged 14.5 points per game on an otherworldly 52.8 percent three-point percentage. He probably won't be able to repeat those performances, especially since Rose will take away some of those opportunities, but the future is looking bright for Butler.
Predicted 2013-14 stats: 14.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 steals per game, 0.5 blocks per game, .446 field goal percentage, .354 three-point field goal percentage, 36.2 minutes per game
Luol Deng has been the model of consistency for the last several years.
Well, at least that's what his numbers show. Deng will continue to do what he does best next season. He will spend time guarding the opposing team's best wing players and try to add some points on the board at the other end of the floor.
Deng won't be called upon to play the ridiculous 39.1 minutes per game that he's been averaging for the past three seasons, partly because Butler could take some of the defensive pressure off of him.
With Rose back, the Bulls have a legitimate playmaker who commands double teams on almost every possession, so Deng should see a slight increase in his field goal percentage. For comparison, Deng has shot 46 percent from the field during the three seasons when Rose was healthy, but only 42 percent during Rose's injury-plagued 2011-12 season and his sidelined 2012-13 season.
Predicted 2013-14 stats: 15.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.7 steals per game, 0.4 blocks per game, .525 field goal percentage, 31.4 minutes per game
Boozer hasn't exactly lived up to his expectations after signing a massive contract with the Bulls three years ago (via ESPN), but he's still a scoring threat in the post and his most recent postseason performance has brushed off some of the criticism.
Regardless, Boozer will still perform like he always does. He has been an effective rebounder for his whole career, recording 11.0 rebounds per 36 minutes and a total rebounding rate of 18.0 percent.
His role in 2013-14 will be no different than his role in the last three seasons. He will be efficient in scoring the ball and pick his spots wisely, but will remain a slow-footed defender and struggle at adapting to different matchups.
Predicted 2013-14 stats: 10.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.1 steals per game, 2.2 blocks per game, .501 field goal percentage, 35.4 minutes per game
Noah had a career season in 2012-13, which saw him earn his first selection to the All-Star team and emerge as one of the best all-around defenders in the league.
Next season, Noah will pick up right where he left off.
His scoring opportunities might see a slight decrease, but he will still do everything else. He rebounds at a ferocious rate, stuffs the stat sheet with steals and blocks, creates a bunch of deflections and hustle plays on a nightly basis and displays his court vision as one of the best passing centers in the league.
Noah is a special kind of player, and that's what he brings to the table. He should be set for another great season, barring any nagging injuries.