The Chicago Bulls roster is set for the 2013-14 season, and they could be one of the deepest teams in the Eastern Conference.
However, that doesn't mean their roster is without flaws. There are two slight problems on the team: the backup center position and the lack of a secondary scorer.
Nazr Mohammed will be 36 years old when the 2013-14 season tips off, and we don't know if his body can sustain an 82-game season while playing 15 to 20 minutes per game. Given Joakim Noah's injury history, it might be wise to invest in a younger backup who can play those important minutes on a consistent basis.
The scoring issue isn't as pressing as it has been in the past few years, but it's an issue nonetheless.
Let's take a more in-depth look at these two problems.
This isn't a knock on Mohammed, as he actually did a solid job filling that role toward the tail end of the 2012-13 season, but the Bulls would benefit from having a more versatile center backing up Noah.
After the All-Star break—the period when Mohammed started playing more minutes—he averaged just under five points and five rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Chicago needs a center who can play 15 to 20 minutes on a nightly basis, though, not just in the latter half of the NBA season.
One of the Bulls' goals next season should be to keep their team as healthy as possible, beginning with Noah since he has a bad history of plantar fasciitis.
Chicago still has room to sign another player. With centers like Cole Aldrich and Johan Petro still on the market, it wouldn't be a bad idea to sign one of them, leaving Mohammed as a type of insurance in case of injury.
It looks like the Bulls will move forward with their current roster, however, mainly because they're already in luxury-tax territory. Signing a player now would be more expensive than signing him later on in the season with multiple 10-day contracts or a non-guaranteed contract, like they did with Malcolm Thomas.
Mohammed is confident he can get the job done, though. During an interview with Bulls.com, the 15-year veteran told Sam Smith he's the man for the job:
That’s how I look at it, that the Bulls have one of the best backup centers in the league. I think I’ve proven when given the opportunity, when called upon, that I did a solid job... I’m not athletic or real fast. But I feel at the same time I’ve always gotten the job done, always contributed to my team. I think basketball people see that.
The Bulls' center position is one to keep an eye on next year.
Lack of Another Go-To Guy
D-Rose is back and ready to fill the scoring void he left the Bulls with last season. They'll be glad to have their main scorer back; unfortunately, they still lack a second option.
Carlos Boozer is solid when he's in rhythm, but he can also be inconsistent, often leaving Rose as the only player who can score on his own.
While Butler is a good player and has tremendous upside, he hasn't shown that he's a scoring guard (8.6 points per game in the regular season). He has the speed and athleticism to be one, but his ball-handling skills aren't where they need to be for him to take that step.
On one-on-one situations, Butler often relies on a two- or three-dribble drive followed by a step-back jumper that isn't very consistent. Maybe he's added some new moves to his repertoire during the summer, but until he shows it, the Bulls could still be in need of a second scoring threat.
Rose can't afford to see double-teams at the end of games. It could cause an offensive breakdown, leaving him in a situation many Bulls fans know too well: 10 seconds or less left on the shot clock with Rose just a few steps past the half-court line, and a second defender ready to take him on.
The Bulls signed Mike Dunleavy and drafted a few shooters to counter this, but they'd also benefit from someone attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line. Butler showed he could be that guy during last year's playoffs (13.3 PPG), and if he can be, the Bulls could be on their way to an NBA title.
Most of the problems Chicago had last season will be solved with Rose's return. He'll run the offense well, create for himself and others, and score when called upon.
The Bulls' center issue could be harmful if either Noah or Mohammed get hurt. Having a thin frontcourt proved to be problematic for them, and the only big they added was Erik Murphy, who might not play many minutes.
Lacking a second option was the Bulls' biggest weakness over the last three years, and they still don't have one. While the front office has made some moves to make up for that, it could potentially hurt them once the postseason comes around, especially in the later rounds.
Chicago clearly believes it can win with this roster, and arguably, this is the best roster it's had in recent history. Fans will just have to hope these two issues don't arise and damage their playoff run.