The Chicago Bulls were unable to show their full potential last season due to injury, but now that everyone is healthy, they'll look to make a title run in 2013-14.
There aren't many changes the Bulls need to make. Under Tom Thibodeau's coaching, they'll remain a top-10 rebounding team and one of the elite defensive units. It's that style of hard-nosed basketball that will push the Bulls above the Miami Heat.
However, taking advantage of some of their assets will help Chicago become a little less one-dimensional.
With Derrick Rose back, not only are the Bulls adding a primary scorer, but also someone who can run the floor and finish at the rim. There are also players on the roster that could be used slightly more or in a different way.
The Bulls' strategic changes start with one thing:
Push the Ball
Chicago is a half-court team; there's no changing that. Now that Rose is back, though, the Bulls might want to take advantage of that and run the floor a little more than they have in the past.
Throughout the 2012-13 season, the Bulls averaged just 89.3 possessions per game and scored just under 10 fast-break points per game, per TeamRankings. The previous season, their possessions per game were essentially the same, but the team had a top-15 average in fast-break points.
Now that the Bulls have quality shooters on the roster, they should aim to surpass that 2011-12 figure. They have the personnel to be a very dangerous open-floor team and should take advantage of it.
The Bulls will always be a half-court team and will prefer to run their sets more often than running the floor, but when the opportunity arises, they should look to push the ball, especially now that they have a great ball-handler that can lead the way.
Post Up Carlos Boozer More Often
If the Bulls decide to waive off the fast-break opportunity, they can go to one of the better post players in the league: Carlos Boozer. One of Boozer's biggest strengths is his ability to shoot from mid-range, but that may be causing the Bulls to use him less in the post.
Boozer has an array of moves once he's established in the low block: He can go over and under, fake one way and follow it with a quick spin in the other direction, shoot a fade away or simply bully his way into the paint.
Per Synergy, 33 percent of Boozer's plays came in the post, shooting 43.7 percent in those occasions. Thirty-three percent seems like a good amount for a player that also likes to play outside, but Boozer shot just 39 percent on shots 10 feet and farther from the rim.
This is easier said than done, however. Boozer constantly draws double teams, which is one of the reasons he settles for jumpers.
This is where the Bulls' new additions come in handy.
Boozer will be surrounded by good perimeter shooters this season, so even if he's being doubled in the post, he should be able to make the defense pay by finding the open player. If the Bulls can increase their usage of Boozer in the post from 33 to somewhere between 36 and 40, it could give the Bulls a more efficient offense.
Utilize More Small-Ball Lineups
It might be a little hard to call a lineup of Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Deng and Noah "small," but a set like this could help the Bulls stretch the floor for some Rose isolations and add some shooting options.
The Bulls have a lot of versatility at each position; Thibodeau said it best in an interview with Grantland's Zach Lowe:
Jimmy, Luol, Mike Dunleavy, and Tony Snell — all four are capable of playing 2 [shooting guard], 3 [small forward], and even some 4 [power forward]. Hinrich and Derrick can both play the point and the 2. Taj and Joakim can play both the 4 and 5 [center]... when teams go small against us, we can remain big and maybe get an advantage on the boards. We like that. But Luol does give us the option to go small and get more shooting on the floor.
Like Thibodeau said, going small still leaves some decent size on the floor, while adding more offense. With the number of teams using these small-ball lineups, the Bulls can use their own version to try to have an upper hand.
All three of these strategies should be used in moderation, though.
The Bulls may not have had the most explosive or dynamic offense over the past few seasons, but it led them to consecutive years as the league's best record holder in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The Bulls will be known as an elite defensive and rebounding team, but applying some of these strategies throughout the year could help them establish themselves as a potent offense.