6 Things Every Fan Needs to Know About the Chicago Bulls for the 2013-14 Season
This new beginning marks the point in the fans’ collective conscious where the ups and downs of last season are pushed out to make room for the new season’s expectations.
Long-time followers will scour sports websites and periodicals looking for any breaking news that hints at good times ahead.
Casual fans will begin to notice that the team they love to check in with from time to time is starting to pop up more frequently throughout their day.
There will even be some new admirers who have heard the commotions of last season’s story lines and decided to see what all the fuss is about.
Whatever sub-grouping any fan may fall under, may this piece serve as the starting point in what will hopefully be a great 2013-14 NBA season for the See Red Nation.
So, in the name of every fan’s quest to whet their appetite for all things related to Chicago basketball, here are some things everyone should know about the Bulls this season.
1. The Fans Are Hardcore
Last season the Bulls led the NBA in home-game attendance.
What’s even more impressive is that the entirety of last season was played without Derrick Rose.
As a matter of fact, you'd have to go back to 2008-09 to get a year where this team did not lead the league for packing the house.
This is just a one example of how supportive the Bulls’ fan base is.
According to the team’s NBA.com blog, there was once a 610 consecutive home-game sell-out streak that lasted from the 1987 season all the way up to November 3, 2000.
Chi-town loves basketball, and the high level of play that has been exhibited in the first three seasons of the Tom Thibodeau era continues to give fans ever more reasons to perpetuate their support.
If the accomplishments of recent years start to build on and surpass themselves, this team will be due for another decade-plus streak.
If you are ever able to score last-minute tickets to a Bulls game, consider yourself very lucky.
The Bulls Have the Best Mascot in the Country
What’s a better fit for the team that has the league’s most present fans? How about America’s favorite mascot?
This past May, Benny the Bull was voted “American’s Most Popular Mascot” in an annual survey done by The Marketing Arm’s Davie Brown Index.
The survey is based on fan input, which adds a bit of credibility to the title.
Anyone who has ever attended a Bulls game has been thoroughly entertained by Benny’s antics.
His gravity-defying aerial acrobatics and crowd interaction are top notch, but the entertainment value is not just limited to the court.
If you are one of his 17,000 followers on Twitter then you have seen Benny post some very witty and humorous things while chronicling his adventures with the NBA’s outreach promotions.
With the cleverness that he packs into those 140 characters, it’s easy to see that the person behind the mask loves the job, and it comes out in everything that big red bull does.
This Team Is Stingy
The Bulls’ bread and butter has always been winning by stopping the other team from executing, and they do that well.
In the 2009-10 season, the year before Thibodeau became head coach, Chicago ranked 12th in opponent’s points allowed.
That’s definitely not a bad statistic when you consider that’s out of 30 total teams, but it certainly lacked the championship grit that fans had been longing for since the days of Phil, Mike and Scottie.
Although there have been some capable offensive players who have played under Thibodeau, the Bulls have never been a dynamic offensive team with the exception of Derrick Rose.
This team’s defensive prowess more than makes up for their lack of proficient scoring.
The Bulls stifle their opponents with efficient rotation, great help defense and outstanding rebounding.
While they may struggle to score, their ability to prevent the other team from scoring always gives them a chance to pull out a win.
Kirk Hinirich Is a Top 10 Franchise Player in 12 Statistical Categories
Hinrich’s name may not come up if the topic of conversation is about naming great Bulls players, but he ranks in the top 10 of a dozen different all-time team categories.
When a guy plays 574 games for one team, that’s including the playoffs, starting 524 of them he has to rank high on some kind of list.
The most notable of Hinrich’s team rankings are fourth in total assists with 3,318, fourth in assists per game with 5.8, fourth with 718 total steals and first in three-point field goals made/attempted knocking in 883 out of 2,326 attempts.
Currently in his second stint with the team, those are the kind of numbers any fan would like to see from a guy who is now the backup guard.
While Hinrich’s highlight reel may not consist of any awe-inspiring moves, his franchise rankings are indicative of the hard work he puts in night in and night out.
What’s even better is that his work ethic is a microcosm of the entire team.
Just like Hinrich, everyone works hard and gives their all game after game.
There’s no reason to think that this hustle won’t be the standard this season, which bodes very well.
The Bulls' Three-Point Shooting Will Improve This Season
Chicago shot an abysmal 35.3 percent in three-pointers last season. That was good enough for 20th in the league.
If the rankings were readjusted for shots made and attempted they would be number 29, bested only by the Memphis Grizzlies.
This team is about to get a lot better from beyond the arc thanks to the addition of Mike Dunleavy.
Dunleavy is a career 37.2 percent three-point shooter and shot a career best 42.8 percent last season.
Granted, one player is not going to turn around an entire phase of the game for a team, but when you consider the emergence of Jimmy Butler and the drafting of Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, it is hard to deny that Chicago is poised for a bounce back season from long range.
Last season, Butler shot a modest 38.1 percent from downtown, but he kicked that up notch to 40.5 in the postseason.
If the work he put in to gain that attribute was put of his regiment this past summer the Butler should be a legitimate threat.
Snell and Murphy were chosen specifically their shooting abilities.
Now this team is armed with capable shooters. With proper spacing and ball movement, the Bulls can make a lot of teams' lives very difficult.
Derrick Rose Is Back
Rose missed the entire 2012-13 season to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs.
The longer time passed without Rose suiting up to play, the more the criticisms started to mount.
One of the most notable digs came from former Bulls guard Steve Kerr who thought Rose should have at least returned during the postseason.
Kerr cited other Bulls players who were suffering through injuries as his reason to think that Rose owed it to his teammates to come back.
Not to be deterred, the organization circled the wagons around their MVP and told the critics to back off.
Eventually, Rose had to admit that his selfishness was absolutely necessary and hopes that his performance this upcoming season will validate his choice to not play last year.
That chance at redemption will soon come.
When you think about the impact his return is bound to have, the name Rose seems very appropriate.
To his teammates his game is a thing of beauty meant to be admired, much like the flower that shares his name.
To his opponents he is a thorn that will draw blood whenever handled incorrectly.
The hometown hero is back and ready to show that his game has gears that you never knew existed.
Because of that, this season will be the one where hardcore fans will be rewarded, casual fans will be converted and new fans will wonder why they did not get on board sooner.