Heading into training camp, there are unsolved mysteries associated with the Chicago Bulls. For example, everybody knows the starting five will consist of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. But it's a bit unclear what the rotation will look like.
Will rookies Tony Snell and Erik Murphy make the rotation, even though coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't typically use first-year players? Thibs obviously has some decisions to make, just like any other coach in the Association.
The Bulls have 12 players under contract and need at least one more before the regular season begins.
Chicago signed Mike James, Dexter Pittman, Patrick Christopher and Kalin Lucas to non-guaranteed training camp deals. We'll see if one of the quartet actually makes the Bulls "real" roster. Perhaps Pittman has the best chance, seeing that another center is needed behind Noah and Nazr Mohammed.
What are the biggest Bulls-related mysteries that need to be solved by the end of camp?
Will Marquis Teague's Summer League Play Carry Over?
Marquis Teague appeared lost and confused during last year's NBA Summer League. He looked as if he should've stayed in college for another year or two rather than play with the big boys.
This year's Summer League was a completely different story, though, as he averaged 18.3 points and 4.8 assists per game. His best performance of the event came against the Portland Trail Blazers when he put up 25 points. Take a look here:
Notice how Teague gets to the basket with ease, leaving his defenders in the dust. He also showcased the ability to set up his teammates, and his jumper has improved quite a bit. He actually hit all three of his long-range attempts. Sure, it was only Summer League ball and not the Eastern Conference Finals, but impressive nonetheless.
Teague rarely saw the court as a rookie last season, averaging 8.2 minutes per game in 48 contests. Fortunately, his role should increase this upcoming season, as he's expected to become Rose's primary backup at point guard. Hopefully he handles the pressure and manages to do a superb job off Chicago's re-tooled bench. A breakout sophomore season could very well be in store.
Did Jimmy Butler Improve His Offense?
Jimmy Butler is one of the Bulls' most valuable players due to his lockdown defense. Last season, he earned the nickname "Kobe Stopper" for his D on Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. And he did a fantastic job on the Miami Heat's LeBron James during the playoffs.
Before his career comes to an end, "Jimmy Buckets" could wind up making a ton of NBA All-Defensive teams. But he can develop into an All-Star if makes an improvement on the offensive end of the floor.
Heading in to the offseason, Butler needed to upgrade his ball-handling skills and learn how to create his own shot. He possesses a tireless work ethic, so it's safe to say that he spends countless hours working on his game.
Rose will garner most of the attention during Chicago's training camp. However, fans will have their eyes on Butler as well, watching to see if he has become a better offensive player.
The former Marquette star had a remarkable 2012-13 season after riding the bench as a rookie. Look for him to have an ever more remarkable 2013-14 campaign, emerging as a legit candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player Award.
Is Derrick Rose Back to Normal?
April 28, 2012 was a sad, very sad day for Chicago sports fans. It was the opening game of a playoff series between the Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers. And although the Bulls won the contest, they lost their franchise player Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL during the fourth quarter.
Rose, of course, would miss the remainder of the postseason as well as the entire 2012-13 campaign. Thankfully, he'll return to the hardwood this season and sport a red and black jersey instead of street clothes.
The three-time All-Star is on a mission to prove he's the same larger-than-life superstar that he was before the injury. In case you just started following the Bulls last season, here's a video that shows what kind of player he is when healthy:
Exciting and unstoppable should be the first two words that come to mind.
Medically cleared to play late last season, Rose decided against returning due to not being 100 percent healthy. Is he back to his old self now? You'll know for sure if he's breaking defenders' ankles with his ridiculous crossover dribble and scoring at will. And if you're witnessing breath-taking dunks and insane reverse layups, he's definitely back to MVP form.