Final Regular Season Grades for Every Chicago Bulls Player
It was a roller coaster of a season for the Chicago Bulls, but they willed and fought their way to a top-four seed in the playoffs.
The Bulls got off to a slow start this year. Reintegrating Derrick Rose after he missed an entire season took some time, but few doubted that he'd ultimately regain his form.
On Nov. 22, Rose tore his meniscus and was forced to miss the rest of the season, generating a sense of deja vu throughout Chicago. Luol Deng was traded a few weeks later to the Cleveland Cavaliers, leaving the Bulls with just one All-Star.
That All-Star is Joakim Noah, and he did what many Bulls fans expected: He put the team on his back and carried it to the playoffs.
He didn't do it on his own, of course.
Taj Gibson also helped lead the charge off the bench, leading the team in scoring and playing defense at an elite level. Chicago signed point guard D.J. Augustin as insurance, and it paid off. He became the Bulls' most explosive scorer and provided them with the spark they needed to overcome the loss of Rose and Deng.
Chicago finished with a 48-34 record and the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
As we put a lid on the regular season and prepare for the postseason, let's evaluate each player's performance, taking into consideration individual development, overall production and recent accomplishments.
It was a very disappointing season for the former league MVP.
A strong preseason had many believing Rose would regain his form and perhaps be even better than prior seasons. He played 10 games before tearing his meniscus and being ruled out for the season.
This marked the third injury-plagued season for Rose, and he has now played in just 49 of 230 regular-season games over the last three years.
Rose struggled to get into a rhythm when the regular season tipped off, but he had started to pick things up over his last five games. He posted two 20-point games in that span and had a monster game against the Bulls’ Central Division rival Indiana Pacers, connecting on six threes as he led the Bulls to a 16-point win.
Undoubtedly, it has been a rough few years for the star point guard. But coach Tom Thibodeau reiterates that his rehab is going well, and there’s a chance Rose could play this summer for Team USA, per ESPN.com.
It would surely be a step in the right direction as the Bulls hope to compete for a title in 2014-15.
Final Grade: C+
Jimmer Fredette got his first chance to play extended minutes against the Orlando Magic on April 14, scoring 17 points off the bench on 50 percent shooting.
His three-point shot wasn't a highlight as he went 1-of-5, but the one aspect of his game that stood out was his defense. He did a great job of moving his feet and staying in front of his assignment.
There were some mistakes here and there, but given it was his first time playing 30-plus minutes this season—and on a new team, no less—it was a solid effort by the third-year guard.
Fredette gave us a very small sample size, but if Chicago wants to improve its roster, keeping him around for the future as a three-point specialist is not the worst idea.
Final Grade: B-
Nazr Mohammed was a solid backup yet again for Chicago. While he played very limited minutes, he was still a solid defender and rim protector.
Mohammed’s ability to knock down 12-foot jump shots also was useful as it allowed Gibson or Carlos Boozer to work near the rim with good spacing.
The Chicago native wasn't a game-changer, but he provided a physical and veteran presence that would be of value to any team around the league.
As the Bulls head into the playoffs, Mohammed could play a small role in that he can play physical with opposing bigs without worrying about picking up multiple fouls.
Final Grade: C
Rookie guard Tony Snell got a unique opportunity to play during his debut season, something rarely seen under Tom Thibodeau's tutelage.
Snell was drafted to improve Chicago's poor three-point shooting, and while he had a hard time finding the range, he showed that he was effective when putting the ball on the floor. He could turn into a key player for the Bulls in the near future as their main necessities are ball-handlers and scorers.
The former New Mexico Lobo also showed great defensive potential. He has excellent length for his position, and has the quickness and footwork to stick with his assignments.
His size could also allow him to guard multiple positions, although he'd have to bulk up to guard bigger forwards.
Snell may not play a big role this postseason, but he has a bright future if he can continue to improve in all facets.
Final Grade: C+
Mike Dunleavy has had some great moments with the Bulls this year.
From his game-winning banker three against his former Milwaukee Bucks team, to his outburst against the Houston Rockets after suffering a laceration above his eye, Dunleavy has lived up to expectations and even surpassed them at times.
Dunleavy has been more than just a sharpshooter. He's shown he has an all-around game, driving to the basket, finding the open cutter near the basket and rebounding at a solid rate (four per game).
The former Duke star also posted his highest scoring total since the 2007-08 season and played his first full season in as many years.
Chicago also asked Dunleavy to do more than initially expected. The 12-year vet started 61 games for the Bulls, averaging 12 points on 33.7 minutes in those starts.
There is no doubt Dunleavy can step up to the challenge, and he will have to do so again during the postseason as the Bulls will need his long-range shooting.
Final Grade: B
"Captain Kirk" won't wow anybody with his offense, but his veteran leadership and savvy point-guard play and defensive skills make him a valuable asset in Chicago.
Hinrich does a good job setting up the offense, and while he's limited to mostly jump shots and spot-up threes, he is also often a catalyst for the Bulls when they are struggling.
It's not often that Hinrich explodes offensively—he has no 20-point games this year—but in games where he scored 10 or more points, the Bulls were 25-10. It says a lot about what a small uptick in production from Hinrich means to Chicago.
Hinrich's defense was his key asset, though, as he can defend both guard positions and even some small forwards. That kind of versatility is essential, especially since the Bulls play Augustin and Hinrich together for extended periods.
Some may be frustrated by Hinrich's lack of production, but he means a lot more to the Bulls than can be shown in a box score.
Final Grade: B
It certainly wasn't Boozer's best year; his offense was inconsistent, and he remained a below average defender.
The 12-year vet posted a career low in field-goal percentage (45 percent) and had his second-worst outputs in points and minutes per game.
Boozer lost significant minutes during the second half of the season due to his poor defense but also because Taj Gibson was simply playing better and was more effective on both ends of the floor.
Whether or not Boozer will play crunch-time minutes in the postseason remains to be seen, but the one thing Boozer can expect is that his offense will be needed.
Even though Gibson is much better defender—and in most cases, better offensively—Boozer's versatility remains a threat. And one of his most underrated assets—his passing—is something Gibson doesn’t quite have yet.
Boozer struggled mightily this season, but he could turn it around with a strong postseason.
Final Grade: C+
Jimmy Butler's season had a few bumps in the road as he dealt with minor injuries, but he still put together a career year.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Butler struggled in the early going offensively. His shot wasn’t falling and he settled for long attempts.
As the season progressed, though, he started attacking the basket more frequently. In March, Butler attempted 93 free throws. It’s no coincidence that it was also his highest scoring month of the season.
Where Butler really shined was on the defensive end. He finished the season sixth in steals per game and held opponents to 39 percent shooting, per Synergy.
Butler’s perimeter defense, paired with his knack for forcing turnovers, is among the best in the league. Like teammates Gibson and Noah, he is a candidate to land on an NBA All-Defensive team, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe suggests he should.
Final Grade: B
Augustin didn't play all 82 games with Chicago, but he still managed to place second in assists and fifth in scoring on the team.
The Bulls got the pickup of the year with the former Longhorn, as he kept their season afloat after losing Rose and Deng.
Augustin picked up the offense almost instantly, something rarely seen with mid-season acquisitions for the Bulls—or any team for that matter—and quickly became the Bulls' best scoring option.
From his consistent three-point shot (41 percent) to his acrobatic finishes around the rim, the explosive point guard became a No. 1 option on many possessions. Augustin finished the season averaging a hair under 15 points per game, the highest from any active player on the roster.
Augustin will have a key role in Chicago's postseason.
As the one player who can create a shot from the perimeter, as well as the team's best three-point shooter, his scoring and efficiency is going to be vital. Along with his ability to score in transition, if he can turn it up another notch during the playoffs, the Bulls have a chance to make a solid run.
Final Grade: A
Gibson came into this season with a vastly improved offensive game. It was on full display all year long, and it led to him becoming Chicago's leading scorer this season with 1,069 points.
His offense improved so much, that he began cutting into Boozer's minutes because he was no longer an offensive liability. Really, he was a better option, shooting 48 percent from the floor compared to Boozer's 45.
The fifth-year forward's biggest improvement came in the post. He developed several moves, from fakes to up-and-unders to spins and a faceup game as well.
Gibson flourished defensively as well. He was in the top 10 in blocked shots and fourth in opponent field-goal percentage near the rim among those in the top 10, per NBA.com.
Gibson put together a career year, and it could culminate with a couple of NBA honors, like the Sixth Man of the Year Award and possibly a spot on an All-Defensive Team.
Final Grade: A
Noah was an absolute beast this year for the Bulls.
Despite losing the top-two players on the roster, Noah took his game to a new level and posted career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
He led the NBA’s top-ranked scoring defense and is one of the favorites to win this year’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. He’s also in the running for the league’s All-NBA first team.
Noah became a triple-double threat every night over the past two months, averaging double-digit points, rebounds and more than seven assists per game. The way Noah sees the floor and executes his laser-accurate passes is better than most guards in the league and easily the best among his position.
The seven-year center will lead the charge as Chicago heads into the playoffs to face the Washington Wizards in the first round.
With his and Thibodeau’s leadership, the Bulls could go a long way in the postseason. You can bet that wherever Chicago ends up, Noah will be at the forefront.
Final Grade: A+
Note: All stats gathered from basketball-reference.com unless otherwise stated.
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