I'm sorry Bulls fans. I truly am.
The continuing post-MJ era has brought some exciting NBA moments, most recently a triple-overtime win against the Boston Celtics in a seven game series that brought highlights, memories, and an exit door from the 2008-2009 playoffs.
The 2009-2010 season brought on another visit to the playoffs as an eight seed and with it, Lebron James. The Bulls were clearly mismatched and Bulls and analysts alike spent as much time talking about whether James could potentially be a Bull once he reached free agency. The Bulls went out in semi-exciting fashion winning game three and losing by two in the game 5 finale.
Get ready for more excitement, more moments, and more disappointment.
This years Bulls feature some important additions including Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Brewer(yes, it may have seemed they were gunning for the entire Jazz team). Fifteen-year veteran Kurt Thomas has also joined the squad along with PG/SG C.J. Watson. Watson became an effective player off the bench last year with the Warriors and received more playing time, including fifteen starts, with Monta Ellis injured for several games.
There is no doubt to what Carlos Boozer brings to this team. Boozer was a half point off on his points average last year(19.5) from having three 20/10 seasons in five years. He will be as much of a reliable post presence for Derrick Rose this year as he was for Deron Williams In Utah.
Kyle Korver adds a true perimeter threat, something that has been an area of struggle with 6-8 forward Luol Deng's 38.6% shooting from behind the arc leading the Bulls last season. Korver brings his 43.6 career percentage highlighted by his astonishing 53.6% posting last year.
Ronnie Brewer's greatest contribution to the Bulls will be in the form of defense. His 1.6 steals/gm last season does not fully demonstrate his tenacious and persistent coverage abilities.
The Bulls off-season was one of the most successful in the league, making acquisitions for a team that already had several promising pieces in place. New coach Tom Thibodeau should have no problem sifting through his box of tools to build a solid first season.
Derrick Rose has earned his right amongst the league's PG elite and going into his third year, does not yet have a ceiling. Rose improved his FG% and 3PT% which along with his extra 2.7 shooting attempts per game, increased his PPG from 16.3 in his rookie season to 20.3. A slight decrease in assists has analysts worried that Rose is becoming too of a scorer opposed to involving his teammates. Regardless, Rose is a stud.
Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, James Johnson, Kurt Thomas. These are the six Bulls players that stand-in at 6'9” or above. Four of them averaged over seven rebounds last year with Boozer and Noah averaging 11.0 and 11.8, respectively. The Bulls should cause the entire league problems with their menacing rebounding abilities.
Unfortunately, however, it looks as though the Bulls additions and advancements will not be enough. The Bulls simply do not have the balance of scoring ability that the Celtics do. With KG, Rondo, Allen, and Pierce the Celtics can have a step-it-up, go-to player or more on any given night. Players like this on the Bulls consist of Rose, Boozer...Deng? The kind of purely creative off-the-dribble ability to create shots like the Heat will create match-up problems and they will struggle with the speed and athletic ability of Wade and James. With Noah being their tallest player at 6'11" and behind him a slew of 6'9" players, it will be difficult for the Bulls to out rebound the two 7'0" towers in L.A. while hindering their perimeter abilities. Notice I didn't even mention the Magic or Hawks.
Like the legendary Jazz, Pacers, Knicks, Sonics, and Heat teams that were plagued by Jordan's Bulls throughout the 1990's, this year's Chicago Bulls are merely victims of a time period that is full of powerhouse teams in an era that will be remembered for years to come.