On one hand, you have a top five player in the NBA. He’s the only player drafted in the 2000’s to have led his team to the playoffs each and every year.
He hasn’t had a ton of post-season success, but appeared to be on the brink in 2009 when he led his team to the Western Conference Finals and pushed the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in a highly competitive six game series.
On the other hand you have a scrappy, young center who's shown steady improvement, but isn’t a top-tier talent.
He’s as hard working as they come, but lacks the size to single-handedly deal with the Dwight Howards, Shaqs or the Andrew Bynums (when healthy).
Your team is an up and coming squad and shows promise, but so have many other young squads that have either lost their way altogether (i.e. 76ers,) or have threatened to spend the better part of the next decade treading water (i.e. Trailblazers, Thunder, Rockets).
The top five player has shown discontent with his current team and you now have an opportunity to trade your center for him.
What do you do?
Many NBA GMs would have simply pulled the trigger. Well, I think its officially time to credit the Bulls organization for being smart enough not to.
Taking into consideration common traits of every NBA Championship team in the last decade, there are three things we know that a team needs to win the title:
1) A go-to scorer
2) Very good coaching
3) A physical, defensively capable frontcourt
The Bulls have numbers 1 and 2.
Alongside Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose is arguably the best young point guard in the league and his 25 ppg is the highest we’ve seen from any point guard since Gilbert Arenas poured in 28 points per game in 2007.
Though the firing of coach Vinny Del Negro seemed like more of a scapegoat tactic than a necessity, the team hasn’t suffered much of a drop off underneath former Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, and they aren’t likely to start.
Thibodeau comes highly recommended by his former associates in Boston.
Paul Pierce claims that Thibodeau watches so much game tape that he’s got “square eyeballs”.
Garnett wasn‘t hesitant to sing Thibodeau‘s praises either."When you think of Tom Thibodeau and what's his strengths, he's obviously a defense guy. He watches an uncountable amount of film. He's a worker. He's a guy that loves his job. He does it with passion.”
When a guy as verbally venomous as Kevin Garnett sings your praises, there's usually something to them.
I guess that covers the first two. Now all that remains for the Bulls is number 3, a defensively capable frontcourt.
The problem is the Bulls don't have one.
Although Noah’s taken leaps in bounds in his overall game, posting career highs in points and rebounds, he’s the only big man in Chicago with any real defensive worth.
Even when Carlos Boozer returns, he won’t likely be a significant contributor on the defensive end of the floor. Boozer has never averaged more than 0.7 blocks per game and he hasn’t even done that since his sophomore season.
Boozer is somewhat undersized for his position and hasn’t had much success in slowing down the likes of Pau Gasol or Amar’e Stoudmire.
Although Boozer isn’t notoriously injury prone, he’s missed 60 games in the last three seasons alone, which should serve as a bit of a warning sign.
Though Carmelo Anthony’s scoring would be a welcome addition to any team, the Bulls were wise in refusing to compromise their interior; you don’t want Boozer to be the best defensive player in your frontcourt.