When the Chicago Bulls drafted Luol Deng out of Duke after just one season, many believed the Bulls jumped the gun on a player with tremendous potential who also needed much work to harness his natural ability.
And it didn’t start out well for the Bulls. Deng was often injured and extremely inconsistent. The Bulls had many opportunities to trade Deng for players such as Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, but former GM John Paxson saw Deng as a special commodity. Little did we know, Paxson was creating something special in Chicago.
Although Paxson made many personnel decisions that may have cost the Bulls in the short run, his lasting impact on this team will be from the players he left behind in Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.
With the addition of forward Carlos Boozer to the young core, the Bulls should become a force to be reckoned with in the NBA for years to come.
Noah was drafted out of Florida as a raw center who wouldn’t develop into much more than an energy player. In the beginning, his critics were right. He was an athlete without much basketball ability. His development was so rapid that he is now considered by many to be one of the up-and-coming young centers in the league.
Rose, the league’s No. 1 pick out of Memphis in the 2008 NBA draft, has developed into a superstar, starting the NBA All-Star Game in just his third season as a pro. His tenacity and athleticism were never critiqued, but his outside shooting and ability to distribute the ball were some of his potential shortcomings in the NBA.
Boozer, a veteran forward from Duke was signed this summer by the Bulls after Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire all signed elsewhere. Boozer, though injury prone, is an All-Star caliber scorer and rebounder down the low post. His offensive prowess complements center Joakim Noah’s defensive and rebounding abilities.
These four players—Deng, Noah, Rose, and Boozer—have formed a great, young nucleus for Chicago. And their immediate success shouldn’t surprise many, even though this is their first season carrying high expectations as a group.
Deng and Boozer, both former Duke Blue Devils, had loads of success in college. Deng, in his freshman season, went to a final four. Boozer won a national title during the 2000-2001 season. Rose, in his one season at Memphis, lost in the national championship and Noah and his much-famed Florida Gators won back-to-back national championships.
Their combined records in college were 228-35. That equates to a .867 winning percentage.
While it is clear that college success does not always translate to NBA glory (Adam Morrison), winning will always be sure to translate itself from any league, in any sport, throughout any walk of life.
Not only is the Chicago Bulls' young core talented, but also they know what it takes to win, and this season they are out to prove that they can in the NBA.
Josh Rosenblat is a high school student from Chicago looking to find a way to break into sports journalism. He often writes about the NBA (primarily the Chicago Bulls), as well as the MLB, College Basketball, and the NFL. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @JMRosenblat. Feel free to send him comments.