Chicago Bulls: 5 Players Who'll Take a Step Back in 2011-12 NBA Season

Steven ElonichCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2011

Chicago Bulls: 5 Players Who'll Take a Step Back in 2011-12 NBA Season

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    The Chicago Bulls have been full of optimism since their leap into the top overall seed in the NBA. Making the Eastern Conference Finals is no laughing matter.

    Unfortunately, players don't always perform their best every season. Here are five players currently playing for the Bulls that will take a step back in 2012, assuming we have a season.

1,2,3: The Shooting Guards

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    If all goes well, we will have a new shooting guard in the Windy City come next season.

    Well, that's good news assuming you aren't Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver. Their playing time will significantly drop if a more complete player comes to town.

    There's also a good chance that if the Bulls make a big trade, at least one of these players will be thrown into a trade package.

    These shooting guards were near the bottom of the stairs anyway, but they will still be taking a step back.

4: Kurt Thomas

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    Kurt Thomas played admirably in the 2010-2011 season, and many fans wanted to see more of his tough play in the postseason.

    Most of his playing time came from injuries to both Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, but he kept the Bulls strong in the paint and, most importantly, in the win column.

    So why would he take a step back?

    Omer Asik is looking at more playing time. Asik began showing great strides from the beginning of last season to the final games.

    He was a joke to begin the year, awkwardly setting screens and looking unbelievably confused. I cracked a few jokes about him, but Asik made me eat my words as the season went on. He will be the first threat at the center position coming off the bench, and Taj Gibson will be the first power forward into the game.

    This leaves Kurt Thomas playing garbage-time minutes over, must I say it?, The White Mamba, Brian Scalabrine.

5: Carlos Boozer

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    Not to say that Carlos Boozer met expectations through an injury-plagued season and postseason, but his stats could very well be even lower this coming season.

    His backup, Taj Gibson, became very impressive and a favorite in Chicago. It looks as if Boozer is going to lose some minutes unless he becomes tougher on defense, more consistent on offense and healthy.

    Anyone see a little Alfonso Soriano in Carlos Boozer? It's only been one year, but the city of Chicago has felt enough of that.

     

Others?

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    Luol Deng has been injury prone his entire career, until playing monumental minutes last season. Can he withstand another season like that?

    Derrick Rose is now among the main targets in the East? Can he continue to perform and if he gains help, will his numbers stay as high?

    Joakim Noah's defense was questionably in the playoffs. Was it just one slip up or a sign of his high energy only carrying him so far?

    Let's just hope there is a season to answer any questions we have.