Last season Keith Bogans started all 82 games for the Chicago Bulls and they went 62-20. Their record was not only best in the Eastern Conference but best in the entire league. Now imagine how good they can be if they had someone like O.J. Mayo or Rip Hamilton starting alongside Derrick Rose.
They might just be able to give that 72-10 record a run for their money.
The Bulls have an MVP at point guard along with three All-Star-caliber players in their starting lineup. They have a deep bench that allowed coach Tom Thibodeau go with a 10-man rotation. However, one of those 10 was Keith Bogans playing more than 17 minutes a night while averaging a measly 4.4 points a game.
When the Bulls had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen they could get away with a guard who didn't score a lot. During the second three-peat Ron Harper had scoring averages of 7.4, 6.3 and 9.3 points per game.
Rose and company proved they can cover for the lack of offense to a point. During the conference finals against Miami it became clear as Bogans shot 25 percent from the free-throw line, 30 percent from three-point land and only 35 percent overall from the field. Ron Harper always shot over 40 percent from the field during the championship era.
Whenever the lockout ends, it is expected that general manager Gar Forman's top priority will be to upgrade the shooting guard. Many names have been mentioned, from Rip Hamilton and Jason Richardson to O.J. Mayo and Nick Young.
In my opinion, I don't think guys like Nick Young, Courtney Lee and Marcus Thornton are real upgrades over in-house option Ronnie Brewer. All three are very young with upside, but if they aren't dedicated to defense coach Thibodeau will have a hard time sticking with them.
Mayo is young and talented like the other three and might benefit greatly from a change of scenery. Mayo has seen his points per game drop in each of his three years from 18.5 his rookie season to 11.3 last season. There are two issues with Mayo: 1. How will he accept his role as third or fourth option? 2. How much money will he demand, and can the Bulls afford it?
Signing Hamilton or Richardson may make the team the most dangerous.
With Hamilton the Bulls would be getting championship experience as well as a guard who knows how to play on a defense-first team. Hamilton is expected to receive a buyout from the Pistons and I would expect Chicago would be high on his list of teams.
While I think Hamilton would be a great fit, I think Richardson could be that much better. At only 30 years old he would give the Bulls someone who can create his own shot as a former two-time slam dunk champion as well as shooting 37 percent from behind the three-point line. Richardson is averaging 18 points for his career with 15.6 points last season for Orlando.
A starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Jason Richardson, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah could match anything Miami, New York or any other team could put together. Having those five starting along with a bench of Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans and rookie Jimmy Butler would make the Bulls the team to beat.
No matter whom the Bulls sign I am sure he will be an upgrade from Bogans, and it will only make them more dangerous. Now hopefully the lockout can end and we can see who that someone might be.