Chicago Bulls: 5 Lessons from the Dallas Mavericks
The NBA lockout is over. That means NBA fans across the world have breathed their sigh of relief. There will be a season! We're all aflutter with trade speculation. Who's going to make a play for Dwight Howard and Chris Paul? Are the Celtics really serious about trading Rajon Rondo?
I'm certain that Tom Thibodeau is only concentrated on one thing. The season, what happened last season and how the Bulls can improve this season. So what does that mean for the Bulls?
More specifically, what can the last team to nab a championship teach them?
The Time Is Now
The Bulls have built a strong team, replete with well-rounded talent. Most avid followers agree that their most glaring deficiency is at the two-guard. The mishmash of players there worked well enough during the season for the Bulls to garner the top seed in the NBA. But it didn't get the Bulls over the hump in the Eastern Conference Finals when push came to shove.
The Bulls front office can't be worried about hedging their bets. Spend the money now and let Jerry Reinsdorf count his profits once the Bulls win a championship. The reporting on who the Bulls are targeting for their two-guard problem hasn't been all that promising depending on your perspective.
Then there are the players. Jason Terry actually got the Larry O'Brien trophy tattooed on his bicep and promised to have it removed if the Mavericks didn't win a championship last season.
I'm not suggesting Luol Deng go out and do the same thing, but the Bulls need that same level of commitment. Neither the front office nor the players should hold back in favor of planning for the next season or the one after that.
The only way to start a dynasty is to win one.
The Mavericks had numerous players who could step up and put the team on their shoulders. Whether it was Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler or Shawn Marion, the Mavericks found a way to get it done.
The Bulls need players willing to do the same. It can't be the one-man Rose show. That may have worked in the regular season, but the postseason is an entirely different animal. The Bulls can't rely on Derrick Rose to carry the offensive load during every game with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade patrolling the perimeter.
Dirk Nowitzki had help. There was always a Jason Terry or J.J. Barea to step in when Nowitzki couldn't get his shot off.
Rose desperately needed that help from his teammates during the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tom Thibodeau got out-coached by Erik Spoelstra in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls defensive schemes weren't really the problem but their offensive schemes were stale at best.
Most fans yearned for adjustments like the addition of Rasual Butler or Kurt Thomas that weren't made, or were but too late to make a difference. We watched Thibodeau get out-coached by Spoelstra just to see the same thing happen to Spoelstra in the Finals.
Rick Carlisle kept his players motivated in Game 2 of the Finals which allowed them to have a momentous comeback that shifted the series. He made creative adjustments like starting J.J. Barea and was willing to rework the offense and defense at pivotal moments.
The Bulls need some of that spark to match the Heat next year.
Dirk Nowitzki's Multilayered Game
This is a lesson from Dirk Nowitzki to Derrick Rose. Add to your game. It made the Dallas Mavericks' victory possible. Nowitzki's game improved and became more dynamic since the 2006 Finals where they fell to the Heat. These changes made Nowitzki virtually impossible to guard by opposing defenders.
We've already seen Derrick Rose begin to expand his game. He developed a three-point shot. Rose has voiced the hope to develop a post game as well. It stands to reason that he's picked up some moves over this long offseason.
It's essential that Rose do more to establish himself as a three-point threat and limit his low percentage shots. Some post moves and a less streaky mid-range game would go a long way in making him even tougher to guard.
Rose has got to keep LeBron guessing in the fourth quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki was drafted in 1998. The Dallas Mavericks had never won a championship before last season. Nowitzki took them to the Finals in 2006 where they lost. The Mavericks had even developed a reputation of choking in important series. That didn't change the fact that Dallas exploded with the Finals in town. Fans brought the house down. They believed in their Mavs.
The Bulls can do everything right and still see themselves knocked out in the postseason. With teams in the east rising like the Knicks, then young talent in Oklahoma City ready to contend, there are a lot of talented teams standing in the way of the Chicago Bulls' seventh championship.
Derrick Rose brought the Bulls back to relevancy. In all likelihood, the Bulls will stay in contention for the next decade. They're in the hunt, with a few tweaks, that Larry O'Brien trophy could be theirs. Achieving the best record in the NBA, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, and having both the Most Valuable Player and the Coach of the Year are great feats.
The Dallas Mavericks and their fans know it doesn't always happen in one season. The Bulls must too.