The NBA season is just days away, and basketball fans are beyond excited after early indications pointed to a missed season.
The Bulls have been pretty active by improving their weakest position from last year and making it into a strength by adding Rip Hamilton, but will the facemask be enough to put them over the top?
After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Bulls are hoping that the addition of a nearly automatic mid-range shooter who can spread the floor and plays solid defense is going to put them in position to bring another championship to Chicago, and Derrick Rose is looking to prove that last season's MVP performance was just the beginning of a long run of amazing seasons.
With a great mix of youth, hunger and experience, this Bulls team is going to be tough for any team in the NBA, so are there any spots where you can attack the Bulls?
I'm Joe W.
Follow Joe on Twitter @JWillett2
Derrick Rose is not only the face of the Chicago Bulls, but he has quickly become the face of Chicago and a superstar throughout the country.
When you talk about the Bulls, Rose is the main topic of conversation. He even has a clause in the collective bargaining agreement named after him for when a player outperforms his contract to the point where you just throw money at him so he doesn't leave you, LeBron-style.
It doesn't look like Rose is planning on leaving any time soon with his five-year contract extension, and this MVP is determined to bring a title to his hometown.
I could go on for hours about how great Derrick Rose is, but there are plenty of other players who deserve praise on this Bulls team.
Backup: CJ Watson
CJ Watson is a critical part of the Bulls' Bench Mob, and he is an adequate player who could easily start on quite a few teams.
There is always going to be drop off when you rest the MVP, but Watson is great at minimizing that drop off and still playing solid basketball.
Rip Hamilton was the big acquisition for the Bulls this offseason. Last year, the Bulls had issues with shooting, and it forced Rose to take a lot of tough shots while driving to the lane.
Hamilton gives Rose a consistent kick-out when is getting blanketed in paint, and he makes it so that opposing teams can't take their defender off the shooting guard and bring him in the middle.
He is also impossible to cover as he is constantly moving and looking for any holes in the defense that he can exploit to find the open shot.
Defensively he is a solid player and anybody coached by Tom Thibodeau instantly gets better defensively, so there isn't going to be any issue there.
One of the biggest things he brings to this young Bulls squad, however, is his experience. He brings years of playoff experience and has won a championship, so he knows what it's like to be in almost any situation and can help the young and inexperienced players around him when they do end up in tight spots.
He has shored up the one real hole that the Bulls had last season and is going to make it nearly impossible for opposing teams to key in defensively on any player.
Backups: Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver
This is a position where the Bulls spent most of last season playing matchups. Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver all saw significant minutes and were important parts to the Bulls' season.
This year is going to be slightly different. They have a back up for either situation, but they don't have one that can play both ends of the court.
Brewer is a great defender who has the size and length to match up against any player in the NBA defensively, but he is a very limited shooter who doesn't create a lot of opportunities for himself or others on offense.
Korver is a great shooter who can get open and drop three-point shots with consistency, but defensively he finds his way into the highlight real often, and not for the right reasons.
This season, both players will see fewer minutes but will still see a good amount of time on the court depending on the situation.
Luol Deng is, in my opinion, the unsung hero of the Chicago Bulls.
While everybody talks about Rose, Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah, Deng is a solid player who plays great defense, has solid offensive range, and can hit the open shot.
In the years before Derrick Rose took over Chicago, Deng was a lightening rod for hate amongst Chicago fans looking for reasons for sub-par seasons. He never played poorly, but he was given a big contract and played inconsistently.
When Rose broke out, so did Deng. He became consistent and a force on both offense and defense. Last season, when matched up with LeBron James, he was able to apply pressure and take James out of his comfort zone, something few players can do.
Deng is one of the better players on the Bulls and is a starter on every team in the NBA without an elite small forward.
Backup: Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has been getting a lot of buzz around Chicago for his solid preseason play so far. He is a good player and the Bulls are looking for him to start his development this season.
Butler couldn't be in a better position as a rookie. He has almost no pressure on him to perform, and anything he does is really a bonus as Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver are both also able to play small forward.
This season will likely be a learning season for Butler, but look for him to start making his presence felt about halfway through the season. He has the ability to be a force down the line on both offense and defense.
Don't expect much from Butler this season thanks to the lockout, but look for him to become a great player in the near future.
The results were very mixed, as Boozer had some great moments and some bad ones.
When he was on, he brought an energy to the team that was unmatched by any other team. If he was making shots and playing solid defense, the Bulls were without a doubt the best team in the NBA.
When he was off, the energy was lacking for the Bulls. They were still able to play better than most teams in the NBA and are a playoff team without him, but a fired-up Boozer is a difference-maker for this team.
Boozer is really the player that the Bulls will live and die with this season; if he isn't able to stay healthy this season and become a consistent player, the Bulls will likely be where they were last season: a deep playoff run but nothing to show for it.
If Boozer comes in motivated and ready to prove all of his doubters (and there are plenty of doubters) wrong, then the Bulls are going to be among the favorites to win a championship this season.
Backup: Taj Gibson, Brian Scalabrine
If Boozer plays uninspired ball this season, Tom Thibodeau will not hesitate to put him on the bench, leaving a lot of playing time open for Taj Gibson.
Gibson is a starting-caliber player and plays some of the best defense on the team. When he is paired up with Joakim Noah in the paint, it is nearly impossible for teams to score inside.
He has spent a lot of the offseason working on his game and looks to be in great shape, so it's hard to see him not taking a big step forward and forcing Thibodeau's hand and earning more playing time.
Unfortunately for Bulls fans, Gibson can't sit on the bench forever, and he deserves to start somewhere. As long as Boozer is in the picture, it's hard to see Gibson in the starting role. The Bulls could use him as trade bait, as most teams won't want to take on the big contract that Boozer has.
As for the White Mamba, there isn't enough that you can say. He is the emotional leader of this squad, and fans get up on their feet and cheer whenever he gets in the game.
It's impossible not to get hyped when you see him get on the court and Stacy King goes crazy, as he said the other night: "The man, the myth, the legend, the White Mamba, ready to strike."
Joakim Noah is an absolute beast in the paint defensively. He blocks shot like it's his job (okay, well it kind of is his job but he is great at it), and he is one of the best in the NBA at grabbing rebounds.
He is also slowly emerging as a solid offensive player. At the beginning of last season, Noah was easily an All-Star, and it isn't a stretch to say that he can return to that form again this season.
Much like with Boozer, the Bulls need Noah to stay healthy—he missed a lot of games last year and was greatly missed.
It is also very possible that he is going to improve his offensive game. If he can start scoring more, it isn't out of the question for him to put up 17 points and 14 rebounds per game with a blocked shot or two.
Backup: Omer Asik
Omer Asik has been a work in progress for the Bulls. He has the natural size that you want out of your big man, but he is very green when it comes to actual skill.
He is quickly improving, and the way he played at the end of the season was leaps and bounds better than how he played at the beginning of the season.
Although he is prone to fouls, he is a great defensive player with an improving offensive game. Expect him to play the same role he did last year as a substitute for Noah who can come in and play a lot of minutes if Noah gets hurt, but also expect him to play that role better than he did last year.
He is coming off of some injuries from last season, so it may take him some time to get back in shape, but it shouldn't be too long before he is back at full strength.
Last season, the Bulls added Tom Thibodeau and Carlos Boozer, and they made a huge difference, as the Bulls went from a .500 team to having the best record in the NBA.
This season the Bulls are going to be leaps and bounds better than last. Rose has another year under his belt and is coming off an MVP season.
Rip Hamilton turns a weakness to a strength and adds a veteran presence to a very young and inexperienced team.
Taj Gibson and Omer Asik are both ready to improve by leaps and bounds and are possibly the best combination inside backups in the NBA.
Last season was a learning season. The Bulls got all of their main pieces put into place and learned what it was like to go deep into the playoffs.
This season they shored up a weakness and are ready to take that experience and turn it into a championship.
Expect the Bulls to be right back up at the top of the NBA with their regular season record, and nobody should be surprised to see them in the NBA Finals at the end of the season.
I'm Joe W.
Follow Joe on Twitter @JWillett2