The Chicago Bulls' 2013-14 opening day roster is slightly different than last year's version.
A quartet of players—Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Richard Hamilton and Vladimir Radmanovic—are now gone. However, the team added veteran Mike Dunleavy, as well as rookies Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, to the mix during this past offseason.
There are currently 12 players on Chicago's roster who have fully or partially guaranteed contracts. At least one more must be added before the start of the regular season in order to meet the league minimum. Mike James, Dexter Pittman and D.J. White are competing for that 13th spot, and it's unclear who will win the job.
Both this season's opening day roster and last year's are packed full of talent.
Why not compare the two?
2013-14: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
2012-13: Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
This year's starting five is one of the best in the business.
And it's undoubtedly Chicago's most gifted group since the 1997-98 season, back when Michael Jordan and the gang won their sixth title.
Derrick Rose, of course, missed all of last season after tearing his ACL during the 2012 playoffs. Fortunately, he' s back and possibly better than ever.
The 2011 NBA MVP recently went off for 32 points against the Indiana Pacers, making many people ask "Did he really suffer a major knee injury?"
Rose's backcourt mate Jimmy Butler is primed for a monster year. Mostly known for his outstanding defense, look for his offense to come around. This guy could make an All-Star team in the not-so-distant future, maybe even this season. You never know.
Speaking of All-Stars, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are easily one of the game's top defensive frontcourt duos. Both players, though, are expected to play less this year in order to stay fresh for the playoffs.
And we can't forget about Carlos Boozer, who's entering his fourth season as a Bull. While he isn't an elite defender by any stretch, he can still give you roughly 16 points and 10 boards a game.
Kirk Hinrich filled in for Rose at the point during the 2012-13 campaign. No, he didn't average 25 points like Rose, and he'll never win an MVP award, but Captain Kirk did an admirable job as a replacement, playing solid on the defensive end of the floor.
With Rose's return, Hinrich will head back to the bench, where he's better suited.
After beginning the year as the Bulls' starting shooting guard, Richard Hamilton is jobless right now and may never get picked up by another team. Sadly, his tenure in Chicago was extremely disappointing due to injuries.
The trio of Noah, Deng and Boozer helped the team grab the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference despite Rose's absence. Noah had his greatest season of his career, Deng was the same player he always is and Boozer served as a quality scorer.
Edge: 2013-14. Who would you rather have as your backcourt starters: Rose/Butler or Hinrich/Hamilton? C'mon, it's not much of a debate.
2013-14: Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Tony Snell, Marquis Teague, Erik Murphy
2012-13: Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Marquis Teague, Vladimir Radmanovic
The 2013-14 "Bench Mob" isn't expected to be as good as past versions. However, it does include a few valuable role players like Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich.
Gibson has served as a main bench player ever since he was drafted by the Bulls in 2009.
The 6'9" power forward has looked phenomenal so far this preseason, showcasing a deadly mid-range jump shot and dunking all over the place.
If his strong play carries over into the regular season, he might end up winning the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Dunleavy should emerge as Chicago's best three-point specialist since Kyle Korver. That's the main reason he was acquired during the offseason. The Bulls struggled last season, ranking just 21st in three-point percentage, which is surely nothing to brag about.
Tony Snell and Erik Murphy were also brought in due to their ability to shoot from long range.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau usually doesn't play rookies, but he could certainly change his mind and add the two youngsters to the rotation.
Hinrich will back up both guard spots, playing behind Rose and Butler. His defense and leadership makes him one of Thibodeau's favorites.
Nazr Mohammed, Marquis Teague and either Mike James, Dexter Pittman or D.J. White will fill out the rest of the bench.
Led by Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, the 2012-13 bench was solid.
Robinson, who is now with the Denver Nuggets, will be missed this season. He was spectacular during his lone season as a Bull, especially with his 34-point game in the playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets.
Gibson played top-notch D and so did Butler, who eventually took Hamilton's starting spot.
Although he isn't a stellar defender, Marco Belinelli served as a great clutch player and as someone who could score as well as handle the ball. He's now a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
Playing very little during the first part of the season, Nazr Mohammed turned out to be a reliable role player, filling in for the injured Joakim Noah.
Then-rookie Marquis Teague, as well as veteran Vladimir Radmanovic, rarely saw the court.
Edge: 2012-13. Robinson, Belinelli and Butler provided a great deal of scoring punch to the second unit.
This year's crew will likely struggle, however, to put the ball in the basket. Outside of Dunleavy and Gibson (if his preseason offense carries over), all the Bulls have are players who are known more for their defense like Hinrich and Mohammed.