Sky High: 10 Bold Predictions for the Chicago Bulls This Season
It's late in summer and most of the dust has settled, the smoke has cleared, and now it's time to look forward to the future.
Notably, the team we are going to be looking at are the Chicago Bulls. I will do my best to make 10 bold predictions for the Bulls' upcoming season in hopes that most of them, if not all, come true.
Keep in mind that some of these may seem a little too optimistic, but that's why they are BOLD predictions.
Without further ado, here are my top 10 bold predictions for the Bulls' upcoming season...
Kyle Korver Leads League in Three-Point Percentage AGAIN
Let's start with the most likely predictions and work our way up.
Last year, Korver led the league in three-point percentage at a scorching 53 percent with 59 makes on 110 attempts. Those are very impressive numbers and while it may seem difficult to repeat, it may happen again.
Korver is really the Bulls' only legitimate three-point shooter who'll get major minutes (Keith Bogans won't). Sure, we know about Rose's improved shot and CJ Watson's shooting isn't too shabby either, but neither of those two come close to the stroke of Korver.
Many of players on the Bulls are most effective when inside the three-point line (Rose, Brewer, Noah, Boozer, Deng). When defenses collapse on a driving Rose or a double-teamed Boozer, who's going to get the kickout pass for the three-point shot? You guessed it...Kyle Korver.
Similar to Mike Miller in Miami, teams will be far too focused on stopping the Bulls' other offensive options, thus leaving Korver to do what he does best: Shooting the the three-ball.
Ronnie Brewer Makes Us Forget Kirk Hinrich
One of the most underrated and financially stable signings this summer was Brewer. He's going to make us forget about Kirk Hinrich.
He's signed to a three-year, $12.5 million contract. Folks, that's just $4.7 million a year with the last year non-guaranteed.
Who remembers what the Bulls were paying Kirk Hinrich? If you guessed nine million, then you're exactly right. That's almost a five million dollar difference between Brewer and Hinrich, who have similar skill-sets.
Aside from a financial standpoint, Brewer has many skills Hinrich never possessed. He is the athletic two guard that Derrick Rose didn't have in Hinrich. Brewer can run up and down the court and finish on lobs and in transition with Rose.
We already know about his lockdown D, but he's also got the ability to handle the ball like Hinrich and give Rose a few possessions off on offense, and while his shooting may not be on par with Hinrich, the other skills he brings to the table overshadow it.
Bulls Become No. 1 Defensive Team in NBA
Bulls fans remember way back in the Scott Skiles days when the Bulls possessed the best defense in the entire league, right? Well, those days are here again.
This time though, it will be under the teachings of defensive guru Tom Thibodeau, who'll turn this scrappy Bulls team into a defensive powerhouse.
Make no mistake about it, Thibodeau's credentials speak for themselves, He was the mastermind behind the Celtics 2008 championship team that featured the league's top defense and was partly responsible for the 2010 Celtics team that was just a few minutes away from winning a second title.
The Bulls themselves have some players already known for their defensive prowess in Ronnie Brewer, who's well known to have some of the best man-to-man defensive stands in the league, and Taj Gibson, a developing defensive big man with great post defense. Also, the Bulls have veterans Keith Bogans and Kurt Thomas who have solid defensive reputations.
Combine the defensive teachings of Thibodeau with the defensive prowess of the Bulls players, and what do you have? The No. 1 defense in the league.
Joakim Noah Leads League in Field Goal Percentage
This prediction is a lot more likely than it seems, folks.
With the free-agent signing of Carlos Boozer, we found the man who will be responsible for the majority of our points in the post. Meaning, we won't need Noah to make any post moves, shoot 15-footers, left-handed hooks, or anything like that.
All we need Noah to do is what he does best, and that's hustle, rebound, defend, and SCORE EASY BUCKETS.
With defenses focused on Boozer's ability to score in the post, Noah will be the beneficiary of many putbacks and easy buckets in the paint. No team will design their defensive plan to stop Noah and that's why he'll get easy dunk after dunk, due to Boozer commanding all the attention down low, and thus lead the league in field goal percentage.
Carlos Boozer Starts at PF for the East All-Star Team
Yes, it could happen.
While Rose is much more likely to start (he probably will) for the East All-Star team, don't count out Boozer.
If he plays the way we're accustomed to seeing and puts up the stats necessary, there's no stopping Boozer from achieving this.
His biggest competitors will be the Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire, Heat's Chris Bosh, and the Celtics' Kevin Garnett. Bosh probably won't put up the stats necessary with Wade and James to garner fan votes, and it helps that he's also on the most hated team in the league. Garnett, on the other hand, will definitely not put up the stats necessary and may not even deserve to be on the team. His popularity is what is keeping him in the discussion.
That leaves Amar'e Stoudemire as Boozer's main competition. Amar'e may put up monster stats or he may not. My gut says the latter happens. Amar'e won't have a PG of Steve Nash's caliber to keep feeding him the ball for easy buckets while Boozer will with Rose.
Luol Deng Finally Plays Up to His Contract
I'm not sure where I read this, but someone stated in one of their articles that Deng will break out this year because he'll play as what he is best suited for, and that's as a third/fourth option.
Over the last few years, Deng has had to take on that second option role, and while he's been decent at it (17 ppg, seven rpg), it hasn't been nearly enough to justify his albatross contract.
Now he's free to do what he does best, and that's play within a system. He'll flourish alongside Rose, Boozer, & Co. Defenses won't be after him as much due to the fact that they'll attempt to stop Rose and Boozer. He can hit his patented mid-range jumper all game and drive to the bucket occasionally. He can defend better and he's sure to get some easy buckets.
Deng will flourish this year and remind us why we broke out the bank for him....well, almost.
Bulls Finish Second in Eastern Conference
Make no mistake about it, the Bulls will be good.
Just how good is the question. Many experts have them finishing as high as third and no lower than fourth. I believe that the Bulls will finish second when it's all said and done.
This is the year they enter the East's elite and stamp their name in the upper echelon of the conference. They'll compile a great record with somewhere from 55-59 wins.
Boston, Orlando, and Miami will obviously make the top four with the Bulls in the East. I have the Heat finishing first with 60+ wins and while you disagree, just remember that chemistry wins championships, but talent wins games. And the Heat certainly have enough talent to do damage in the regular season even if they don't win a title this year.
Orlando is the other team that I have finishing just a tad under the Bulls with 50-54 wins. I have nothing against them but I feel the Bulls will be playing with a chip on their shoulder trying to showcase to the NBA that they're for real. Orlando, on the other hand, already knows it's great and needs to show no one.
Boston is the last team and I believe they're superior to the Heat, Magic, and Bulls. Unfortunately, Boston doesn't put much emphasis on the regular season and will be more than happy to grab the fourth seed and homecourt advantage in the first round.
Tom Thibodeau Named Coach of the Year
I know what you're thinking, the Bulls are already expected to do great so it won't be a big deal if they are one of the best teams in the East.
Hear me out, what happened with the Thunder last year? They were supposed to break out and they did, compiling a 50-win season. Scott Brooks won Coach of the Year, even though the Thunder were SUPPOSED to be good. Actually, they weren't even all that great considering they were just an eighth seed and were eliminated right away by the Lakers.
The Bulls, on the other hand, will be no lower than the fourth seed and will definitely get past the first round. Thus, I feel Thibodeau will get most of the credit for the Bulls success and win the award just like Brooks did.
Bulls Reach the Eastern Conference Finals
Ok, this one's a bit of a reach, but that's why we make bold predictions.
The way I have the playoffs lined up, I see:
1. Miami vs. 8. Indiana
4. Boston vs. 5. Atlanta
3. Orlando vs. 6. Milwaukee
2. Chicago vs. 7. New York
I won't list how many games each series will go to, as I simply list who will advance. Pacers, Hawks, Bucks, and Knicks lose.
1. Miami vs. 4. Boston
2. Chicago vs. 3. Orlando
I see the Celtics defeating the Heat purely based on their great chemistry. Now, I see the Bulls defeating the Magic and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics, where I have them losing to the C's.
Going back to the Bulls, they certainly have the talent to defeat Orlando as they're just as deep as them. It will all come down to how the stars perform and I see Rose and Boozer outperforming Nelson and Howard, thus allowing the Bulls to make the East Finals for first time since 1998.
Derrick Rose Becomes Superstar and MVP Candidate
For this ship to sail, Rose needs to be the captain and run with it. Also, all my predictions will depend upon this prediction, as the entire Bulls season depends upon this one man.
This is the year he takes his game to a whole 'nother level and enters his name into the game's greats. This is the year Rose needs to be on par with Paul and Williams and eventually surpass them as the best PG in the game. This is the year Rose needs to become one of the top 10 players in the league. This is the year Rose needs to enter his name among the MVP candidates.
If many of my predictions come true, then he'll certainly make his case for MVP. Rose is lucky to be surrounded by what many of the stars in the league desire, and that's talent.
Now he needs to take advantage of it and make Derrick Rose a household name.