Chicago Bulls – Blog-a-Bull

Website: Blog-a-Bull
Author: Matt

Last Years Record: 41-41
Key Losses: Tyson Chandler, Darius Songaila, Othella Harrington, Eric Piatkowski, Janerro Pargo
Key Additions: Ben Wallace, P.J. Brown, Adrian Griffin, Viktor Khryapa, Tyrus Thomas (draft), Thabo Sefolosha (draft)

1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
This offseason produced the most significant free agent acquisition in the history of the Bulls franchise, signing Ben Wallace from the division rival Pistons. Like many have speculated, there could be a time in the near future where Wallace’s 4-year, $60m contract may turn out to be an albatross, but with cap space to spare and a chance to deal a blow to a fellow Eastern Conference contender as well as improve their own roster, in the short-term the move was a coup for the Bulls. They managed to add a star (albeit a defensive one) without having to part with their young core, and elected to deal the now-redundant Tyson Chandler to maintain cap flexibility.

But beyond upgrading from Chandler to Wallace, the Bulls significantly improved their depth by adding well-regarded roleplayers like P.J. Brown and Adrian Griffin. Unlike past seasons, the Bulls rotation won’t be filled out with washed up veterans (see the ‘key losses’) playing heavy minutes for the sake of ‘leadership’, these additions will add production along with experience. And it’s rare for a playoff team to also acquire a prospect as exciting as #2 overall pick Tyrus Thomas (a gift from the Knicks resulting from last summer’s Eddy Curry trade), who with fellow lottery pick Thabo Sefolosha will not be immediately forced into heavy responsibility, but have a chance to as the season progresses.

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
The strength of the Bulls the past two seasons has been defense, and they just added the reigning defensive player of the year. The one thing keeping them from being the best defense in the league was their tendency to commit too many fouls, a stat that their new experienced frontcourt will help reduce. They’ve lead the league in defensive FG% each of the previous two seasons, with a team effort that head coach Scott Skiles demands (remember the Tim Thomas era in Chicago?) from everyone on the roster, to be lead by defensive aces like Wallace and their best guard defender, Kirk Hinrich.

Skiles may be the best pure coach in the league, and with a team loaded with versatile, willing defenders (and seemingly few egos), I’m excited to see how many different looks he will throw out there each game with this now extremely deep roster. Skiles’ is not exclusively a defensive coach, his offensive plan for the Bulls does its best to mask the lack of a low-post scorer and uses disciplined spacing, screening, driving/kicking and good-ole’fashioned ball movement (fun fact to impress with at dinner parties: The Bulls were the fifth-highest paced team in the NBA last season) to spread the scoring load among Hinrich, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, and their best pure scorer, Ben Gordon. And as deep as they are defensively, the roster is also constructed to allow the starters to rest without having too much of an offensive dropoff when the second unit is on the floor.

3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
Being deep and versatile on offense sure is swell, but in the NBA there are times in every game where a team just needs to give the ball to their guy and let him go get a basket. The Bulls don’t have ‘that guy’, meaning on every possession the team offense needs to be clicking to get a high percentage shot attempt. When the offense is running smoothly, the Bulls’ varied weapons can be hard to stop, but the overall inconsistency also leads to long scoring droughts. Gordon comes closest to being that go-to guy, but as of yet is not truly dependable each game. The burden is not only on Gordon, as each of the Bulls young scorers need to get their shooting percentages up and turnovers down. They rely heavily on outside shooting, and do not get to the free-throw line enough to make up for poor shooting nights. The Bulls will be looking to Gordon and his fellow young teammates to make the necessary next steps in their careers, where the mistakes go down and efficiency goes up.

Many assume that any team that acquires Ben Wallace will become worse on offensive, but one thing that Wallace does well on offense is avoid turnovers. Adding Wallace and Brown will make the offense better by substantially reducing the dropped passes and moving screens (well, the ones the refs call, anyway) Bulls fans are used to seeing from their frontcourt.

4. What are the goals for this team?
With many players on the roster entering their third and fourth seasons in the league, the goal for them will be improvement and establishing their future with the team before the clock of their rookie contracts are up. But overall the team’s stakes have been raised: upon signing the 32-year old Wallace (and jettisoning the 24-year old Chandler) along with other veterans, GM John Paxson sent a clear message that the timeframe for a championship has been accelerated. Generously, you could consider it a 4-year window (the length of Wallace’s contract), however I think of it as perhaps only 2 years.

Can they be a top contender by then? Keeping in mind that the existing roster had made the playoffs in two consecutive seasons, and gave Miami fits in last year’s opening round, the expectations would’ve been raised regardless. With their summer additions the bar is even higher.

5. Do you see any more moves being made?
Continuing with this implicit indication of an accelerated championship timetable that was signaled by the Ben Wallace signing, I don’t think it’s out of the question that Paxson’s next move will be a trade-deadline blockbuster. Likely packaging a member of his young core (outside of Hinrich, and to a lesser extent, Deng) with either draft picks, expiring contracts, or recent draftees (they have assets to spare) to land a ‘superstar’ to play alongside Wallace and be that go-to guy that the team lacks on offense. Pax has shown patience thus far in his tenure in terms of holding on to his drafted talent, but he also has indicated that while he’s happy with his tough young team, he’s not satisfied until the Bulls win the whole thing.

Predicted Record: I have them winning 55 games, getting the second seed in the East. Some teams are said to be built for the playoffs. It’s hard to predict whether this new mix of players will be ready for a deep playoff run, but they are definitely built to win a lot of games in the regular season. As you’re likely tired of hearing by now: the Bulls play defense and are deep, two things that can keep them in every game they’ll play. They may have nights when the shots aren’t falling, but there will be very few games when they’re not putting out an effort, meaning they should beat up the lesser teams in the league without fear of playing down to the competition. But will they be a cohesive playoff-ready unit? If they are, there’s no team in the East that can beat them.

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19 Responses to Chicago Bulls – Blog-a-Bull

  1. Ryan W. says:

    And who isn’t happy that Skiles is standing up for purity in coaching?

  2. Matt says:

    hah, agreed.

    I forgot to take that ‘pure’ line out of there, this will bug me all day. Anyway, what I meant is that he is the best coach in the league, taking out of consideration the ‘ego massaging’ that is an important coaching skill the likes of Jackson and Riley have proven to have which Skiles hasn’t.

  3. [...] Check out the latest preview from Blog a Bull for, (shocker!) the Chicago Bulls. Here’s a snippet: Skiles’ is not exclusively a defensive coach, his offensive plan for the Bulls does its best to mask the lack of a low-post scorer and uses disciplined spacing, screening, driving/kicking and good-ole’fashioned ball movement (fun fact to impress with at dinner parties: The Bulls were the fifth-highest paced team in the NBA last season) to spread the scoring load among Hinrich, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, and their best pure scorer, Ben Gordon. [...]

  4. Jeff Clark says:

    want me to remove the word Matt?

  5. Ryan W. says:

    Skiles did some time. I would guess he gives a great massage. But yes, I knew what you meant, apologies for bringing it up.

  6. Matt says:

    Nah, Jeff, I stand behind it! Best PURE coach in the league! My love for Skiles is well-known anyway, might as well put it out there.

  7. 2006-07 Chicago Bulls Preview

    NBA Blog Previews are headed back to the Eastern Conference, resuming with the Chicago Bulls today. The Bulls have had a busy offseason, but longtime blogger Matt Bernhardt from B…

  8. MBunge says:

    55 wins? Wow. As good as Ben Wallace is at what he does, I’m not sure he and PJ Brown = 14 more wins than last year. The offense may run smoother, but if you’re going to have Wallace out there for 35+ minutes a game, the Bulls will actually be worse at scoring out of the post than they were with that motley collection of centers last year. I think you guys can still challenge for a title because the East is still weak, but 55 wins?

    Mike

  9. Js on my feet says:

    Todays nba isnt the same as it was the last few years of spurs & pistons champioships. There series (style of play) didnt bring in enough ratings. Stern doesnt want this “tough defense” style to become the way to win, last postseson was just the beginning of new things to come. Offensive players will have far a easier time this post season & so on. I hate to say it (im disguisted myself) only way to win in “todays” nba is to have a lebron/wade/kobe type player or high flying offense like pho. Come playoff time refs will be sucking on that whistle and players like big ben will be in foul trouble and players like wade will be going to the line 30 times a game. The greed of wealthly will corrupt everthing

  10. Js on my feet says:

    It aint right. But it is what it is. Pro sports are all about $$$, owners dont give a flying fuk about integority of the game. If anything ben wallace set us a step back from winning a title. Will have a better regular season if that means anyting.

  11. Pradamaster says:

    I’ve got a bet going with my roomate on who will win more regular-season games this year, the Bulls or the Wizards. Obviously, I went with the Wizards, and he went with his hometown Bulls.

    So Matt, you interested in a similar deal? No money involved, of course, but maybe the loser has to post on the winner’s site about how great the winner’s team is? Something of the sort? I’d obviously take the Wiz, and I figure you’d take the Bulls. Considering the teams’ past history and the distinct possibility that they’ll meet in the playoffs somewhere along the way, l feel like it’s a fair comparison. Wizards blogger vs. Bulls blogger, mono el mono. What do you think?

    -Bullets Fever

  12. amber says:

    DETROIT BASKETBALL ALL THE WAY

  13. PDaddy says:

    MBunge, you may want to relook at what that “motley collection of centers” put up offensively last season.

  14. Goos says:

    What do you call a Female Bull… h yea, I think it’s Bullét…

    How is Chandler any better offensively than ANYONE in the NBA… I dont care if BW has 1 point a game… his presence will be enough to open up apportunities for the other guys… plus, BGordon HAS to prove himself big this season if he doesnt want to be traded… Hinrich is becoming a even better player than he’s been. Noch is a beast… and without Chandler there, even if they dont score in the middle, they wont be setting up the other team for fould shots every 30seconds… remember Chadler in the Playoffs? 5 minutes…. 5Fouls… 0Pts.. 0Reb… When we needed him to step up and play like the player he’s supposed to be… he assumed the Fetal position and became a pest… I rather have Duhon PLaying Center than Having anyting like last years BS… it was 6 vs 4 everytime he stepped on the floor… Can you tell I hate Chandler?… well, I do, and too bad for Chris Paul, cause I like the kid… Now he’ll have to deal with TC for a few years… Better him than Us tho…

  15. westthebest says:

    this bulls team is getting way too overrated.

    I see about 48-50 wins.

  16. [...] Chicago Bulls [Blog-a-Bull]: “…Beyond upgrading from Chandler to Wallace, the Bulls significantly improved their depth by adding well-regarded roleplayers like P.J. Brown and Adrian Griffin. Unlike past seasons, the Bulls rotation won’t be filled out with washed up veterans playing heavy minutes for the sake of ‘leadership’, these additions will add production along with experience.” [...]

  17. [...] However, as I was re-reading the Bulls preview, I’m pretty sure that we’d have to bid against Chicago.  See Matt’s comments: Continuing with this implicit indication of an accelerated championship timetable that was signaled by the Ben Wallace signing, I don’t think it’s out of the question that Paxson’s next move will be a trade-deadline blockbuster. Likely packaging a member of his young core (outside of Hinrich, and to a lesser extent, Deng) with either draft picks, expiring contracts, or recent draftees (they have assets to spare) to land a ’superstar’ to play alongside Wallace and be that go-to guy that the team lacks on offense. [...]

  18. micah kenneth says:

    I have to disagree with the projection of Chicago being in second place this year.
    I have seem them play and know a lot about basketball, they have the best chance of winning their division with the added talent they now have on their roster.
    Chicago should be able to make a run at a couple of championships with the players on their roster.
    They did an extremely good job of draft picking and trading for what they needed.
    This team is very balanced on all levels.
    If Hignrich is ready to lead he will have the thourough breds to dominate the court, I see them starting off moderately fast then getting stronger and faster as the season wears on,
    And I believe their first game of the season is Miami we’ll get a chance to see what I’m intimating from watching this game.
    Cleveland didn’t do enough to improve their team and Detroit will be a good team but their no longer the best team on the East.

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