Saturday, September 6, 2014

2014 Offseason winners: Chicago Bulls

Pau Gasol to Chicago Bulls
Pau chicka wow wow
2013-2014 record: 48-34

I don't know how they do it. Even without superstar point guard Derrick Rose (who tore his meniscus just 10 games after returning from an 18 month ACL recovery) and Bulls lifer Luol Deng (traded for Andrew Bynum and three future draft picks at the February deadline), they still managed to grab the No. 4 seed. Sure, Thibodeau's pesky troops got over-run by the Washington Wizards in the first round, but it's not hard to see why: their hard-ridden core guys and rag tag crew of in-season additions simply ran out of gas against the excited kids from the capital.

Rose has so far been unspectacular in the FIBA World Cup, and he could possibly face a minutes cap during the regular season, but when a former MVP returns, your team is going to be better. Default MVP Joakim Noah, who averaged career-highs of 12.6 PPG and 11.3 last season, will sure be glad to have his "little brother" back on the court with him. So will All-Defensive Second Teamer Jimmy Butler (13.1 PPG), blue-collar worker Taj Gibson (13.0 PPG off the bench), shooter Mike Dunleavy (maker of 123 long-range bombs), tough guard Kirk Hinrich and sophomore Tony Snell.

Former No. 9 overall pick D.J. Augustin would have been a nice keep, but he decided to flip his succesful fill-in stint into a 2-year, $6 million deal with the Detroit Pistons instead. Other than him, the Bulls only lost the GOAT Mike James and of end-of-the-bench players.

The Bulls swung for the fences with Carmelo Anthony and missed, but they still managed to make some great additions. Lakers forward Pau Gasol, for example, with whom they have been flirting for years, is a drastic improvement over amnestied forward Carlos Boozer, whose lackluster ways bothered Chicagoans to no end. European big man Nikola Mirotic (selected with the No. 23 pick in 2011) reached a buyout with Real Madrid to join Gasol in the frontcourt. Sparkplug scoring guard Aaron Brooks should offset the loss of Augustin. Rookie small froward Doug McDermott (the No. 11 pick in this year's draft) shined in the NBA Summer League, averaging 18.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 2.8 APG. Australian rookie big man Cameron Bairstow adds some size.

2014-2015 prediction:

With last year's core remaining largely intact, the return of Derrick Rose and the addition of two-time NBA Champion Pau Gasol, the Bulls will be a force to reckon with. Coach Thibs, who finished third in Coach of the Year voting, will make sure that the defense doesn't slip, and with franchise point guard Rose and passing big man combo Noah-Gasol in place, the offense should be much improved. 

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