2009/10 Season Review:
The Chicago Bulls entered last season with some expectations after a
splendid first round matchup against the Boston Celtics in the
previous year, in which the Bulls lost in 7 games.
They choose to not give an extension to Ben Gordon and the plan was
to hope for the natural development of Rose and Noah in both ends of the
floor. The outcome wasn’t great because the Bulls ended the regular
season with the same exactly record than the previous year: a pedestrian
.500 record 41-41! Due to this (and some personal problems with the GM
and the players) Vinny Del Negro is no longer the Bulls Head Coach.
What went wrong with the Bulls last season?
It’s curious that the Bulls hired defensive guru Head Coach Tom
Thibodeau, but the Bulls were actually a good defensive team last
season. According to my rankings the Bulls were the 11th best defense
in the league and the 9th best team in rebound margin. We are not
talking about an elite defensive unit, but with this kind of defense
they should be in a position to win more games so naturally it was
their offense that couldn’t keep up the slack.
The Bulls were the fourth worst offensive team (offensive
efficiency) in the league last season! They shot only 45.1% from the
field – 25th best mark and behind the arc the numbers weren’t pretty at
all: 33.02% - good for the third worst mark in the NBA! Also they
didn’t have any inside threat that could score points with some ease
and obviously they were a predictable team on the offensive end and
relatively easy to be stopped.
Besides the offensive problems the Bulls didn’t have the proper
depth to compete for a long 82-games marathon regular season. Their
bench was the second worst shooting unit (shooting only 41.5% from the
field) in the NBA trailing only the Nets. Once Noah and Rose got injured
at the same time, the Bulls went in a 10-games losing streak in March!
Still they were able to sneak into the Playoffs as the 8th seed, but
they were no match for the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the second
consecutive season, the Bulls were eliminated in the first round, but
this time the season didn’t satisfy the organization or the fans.
2009/10 Advanced Stats:
Pace 10th 96.9
Offense Eff. 27th 100.6
Defense Eff. 11th 102.5
Rebounds 9th +1.84
The Bulls had a busy offseason as they were one of the candidates to
sign Lebron James, but still their objectives were pretty clear:
By hiring Tom Thibodeau to be the new Head Coach, the Bulls want to
be an elite defensive team, being a good defensive team isn’t enough
right now. By signing free agent PF Carlos Boozer, the Bulls finally
added an inside threat down low that can score ease points and they
wanted as well to have some depth in the roster and they added some
interesting role players.
Derrick Rose is the face of this franchise and there is no reason to
think otherwise for the future. After being named Rookie of the Year in
08-09 he earned an All Star spot last season by averaging 20.8ppg and
6.0apg. He’s not a prototype playmaker Point Guard as he’s more a
scorer almost near impossible to stop off the dribble. His 3pts range
is a working in progress and with Boozer to work with in the post we
can expect Rose to run a lot of pick n’ roll plays and so it’s
imperative for him to knock down those mid jumpers like Deron Williams
did in Utah with Boozer.
Now that Kirk Hinrich is gone, the Bulls signed C.J. Watson from the
Warriors to be Rose’s backup. Like Rose, Watson is a flashy Point Guard
that can score in transition and he is a good long range shooter, his
defense is suspicious but playing in Golden State really doesn’t tell
us how good his defensive abilities are.
At the shooting guard position the Bulls have 3 new players to
rotate in a complete makeover from last season. Ronnie Brewer is the
frontrunner to earn the starting job, as he showed in Utah that he is a
good defensive player averaging over 1.60 steals per game and surely
Thibodeau will love him. His athleticism makes him a great threat to
score in a transition but like Derrick Rose he is far from being a
threat on the outside. This could be problematic because without having
any real good outside shooter in the starting lineup the Bulls are
somehow predictable on the offensive end.
In order to solve these potential problems the Bulls signed Kyle
Korver and Keith Bogans. Korver is a one-dimensional player that is
excellent in just 2 things: hitting treys and free throws. Last season
he hit 53.5% behind the arc and he is a 90% career player from the
charity stripe. He can’t defend at all but he is that kind of
situational player that any team loves to have in their roster. Keith
Bogans adds some toughness and depth to the backcourt.
Even though the Bulls wanted Lebron James to be the starting Small
Forward of the team they still have a solid SF in Luol Deng. Deng isn’t
or won’t be a truly Superstar in this league, but still he is a solid
player. Last season he averaged 17.6 points per game, while shooting
46.6% from the field and his 7.3 rebounds per game is the 3rd best mark
in the league amongst Small Forwards trailing only Gerald Wallace and
Kevin Durant. I expect him to improve his shooting % numbers, as being
the third offensive option he will have more room to operate. His
underrated defense will be a great help for Thibodeau in order to stop
Lebron James and Paul Pierce in the Eastern Conference. Behind him the
Bulls have James Johnson to develop without having the pressure to play
For the frontcourt the Bulls added their biggest piece in the off
season in Carlos Boozer. In the last years the Bulls didn’t have any
real offensive presence down low, Noah offers toughness and great
defense, but offensively he doesn’t have the skills to be “the man”.
Boozer on the other side has an array of post moves and offensive touch
around the basket. He has the ability to finish near the rim with
either hand, rebounds well, has a great looking stand-still and
fadeaway jumper, and has got some power in him too. Last season in Utah
he averaged 19.5pgg while shooting 56.2% from the field, he grabbed
11.2rpg and also dished a career high 3.2 assists per game. He was in
the final year of his contract but that doesn’t affect him on the
court. Will he have the same production in Chicago? That’s the key
question for the organization this season however he is a huge addition
for the team and his contract is affordable for the future.
Beneficing from the lack of inside presence in the roster, Taj
Gibson had a solid rookie season plenty of minutes played. Surely he
won’t average 26.9mpg this season, but his work ethic makes him a
perfect role player in this team and a great backup player for any
Joakim Noah is the emotional leader of this team and his development
last season was brutal! In my opinion he should be a legit candidate
for the Most Improved Player, as he improved in every relevant
statistic sheet: Points, Rebounds, Assists and Blocks per game. His
mark of 11.0 rebounds per game is terrific if we take in account that
he played “only” 30.1 minutes per game. Noah battled through the second
half of season with a left foot injury (plantar fasciitis) and it
looks that he’s completely recovered.
Kurt Thomas and Omer Asik are solid players to give some rest to
Noah. Thomas brings some veteran ship, but it is Omer Asik that can
offer some solid contribution. He showed some good signs in the FIBA
World Cup this summer playing for the hosts Turkey and his athleticism
is really impressing.
The Chicago Bulls will be one of the teams to follow this season.
Without Lebron James in the Central division, the Bulls will compete
with the Bucks for the division and for home court advantage through the