The Bulls lost Ben Gordon this off-season via free agency to the Pistons, but the nucleus is there for the team to do well going forward. They traded for John Salmons and Brad Miller at the trading deadline last year, which turned out to be a great move. What Derrick Rose did with this team as a rookie was great and point guards tend to make jump in year two, which could be scary for the other teams in the Eastern Conference. Can the Bulls be better in 2009-10, even though they lost Ben Gordon?
With a rookie head coach, Vinny Del Negro, and a rookie point guard, Rose, the Bulls made the playoffs last year. They had a much better 2nd-half of the season, thanks to the Salmons/Miller trade. Del Negro did some good things, but still has a lot to do to make the next leap and get this team a higher seed and make it to later rounds of the playoffs. The Bulls/Celtics playoff series last year was one of the best in the history of the NBA, unfortunately it was a first-round match-up. Both of the teams deserved to move on in that series, it was amazing. Ben Gordon was a big part of that series, they will miss him, but with Salmons having an off-season to get familiar with the team, he could turn into something more special.
The back-court on the Bulls is the biggest asset to the team. Rose and Salmons will be great and Kirk Hinrich will be backing up Rose and play some two-guard as a 6th man. They could benefit from adding some depth at SG/SF, since the only Jannero Pargo is listed as the back-up an either of those positions. Depth will be an issue and if an injury occurs at either SG/SF, they could be in trouble.
The front-court needed a veteran and by adding Brad Miller, it happened. He can mentor Aaron Gray, Joakim Noah, and Tyrus Thomas and help them develop into great players. Noah and Thomas will be battling for playing time, but Thomas was trade bait this off-season, but nothing happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is moved for back-court depth at some point this season. James Johnson and Taj Gibson were drafted and just waiting for an opportunity at PF, which Gibson could see time in the D-League to save a roster spot.
Do I think that the Bulls will be a better team without Ben Gordon? Yes I do, let me explain why. Gordon has never really developed into a consistent starter in the NBA. He could come off the bench and put in 20 points in the 4th quarter, but in many of those games, they were already behind and he didn’t help. Don’t get me wrong, Gordon is a good player, but John Salmons is the starting SG that this team needed. I think Derrick Rose will get the best out of the players on this team and with a few signings next off-season, they could be one of top teams in the league. The team could be a year or two away, but with the decline of the Celtics on the horizon during that time span and the possibility of Lebron James leaving Cleveland, there will be a spot in the Eastern Conference there for them.
My prediction for the Bulls is for them to end up as a 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. Their overall record will be around 53 win team and do well in the playoffs next season. I see great things for them this year and their future is even brighter. If they can build from the solid performance last season, 53 wins is very attainable. Derrick Rose could be an MVP candidate if they surpass 53 wins and he could turn into what Chris Paul has been the last two seasons. Chicago will be better than last year and the games against Detroit will be very fun to watch.