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2009-10 NBA Preview: Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls had one of the best playoff series ever against the Boston Celtics last year. Unfortunately for fans, it was in the first round, but the level of play in that series was only equaled by the NBA Finals. Derrick Rose had a great rookie season and a late-season trade with the Kings was the best trade deadline transaction last year. Will the Bulls miss Ben Gordon? Can Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah finally develop? Here is our 2009-10 NBA Preview for the Chicago Bulls.

Additions/Subtractions – I’m not going to say that the Chicago Bulls will not miss Ben Gordon, but he wasn’t a starter on Chicago. He may have played starter minutes as the sixth-man, but he was very inconsistent. When they made the trade with the Kings last year to acquire John Salmons, he was their insurance policy if Gordon left in the off-season. This team shouldn’t look that different from the team that lost against the Celtics in the first-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Jannero Pargo is with the team again after being with the Hornets the last two seasons, they signed the often banged-up Jerome James, and they have two very good draft picks. James Johnson will be a work in progress with a very high upside and Taj Gibson could be more NBA-ready. They expect big things from these guys and they should be starters in a couple years.

2009-10 Expectations – NBA teams aren’t supposed to have playoff seasons with a new coach and rookie point guard, but Chicago did that. They set the bar high for this season with the great playoff series against the Celtics last year and the emergence of Derrick Rose as a NBA superstar. The expectations for this team is very high and anything less than a playoff appearance would be disappointing. They have to get to the 2nd round for this team to feel good about the season. Derrick Rose had an injury and will start the season a little banged up, but the Bulls will be a very fun team to watch. They have players that can fun the fast break and with Brad Miller, a true low-post center. Chicago wants Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas to take it to the next level and live up to their high draft pick status. Thomas was rough when the Bulls drafted him and has had moments of looking like a future star, but he isn’t consistent. Noah has developed into a good rebounder, but his offensive game hasn’t improved very much.

2009-10 Prediction – This team is full of winnners at the collegiate level. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Tyrus Thomas all were on winners in college and sometimes that’s all a team needs, players who know how to win. I believe Chicago has the ability to win close games. Derrick Rose and John Salmons will be All-Stars this season. Chicago could use some more depth at small forward, if can get a deal for a nice back-up SF near the trade deadline, they should jump at that. The Bulls will start off slow, but as they usually go, turn it up in the 2nd-half of the season and get into the playoffs. I don’t see a huge jump in their win total, but they should end up as the #5 or #6 seed and hopefully avoid the Boston Celtics in the first-round of the playoffs.

2009-10 Win Total – 46-36

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Are The Chicago Bulls Better in 2009-10?

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.

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Chicago Finds A Coach, Finally

Vinny Del Nego was named as the coach of the Chicago Bulls. It was a long search for Chicago with names like Doug Collins and Mike D’Antoni being lead candidates at one time. D’Antoni took the job in New York and Doug Collins didn’t seem like he wanted to coach. The hire of Del Negro makes sense, but only in Chicago. The Bulls and Bears both have a long history of giving coaches their first chance. They didn’t give him a long contract (2-years) and they didn’t have to pay a huge amount to him, a classic Chicago move. He has never even called a time-out in the NBA as a coach, but for some reason I think that Del Negro will be helpful with some front office decisions, as well as coaching.

I remember when Del Negro was a player in the NBA, he kind of reminded me of Steve Nash. He was never a prolific scorer, even though he had a nice 3-point shot, but he was get in the paint and dish the ball. His style would translate in today’s game more than in the 90s when he played. I found an old youtube video of him, my favorite part is him dishing it off to Will Perdue. If anyone could make Will Perdue look good, it would be Del Negro.I have a few words of advice for Vinny Del Negro. I’m not sure if that hairstyle is going to fly in the NBA. I don’t know how to describe it, but it is blow-dryed and parted in the middle. Looks like he uses the shampoo that gives him extra body. I would lose the hair-dryer and maybe invest in some gel. He kind of reminds me of Fredo Corleone, the weaker brother in the Godfather movies. I hope he doesn’t get whacked in a boat like poor Fredo.

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