Thursday, July 29, 2010

New-Look Bulls Built To Win

Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman (left) and Exec. VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson (right) 
At the beginning of July, every Bulls fan was dreaming of the next “dream team.” The Bulls cleared cap space for a “first tier” free agent like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh, and Bulls fans dreamed of another dynasty.

But things turned out a little different than most Bulls fans originally expected. Wade, the Chicago native, decided to stay put in Miami. Chris Bosh also decided to join the Heat. And as we all know, LeBron made “the decision” to take his talents to South Beach.

This left teams all around the NBA angry (see Dan Gilbert) and left without an answer. However, to the Bulls credit, they decided to be proactive. They may not have signed Wade, Bosh, or Wade, but during the past month, the Bulls have made themselves a championship contention.

It started on June 5th when the Bulls hired Tom Thibodeau, a former assistant with the Boston Celtics. Known as a defensive guru, Thibodeau was a key part of the Celtics’ success, which includes a championship in 2008, and nearly another one in 2010.
Ray Allen (left) talking w/ Thibbs during the NBA Finals

As an assistant in Boston, Thibodeau coached Kevin Garnett, one of the best defensive players of the past decade. He was also a huge part in the development of young point guard Rajon Rondo. Even in their loss to the Lakers during Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the Celtics displayed their defensive dominance, as they held the Lakers to 32% and just 83 points.

Thibodeau joins a Bulls team that barely snuck into the playoffs in 2010, and was eventually eliminated by LeBron and the Cavaliers. However, GM Gar Foreman has quickly built the Bulls into a title contender.

The first big addition was Carlos Boozer, the 6’9 superstar power forward from the Utah Jazz. Boozer was signed on July 7th, just one day before LeBron James made his decision. At this point, it appeared the Bulls were out of contention for James, so Foreman acted quickly, and brought in Boozer.

Boozer brings the Bulls the physical post presence that they’ve been look searching for. During the 2009-10 season, Boozer averaged 19.5 points per game and 11.2 rebounds per game. Expect big contributions from Boozer on offense and defense, but more importantly, he will take pressure off of young Bulls center Joakim Noah.

With the departure of Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls were desperately in need of a guard. They turned to 6’7 shooting guard Ronnie Brewer, formerly of the Memphis Grizzlies. Brewer averaged 8.8 ppg in 2009-10, but did so on a losing team. With all due respect to Memphis, the Bulls will be much better than the Grizzlies, and expect Brewer to be a big factor.

With his big frame, Brewer gives the Bulls a slasher on offense, something they haven’t had for a while.

The Bulls didn’t stop there. Badly in need of a shooter, they again looked in Utah, and signed Kyle Korver. Korver is widely known as one of the best pure shooters in the league. He boasted a 53% three-point field goal percentage in 2009-10, and gives the Bulls a much-needed sharp shooter from beyond the arc.

Ronnie Brewer throws it down against the Hawks
The Bulls have filled in the roster by adding key role players like guard C.J. Watson, who was brought in from Golden State in a sign and trade. In addition to Watson, the Bulls finally signed center Omer Asik, who they had taken in 2009.

After a lengthy wait for his arrival, Asik will finally bring his 7’0, 255 lb. frame to Chicago, where he will come off the bench and be a key role player.

These key new additions will join a roster loaded with star power. They will join 21-year old point guard Derrick Rose, the undisputed star of the team. Rose is the whole package on both ends of the court, but for the first time, he has a talented supporting cast, meaning good things lie ahead for Rose.

Joakim Noah is the Bulls’ man in the middle, and he will be a completely different player with a new and improved supporting cast.

The Bulls took a brief glance at aging veteran Tracy McGrady, but it appears that he is unlikely to sign. With open roster spots remaining and plenty of cap room to spare, the Bulls are likely to sign a few more role players for the bench. Signs point to the Bulls adding either Roger Mason Jr., Keith Bogans, or Rudy Fernandez.

Kyle Korver (left) & Carlos Boozer @CBoozTheBull (right) all smiles
The Bulls may not have landed LeBron, Wade, or Bosh, but that’s ok. The NBA’s Eastern Conference will be a hotly contested conference, and the Bulls appear ready to contend. The Bulls are lacking the glitz and glamour that Miami now has, but they do have a team built to win.

The Bulls have a new coach and new additions like Boozer, Brewer, Korver, and other key role players. The Bulls won’t have the star power of Miami, Boston, or Los Angeles, but they don’t need it. They have one of the best rosters in the NBA, and they are most definitely a contender for a championship.

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