That was the moral of the story for Chicago Bulls fans all of last season. Neither team made many changes this offseason, so it should continue to be a tough, closely contested game when these two teams meet on December 16 in Chicago, as well as their tilt in Memphis on April 5. Eh, we’ll see. After languishing through a decade of muddled results and disappointments, they struck gold with the 2008 draft and hometown kid, Derrick Rose. Even rested, how much more are Rose, Noah, Gasol or Gibson are going to improve?
This loss proved to be too much for the Bulls as they lost the next two games to once again be eliminated from the playoffs by LeBron James.
Will Derrick Rose stay healthy? The Bulls have battled over the years without their franchise player and they have been right in the mix come playoff time. There will be a new system, and a new way things are done following the departure of Tom Thibodeau. In addition to its star players, watch for Nikola Mirotic to continue progressing after a breakthrough second half. Doug is a pure shooter which is ideal for the new offense that Hoiberg is installing with the Bulls. The positives are abundant.
The answer to the next question was the one the All-Star forward wasn’t as sure about. Noah, Gasol, Taj Gibson, Kirk Heinrich, and Mike Dunleavy are all 30 or older, and while Rose is 27 there is some heavy mileage on those legs. But there’s no reason why this team shouldn’t be among the few squads entering the season with legitimate title hopes.
Considering he played in just 36 regular-season games last season and averaged 3.0 points per game, he has to do his share of convincing.
The other hurdle facing the Bulls is with Joakim Noah. If his legs are fresher, he could be an even better defender this year. Hoiberg may tweak the system, but the Bulls defense should still be top 10. In fact, there aren’t a whole lot of players in the entire league who have the ability to do what he does, and thankfully we saw in the postseason past year that the explosive first step is still there even after all the knee issues.
The core of this team at the moment is Rose, Butler, Noah, Gibson and Gasol, and Hoiberg has to manage the minutes of these five players efficiently for the Bulls to succeed. In Chicago, his primary job will be to put Rose in a position that benefits both the player and the team. Nobody thought the Bulls were going to have any better odds than now making this the year; they had to win it all. It is one of the triumphs I have enjoyed most.
Will it make the Bulls better? All they needed is an offence that plays to their strengths and spreads the wealth. No doubt about it, he’s one of the most important players the Bulls have. “We won the championship by paying attention to details, rolling our sleeves up in defense and pulling together all the time”, shared an ecstatic Pau Gasol following the victory of Spain in the EuroBasket finals, according to Marca.com. That’s a conversation Hoiberg and Rose need to have, if it hasn’t happened already.
So will he thrive coming off what was basically a redshirt year? His half court sets have a lot of weakside movement, which is a needed change. But he looks like he has it in him. His career goal growing up was to be Batman. Taj is a vital piece to the Bulls so they can’t rush him back to the floor until his ankle is 100%. The belief being that Hoiberg will allow his players the offensive freedom that Thibodeau never did. That, combined with Noah’s issues and Rose’s fragile knees, make for some frightening basketball this season. Forman and Paxson had enough and were ready to move on to a different coach.
In the playoffs WHEN the Bulls and Cavs meet, will the Bulls finally beat LeBron? Hoiberg is supposed to be the shot in the arm that the team needs, but if he can’t do anything with this team either, it might just be that the roster isn’t talented enough.