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Don't Expect Too Much From Your 2010-2011 Chicago Bulls.....

Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.

Tonight the most anticipated NBA regular season in recent memory begins on the local level as the Chicago Bulls begin their 2010-2011 season in Oklahoma City.  With new Head Coach Tom Thibodeau at the helm and a roster that is 75% new to wearing the red and white, the Bulls go into the season projected by many to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.  Of course with any new season fans are going to project where they believe this team finishes in a Eastern Conference and a league that is extremely "top heavy."
By "top heavy" I mean you can look at the NBA and pretty much know exactly which teams will be at the top of the league.  More than any sports league, the NBA is the most predictable American sport in the land and I believe to a certain extent that does not help.  In the NFL, NHL, and MLB you do not have players scheming to team up with one another to "dominate" the league (see the Miami Heat).  You know that the Lakers will rule the west, and the east is a battle among the Celtics, Magic and Heat to see who will lose to the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Am I wrong?
But in a league that is so predictable, how predictable are the Chicago Bulls?  With a record of 41-41 in each of the last two seasons making the postseason both years, what defines a successful year for the Chicago Bulls?

Although the Chicago Bulls were rumored to land one of "the big three" this off season and came up short, the Bulls have made some smart additions with the salary cap space they created this past summer.  The Bulls let go of Kirk Hinrich but added sharpshooter Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.  The Bulls traded Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons last season and signed Carlos Boozer and defensive specialist Keith Bogans.  Also with the additions of C.J. Wilson, Brian Scalabrine, and rookie center Omer Asik; the Bulls look like a well balanced team of scoring and defense.
First year Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was the defensive specialist of the Boston Celtics for the past three seasons making the NBA Finals twice winning once.  I like the hire of Thibodeau because it is a major upgrade from the former head coach Vinny Del Nergo.  The Bulls choose to go with a guy who had two decades of experience coaching in the NBA at some level over a former color commentator/assistant general manager with no coaching experience.  How much does a head coach matter in the NBA is up for debate, but the fact that the Bulls went out and got not only the biggest name available but the most experienced name on the market tells me the Bulls are serious about being much better than a .500 team.
Although the Bulls missed out on LeBron, Wade, and Bosh....they gave it their best shot.  Meeting with Wade not once but twice and talking to LeBron for more than two hours this summer, the Bulls may have struck out in the eyes of the national media but the additions they made make them not only a legit foe in the east but a possible contender.   
Although the Bulls will be short handed without Carlos Boozer until mid November, I still believe the Bulls will be better than a .500 team this season.  Another year of development from Derrick Rose will also help including his short stint playing overseas in the FIBA World Basketball Championships earning his first gold medal.  Entering his third season, I truly believe the sky is the limit for the local product from Simeon.  Also the Bulls locked up Joakim Noah with a five year deal this pre-season showing they believe he is more valuable to the organization than Carmelo Anthony, who Noah was rumored to be traded for this past month.  Although I believe the more "stars" you have on a team the better your team will be, it will be interesting to see how Noah develops as a defender/rebounder under the coaching of Tom Thibodeau.   
I truly believe that the Chicago Bulls will only go up and beyond most expectations if Luol Deng can show up to the party and produce.  Deng had a stellar pre-season averaging 16 points per game shooting 50% from the field averaging 28 minutes per game.  The number seven overall pick in the 2004 draft has not lived up to the 71 million dollar deal he signed in 2008 due to lack of production and numerous injuries.  Remember that time when the Bulls stated that Deng was "undergoing active rest" and was "encouraged to challenge himself physically"?  At that point you would have thought not only Bulls' fans, but the Bulls themselves had lost all faith in Luol Deng as a NBA basketball player.  If Deng can continue his surprising pre-season into the regular season, the loss of Boozer will be minimized greatly and the Bulls will fair better than expected because of it.
A new head coach with a strict defensive mind set, a roster that is more balanced than in previous years, and the LeBron effect further making the Eastern Conference more "top heavy" than ever.....the Bulls could be pretty good.  I am not going to say I expect the Bulls to compete in the NBA Finals, but I do expect 45-50 wins and a playoff berth.  Expecting anything more from this club with a lot of new pieces and new leadership at the top to be 50+ win material in its first year together I believe is acting foolish.  It takes time for teams to gel and understand how to work in a system and the Bulls need time to do so.   
Although the Bulls are headed for a 45+ win season and a playoff berth only to fall short of the big three in the east (Orlando/Miami/Boston), the buzz surrounding this NBA season is promising for a league that is talking contraction in recent weeks.  The NBA is bigger than it has been since the days a man named Jordan played the game, and that not only benefits a small market team in Miami but the NBA as a whole.  Love or hate what happened during this past off season, in the end it is good for the league.
My official prediction for the 2010-2011 Chicago Bulls:
Final Record: 46-36
Lose in second round of the playoffs to ORL/MIA/BOS
Go Bulls!
Rock Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show at co-host of The Joe O And Rock Show on WSCR 670AM The Score
You can follow The Mully And Hanley Morning Show at
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webbtman said:

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Enjoyed the read, but I disagree on you on a key contention. Taking into account the East has gotten stronger I believe the Bulls are a better team than last year. Last year the Bulls were a 46-50 team, they would have won that many games if Jo had not been hurt. I think even with Boozer's absence they can get to 46 wins. With Boozer they can approach 50+ barring any key injuries.

Rock Mamola said:



To be honest, on paper they look like a better team....but it's going to take time for them to gel. That's why I say don't expect TOO much from them. I think they will be a good team, but don't project 50 wins with this roster as fresh as they are.

Thanks for checking out the post...

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