This Bulls team looks legit

When the news of Carlos Boozer's injury hit, I think most Bulls fans, including myself, went into survival mode.  Just make it through the first month of the season and hang around hoping that Boozer's reinsertion into the offense would help the team play up to their potential.

The reality is that the Bulls are 7-4 right now, which despite the small sample size, is on pace to win 52 games this season.   On top of that, the Bulls have already played some of the really tough games on the schedule.

When the season started, I figured this was probably a 41-43 team without Carlos Boozer on it.  We lack a secondary offensive creator, ball handling outside of Derrick Rose, and I thought our front court would struggle.   I also wasn't convinced the Bulls would shoot well enough from the perimeter.

Rose's brilliance and everyone's hard play would keep them at the water line, but not allow them to go much above it until Boozer came back. 

The results have proven much better though.

Looking back at the first 11 games of the season, you've got the following:

@Thunder (L)
Pistons (W)
Blazers (W)
Knicks (L)
@Boston (L) - OT
Denver (W)
GS (W)
Washington (W)
@Rockets (W)
@Spurs (L)
@Mavs (W)

Out of those 11 games, the only loss that you'd say the Bulls should have won was the game against the Knicks.  The Knicks pulled off a fluke night and an incredible shooting display that they'll never pull off again to win that game.

On top of that, the Bulls have lost road games to really good teams, and they weren't all that far away from winning any one of those games either.  The Boston game went to OT, the Spurs game was a 3rd Q collapse away from a victory, and the Thunder game the Bulls completed into the middle of the 4th and seemed to run out of steam.

Granted, teams that the Bulls beat, barring Golden State and Washington could largely be thinking the same thing about us, so we shouldn't get too cocky.

The thing is, in preseason, how many of these games would you expect the Bulls to win?    If you said 7, then you thought this team was great even without Boozer, and I confess, I certainly did not.

However, this team, as constructed, right now, without Boozer, is legit.   Derrick Rose has improved to the point of all-star lock and fringing on superstar.  He's still got things to work at, but defenses now use an absolutely ridiculous amount of resources to attempt to contain him and typically fail anyway.

Joakim Noah has proven that his high energy play can not be contained by focusing, that he has legit skills and can help dominate and take over games with his rebounding, passing, and even his offense has improved tremendously.   Taj Gibson, those two eyepoppingly bad nights aside, has played like a legit starting PF in the NBA.

Luol Deng has improved his shooting, and though he's struggled recently has looked like a quality third or fourth option for a team.  Korver, Brewer, Asik, and Watson are all starting to find their niches and contribute as well.

When Boozer comes back, there might be some initially stumbling over his integration into the offense and the rotation, but their front court depth will become unreal at that point.    Their offensive versatility will increase a ton as well.  

This team has played a 50+ win pace through a fairly difficult opening schedule without one of it's best players.    Right now, the bar has to be set at a minimum of 50 wins on the season with upside to 55+.   This team is legit, this team can beat anyone on any given night, and this team will be fun to watch in the playoffs.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • I think "legit" is relative. I thought the same things, but do you mean legit championship contenders? I think that is the question...

  • I still thinks this team needs a guy off the bench who can handle the ball and score. I don't think that C.J. Watson is good enough to be that guy

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    Watson can do both...

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    i think the bulls need to wait till the trade deadline, and then trade for john salmons so he can score 20 ppg for half a season and the playoffs and then trade him away again because he is gonna suck for any team that keeps him for more than half a season.. check his great start for the bucks 12 ppg on 37% shooting.. smells familiar

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Who would you give up for John Salmons' half a season with the Bulls again? You think the Bucks will take Scalabrine for John Salmons? LOL

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Both Salmons and Tyrus Thomas signed 5 year $40 million dollar contracts and are overpaid at $8mil per season. No team is looking to trade for them.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Yeah the Bulls are NBA relevant now. So I do like the word legit. Without Boozer they have showed they can be a strong team that can run with anyone. I think the Bulls are a top 3 team in the East. Their level of play, besides so slow 3rd quarters has been impressive. They have a lot of fight.

    1. Boston
    2. Orlando
    3. Bulls

    I think it will stay pretty much that way through the season. I think they might be better then ATL and the Heat.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    I

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    This Bulls team is definitely legit, I Just think they still need one more scoring threat. As I have stated before, Boozer will be a very big help when he returns but the Bulls cant run the pick and roll every play. If Deng or another one of the guys that start can't pick up their scoring efficiency they will be battling trying to come from behind in a lot of games. The Defense and rebounding needs to stay consistent as well. Korver needs to stay coming off the bench and Bogans needs to either start hitting some of the open looks that he gets or Brewer needs to start, which I don't think will help too much either as far as scoring but his defense and athletic ability would definitely be a plus. The Bulls need to make a trade for another scoring option cause A lot of other teams in the league have 4 and 5 guys that play on the wing that can flat out score and the Bulls should be no exception. In the past the Bulls have always had good scoring wing players and now the roles have reversed, the Bulls have good low post players and wing players who are inconsistent in scoring. IMO I feel like the BULLS NEED TO get the kind of impact players while Boozer still has some good years left cause at the age of 33 in 5 years for him, I really don't look for the Bulls to offer him another big contract or contract period if he lasts in Chicago that long. But this team is definitely right there, all they need is one more good scoring threat and they will be ready to contend for a championship.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    You say "a lot of other teams in the league have 4 or 5 guys that play on the wing who can flat out score", yet the Bulls are playing better than most of those teams. Why? Because they chose defensive minded wing players to go alongside Derrick Rose. One of which, Deng, is a damn good scorer whether you choose to admit it or not. If you stick a SG next to Rose who can score but isn't well above average defensively, and throw Melo in for Deng, you now have ZERO players that guard well at the perimeter. Your statement about lots of the teams in the league having a bunch of wing scorers speaks to the exact reason the Bulls as built are the perfect antidote. If you can't get the weapons to outshoot the other team, you get the weapons to out defend them, with wing defenders and a defensive phenom coach. Our setup can at least neutralize the perimeter battle, and once Boozer is back, along with Rose slashing, win the battle inside. It's quite the genius plan actually.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    You believe what you want to believe my friend cause I really do think you don't know what you are saying half of the time. We all want the Bulls to eventually contend for a championship and we all know except for you that this team is not quite an elite team yet, they are well on they're way though. If this team does not continue to improve whether it be this season or next, I will guarantee you some kind of trades will be made to get this team where they belong... ELITE STATUS!!!

  • In reply to Reese1:

    After they pay Rose his max contract, they may make some trades...not to be elite, but to get below the luxury tax.

    This is what worries me. If Reinsdorf wants to have an elite Bulls team, he will maintain his core players and build around them to get better, but he has to go over the tax (use San Antonio's and Lakers' blue print)

    You can tell that San Antonio is making it's last run because they convinced the owner to pay for RJ's contract while keeping Parker, Manu, and Tim. Tim Duncan also took a pay cut in order to compete.

    The Lakers are taking pay cuts in order to compete also. The Bulls are not taking pay cuts, the Bulls are more concerned about putting a decent group that will be below the tax to make it to the playoffs. Next year will be very interesting especially with the next CBA.

    I believe we have to prove that we can get past the 1st round first, before going over the tax. If we can win our division and conference, then we are that much closer to contending for the championship.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    When did I say we were elite? When did I say we shouldn't make a trade? Read the rest of this thread and tell me I'm the only one who thinks consistently say the exact same thing over and over and over again. You're like a cd that skips, annoying, and worthless.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I called 55 wins at the start, now I'm upping it to 58

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The Nuggets might actually start thinking about that Deng,Taj + draft pick deal for Melo right now.....as we are right now, we look really good. We have a lot of heart, we just cant score very well sometimes. hopefully Boozer will help with that and i hope he can make a quick transition into our lineup.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Whether it be Melo or a good shooting guard, the Bulls do need to make a move cause they are too close to contending for at least the east. They played Boston well in Boston and they have yet to play Miami so we can't measure them against the HEAT yet. They need someone who can offset Orlando cause even when Boozer returns, I think Noah and Boozer will be needed to slow him down. Deng would be perfect but he's just too inconsistent with his scoring. I hope the BULLS can come up with a nice addition to the team cause as I stated... THEY ARE ONE PIECE AWAY FROM CONTENDING for the conference and maybe a championship.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I meant to say the Bulls will need both Noah and Boozer to slow down Howard if they were to meet in a series against Orlando.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Can't wait for the podcast Doug!!

  • In reply to Reese1:

    This team is what some expected with skepticism. But if people are giving the Heat a reprieve because a lot of pieces are new....it is the same with the Bulls along with a new system. As somebody mentioned, with a healthy Noah, Taj, Deng and Rose...the Bulls would have won 50 games last year. The problem is for this team to be elite...are the match-ups with the top teams. I think we might surprise Orlando if Boozer is healthy and Asik picks up his game a little bit. The wildcard is the Heat..on how they gel and how our front court gels and expose their weaknesses. But that said, our perimeter defense has to improve against the good shooting teams for us to have a chance to be elite.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Boozer is the other scoring option, he is Melo at the power forward position.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    TOO LEGIT...TOO LEGIT TO...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdk1gwWH-Cg

    ...QUIT and win a championship. A 50-win season isn't the goal, is it?

    Don't settle people!!!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    We are not settling. We don't have control of the Bulls'payroll. You will know if the Bulls organization is contending for a championship when they start paying the tax and start paying for quality players.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to MrHappy:

    It's like winning a championship wouldn't even mean anything to you if Carmelo weren't on the team when it happened. This, I believe, is a sickness.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    I'm not nearly as surprised as you are, I picked this team as a 55 win team if healthy.

    The way I look at it during the stretch when Rose/Deng/Noah/Taj were all healthy last year we were playing like a 50 win team. Swap Kirk/Salmons/Tyrus/Miller/JJ for Watson/Brewer/Korver/Bogans/Asik into the rotation and we perhaps lose a bit, but the 4 returning players have all made improvement so it's a wash.

    So a 50 win team without Boozer but the rest of the guys healthy sounds about right to me.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    Watson appears to be getting better each game, so I still have hope that he can be what we thought he would be.

  • Bill Simmons made an interesting comment in his season preview about how the Rockets are a team that 4-5 years ago might be a 47 win team (used the 06-07 Bulls as one of his justifications) but because the league strength is better now they look more like a 35 win team.

    I think the league in general is brutal now, the top of the West is stronger than it was the middle of last decade too. Those Spurs teams wouldn't have a chance against the Lakers of the past 3 years.

  • The heat lose again lol and this the team everyone was suppose to fear. please give me a break

  • They can be ligit Eastern Conference contenders if they'd be willing to trade Deng, Gibson,JJ and Charlot's first round pick to Denver for Melo.

  • In reply to cleansupwell:

    Cause Melo can replace the intangibles that our 3 players provide (without the draft pick) right?

    If Carmelo goes to the Bulls, will Jerry Reinsdorf go over the luxury tax to pay for Rose's max contract and also get players to replace Deng and Gibson's contributions?

    So if one of your core players gets injured, do we have the depth to have someone step up? Look at Miami's team. Wade didn't play and Haslem got injured. Is Miami still an elite team?

  • In reply to cleansupwell:

    We are missing an integral part of the team (Boozer) and we are still winning games. Why is that? Because Derrick Rose is not producing by himself. Deng and Gibson is making contributions to win the game.

    Basketball is a team game and everyone plays a role in winning; the whole organization has a role in creating a contending team (from the athletic trainers to the coaching staff to the owners to the players).

    Now if we get Carmelo for junk, like how the Lakers got Pau Gasol, then we are moving towards the right direction, but we still have to go over the luxury tax to maintain the team. The Lakers didn't break up their core to trade for Pau.

    The Celtics are another example I want to use. They were one of the bottom teams before acquiring KG and Ray Allen. They pretty much rebuilt in one season and put together a contending team that year. They weren't a good team to begin with and they didn't have a good core to maintain. The Bulls are a good team right now because they have the right pieces, but if you break the pieces just to add one guy, are you really in a better situation? If the Bulls can pull off an equivalent to the Pau Gasol deal, then the organization will be applauded.

  • Randolph was just getting offensive rebound after offensive rebound down the stretch, and the Heat just didn't look like snatching one for themselves, they really lack in that area, especially now Haslem might be out for a while. Offensively with Wade out they don't look any better than the Cavs did, it's the LeBron show and you just gang up on him and hope whoever he throws it to doesn't hit enough shots to beat you.

    I still think they're the team to beat if they are healthy come the playoffs, but they're not the 73 win team people made them out to be.

  • You can just substitute the name of the blog each year, there's always some high profile disgruntled player that people want to trade for as though it doesn't take two sides to agree to a trade.

  • The have no heart. They are the complete opposite of our team. They walked around all summer thinking they had everything won in July. They though it'd be a cakewalk, that all their battles had already been won.

    Rude awakening. They don't have the heart the fight through it & push themselves, because that's why they're there in the first place, b/c they wanted to quit on their old teams, on take a ride on the gravy train.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Hey, we just want to chill man, stop busting my chops and telling me I have to work for it.

    Chris Bosh.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I'd still be concerned that the almost hilariously bad free throw shooting will cost the Bulls.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Doug, I know you were enthusiastic when writng this but "it's" is the contraction of "it is". The possessive of "it" is "its".

    I wouldn't harp on this except that the other blogger on the trib (Del Choc) should have his writing (and I use the term very loosely) credentials taken away. To plagarize and bastardize Yogi, half the time Choc's blog borders on gibberish, the other two-thirds rubbish.

  • I don't care if they are healthy come playoffs they will still have the same problems no pg or big men that can rebound the ball lebum and d-lame are the same players and bosh is a pussy

  • It's funny because they look good statistically from the beating up bad teams they've done. I think it's too early to tell what the case is, whether they've just been unlucky to lose close games, or whether they've just been lucky to get some blow outs.

    65-4 isn't on the cards either way.

  • with Boozer we should be able to compete with anybody in the league, besides the Lakers.

    We probably could have used a guy like Morrow off the bench as a second 3 point assasin, but despite Doug's protestations, in the playoffs defense becomes more important than offense.

  • Interesting that the Bulls posses both attributes that seem to be the key to beating the Heat.

    When Boozer returns we could be elite in both categories.

    We should be able to kill them on the boards and attack them with point guard play.

  • As I said continuously during the free agent frenzy, Bosh is a pansy and a pussy, always has been always will be.

    In fact hanging out in south beach will only serve to accelerate his pussification.

    That is why I would never have traded Noah for him.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    hahaha excellent

  • Yes I do agree that even team like the grizzlies showed up against the heat and beat them every team in the nba wanna beat these guys every team is gunning for them and they put it all on their selfs lmao

  • The suns are done! That should be a blow out for the bulls

  • I am pretty sure that somebody will take care of that for you on a near daily basis, initials M.P.(Mappy Pelosi)and if she doesn't her apprentice(Reesel, a.k.a. Darth Vadar)will.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I couldn't have said it any better.

  • Without Boozer this team is no better than last years team talent wise. But the difference between 7-4 and 4-7 is Thibs vs Del Bimbo.

    With Boozer(and TT), as I said before the season started, anything less than 50 wins is a failure, 55+ should be the expectation now that we have not buried ourselves in the absence of Boozer.

  • If Boozer can be integrated effectively I don't think the need for an upgrade at one or both of the wing positions will be as critical as it once was. Don't get me wrong, though. If the opportunity presents itself for the Bulls to pick up Melo without having to give up Noah, they should take it. But if Boozer can give the Bulls 18+ ppg, 9+ rpg, and buys into Thibs's defense schemes, the Bulls could improve beyond expectations.

    I predicted 51-54 wins from the addition of Boozer, Brewer, and Korver assuming only incremental improvement by Rose and Noah picking up where he left off last season before the injury. After Boozer's injury I bumped it down to 47-50. But I also said if Rose grew into a top 5 NBA player and Noah grew into a game-changer on par with Rodman or Ben Wallace in their respective primes, the new additions could make them legit title contenders.

    Well, even with the shortcomings that still exist in his game, I can't think of 5 players performing better than Rose right now. Whatever Noah lacks in defense and rebounding compared to Rodman and Ben Wallace, he is making up for with his scoring and passing. If Rose and Noah can play all season the way they have so far, Boozer can have an effect on the Bulls similar to the effect Gasol and Rasheed Wallace had on the last Lakers and Pistons title teams respectively.

    I'm not exactly predicting the Bulls will get to the Finals with Boozer (that's why I said "similar") but I wouldn't be overly surprised if they did. Boozer's scoring, passing, size on the defensive blocks and rebounding could have a ripple effect that maximizes everyone else's contributions. I can definitely see him elevating the Bulls to a top 3 team in the east and giving the other top teams all they can handle in the later rounds of the playoffs.

  • The key is to add a shooter without losing Deng's defense, it goes understated how important it is to have him on the opponent's top perimeter scorer, which is why the Melo deal would leave me with a sour taste, not that I wouldn't do it.

  • Rose can drive with the luxury of knowing that Noah or Boozer will likely be there for the put back, they can't keep Noah off the offensive boards..or boards period.

Leave a comment