How will the Bulls cope without Noah? Most likely, just fine.

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Obviously the Bulls aren't going to be better off without Noah.  They'll be hurt by the lack of depth.  They'll miss his rebounding, help defense, and hustle.   However, all is not lost.   Not even close.   The Bulls have quality depth to get through this period, and they'll better develop Asik through the process.  Also, they aren't exactly facing the stiffest of competition over this stretch.

  

Assuming Noah is gone for 10 weeks, and we'll assume he has surgery in the next few days sometime.    He'll be out roughly until the end of February.   For the sake of argument, we'll assume a March 2nd date against the Hawks is the game he comes back in.

The Bulls will play 35 games over that stretch.   That seems pretty gloomy.   However, looking at the schedule closely, and the Bulls will be favored (even without Noah) in the vast majority of these games.

In fact, the only games the Bulls will likely be underdogs in are the following:
Jan 8 Boston
Jan 15 Miami
Jan 20 Dallas
Jan 28 Orlando
Feb 7 @Portland
Feb 9 @Utah
Feb 12 @New Orleans
Feb 17 San Antonio
Feb 24 Miami

That's 9 games, most of which are at home, and the game against Portland the Bulls still might have the advantage in.   That leaves the  Bulls as favorites in the other 26 games.  

So the injury hurts, but it doesn't doom the season as it comes in a soft part of the schedule.   It's a good time for him to have the surgery as it gives him time to get healthy for the playoffs and to integrate with the team again once he's back.

While Noah is out, the real question will be how the Bulls manage the starting lineup.  They could start Boozer/Gibson and then bring Asik off the bench and utilize small ball more which is what I expect.   There's also some chance they start Asik and continue to bring Gibson off the bench against teams with legit size.

Kurt Thomas could be in the mix, but he's been awful so far in very limited time which is why I expect the small ball lineup with Asik getting a large minute increase being the most likely scenario.

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  • They still need to sign a center as Kurt Thomas can't play to save his life. Wouldn't surpise me if they went after Sheed

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    Sheed is retired.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    He told Thibs he wanted a job though.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    Wallace doesn't WANT to play basketball, even if you pay him too. He is definitely not the answer.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    i think he was joking

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Realistically, we have to be better than the Pacers... so I don';t think this is dooming our playoff hopes. It's just frustrating to not be able to watch our team full strength and be able to measure our abilities against our real competition. Glad its during our easy stretch, but I was hoping to see us mop up too.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    We should go after a Center ASAP. But who??

  • In reply to fsalomon:

    Eddy Curry! lol

  • In reply to fsalomon:

    I doubt we will, because anyone who is decent is already on a team. We'll just play Gibson/Boozer at the 5 more and Deng at the 4 more. Playing players a little out of position is better than playing scrubs.

  • In reply to fsalomon:

    Disappointing.

    I thought Noah was tougher than that. Oh well, Kurt Thomas will have to MAN-UP.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    It bummers my mood after hearing the news hopefully Noah have a speedy recover than expected.

    As for my reply to a certain poster, maybe you should man up and show how's it's done huh? :P

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    If the front court isn't doing well, are there any centers that are cheap yet practical for this team that can give us a boost. Would it be smart to get Hasheem Thabeet or Joel Pryzabilla?

  • In reply to rnohria310:

    Pretty sure neither of those guys can play in the NBA right now, and only one of them is injured

  • In reply to fsalomon:

    Noah is apparently has been playing with a torn ligament in the thumb on his shooting hand for 3 weeks. A torn ligament doesnt get fixed without surgery.

    Mr. Happy, are you trying to be a jackass so people will notice you? I mean it is kind of pathetic to be quoting Sarah Palin as a way to show how tough you are.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    This could be good for Asik's growth and confidence, learning to play starter minutes and working with the different roatations...if he can stay in the game without fouling out by the end of the half.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    Bulls should be ok but they will take a hit without their emotional leader.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    Kurt Thomas was huge for the Bucks last year after Bogut went down. He can definitely play some solid minutes, rebounding the ball and keep defenses relatively honest. This is why he was signed.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    I'd like to see Taj play some center with Deng at power and James Johnson at small forward while Boozer rests.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    I think this is all too optimistic. I mean, the last time noah was out, in march, the bulls lost 10 in a row. Of course it won't be near as bad this time, but it could easily cost the bulls 6 or 7 extra losses over that 35 game stretch, which can be the difference between a 3 and 6 seed in the playoffs. bad news indeed. Gonna really feel it on defense.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    The Bulls should still play above .500 ball during Noah's absence. If he misses around 35 games, the Bulls should win about 20 of them.

  • In reply to Dpauley23:

    The only good thing about Jo's injury is that we'll get to see what style of suits he'll be wearing while watching (and screaming, hopefully) from the sidelines.

  • Having Boozer and Asik rather than Miller and Richard makes a huge difference too. Noah out last year was a disaster that made nearly every game an uphill slog. Noah out this year is just something that maybe costs you a few games.

  • I feel like Gibson and Asik can do reasonably well defensively, I worry that his offensive rebounding and ball handling will be missed though.

  • Hope we hold on to the central? Wow your expectations have taken a major beating, I'm still optimistic we can hold onto the 3 seed.

    Pushing the Magic down into the 4 seed is hugely important, since it likely gives the Bulls Boston as the second round opponent (IMO the Heat will take the East as the Celtics will slow down the second half of the season and rest their old guys).

  • We usually see Skiles teams coming back in the second half of the season. But im wondering if he is starting to wear down on his team just like he did with the bulls?

  • They're still shooting 41% for the season. I mean they'll obviously have some games where their offense isn't a complete train wreck and beat good teams, but I just don't see them being much more than a .500 team.

  • Its odd though they have been doing well in their small stretch, with not so great defenders and John Salmons being abs ineffective this season and not earning his 6 million dollars. If Brandon Jennings or Andrew Bogut goes out for a while (which is very likely in about a month or two) I think they are going to be a 7th or 8th seed team.

  • They were 24-28 until the Bulls gave them John Salmons. Just like with the Bulls John Salmons played like a world beater for the rest of the season after being traded. Just like with the Bulls this year John Salmons is playing like a pile of crap.

  • More so Bogut than Jennings, it's not that hard to find point guards who aren't great passers and miss most of their shots.

  • The league should throw us some trade exception money like Portland/Oden & Miami/Haslem! They should be able to do that though, right?

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    I hope they do that...That would be a great way to acquire a little bigger salary like a Rip Hamilton or Jason Richardson if we can trade a couple of players and use that exception rather than losing depth.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    No, we don't want that. The player has to be out for the year to get an injured player exception.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    The player has to be judged as having a low probability of returning for the regular season to get this exception. If it turns out they can return, the team still gets to keep the exception. So if Haslem comes back this season, Miami will still be able to keep whoever they acquire using the exception.

  • In reply to punkedgepc:

    Yeah obviously they're not going to rescind the exception if it turns out the guy makes a quicker recovery. What I meant is we don't want the doctors telling us Noah is out for the season!

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Can we get one for Bogans? His shot is broken, and looks to be out for the entire season.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    VOTE FOR ROSE GUYS! HE IS CURRENTLY 3RD BEHIND RONDO & WADE!!!!!

    Everyone here should be voting for him everyday. Its a crime if he doesn't start, but only us Bulls fans WOULD BE TO BLAME.
    Vote now:
    http://www.nba.com/allstar2011/asb/eng/ballot.html

    AND DON'T FOR FOR RONDO OR WADE AS YOUR OTHER GUARD!

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Just so Mr. Happy is clear on Noah's toughness:

    "He's a warrior for playing through it," Boozer said.

    Added Kyle Korver: "He hasn't said a word about it all year. We've all seen the wrap on his hand. You look at it and it's swollen. You ask how it is and he just says it's fine."

  • Not really, this year the teams are pretty weak after the 6th seed unless they are doing terrible and want to tank to get a good lotto pick.

  • True, but how many of the bottom teams have a good chance of pulling a string of wins together to beat out the bucks if they can pull out a good streak till one of them gets injured , unless there is a big blockbuster deal for Melo goes to the Nets.

  • In reply to rnohria310:

    Philly have won 6 of 8, I think they're a good chance at the 8 seed still.

  • In reply to rnohria310:

    Ya how does all of that work??

  • I for one think that the Bulls will struggle to be a .500 team in Noahs absence. 17-18, or 18-17 over the next 35 games might be optimistic. If we lose the 9 games that Doug listed, then we have to go 18-8 in the remaining 26 games, that does not seem likely without Noah.

    We are going to have to win with offense, as we just became a below average defensive team.

    Asik should start against legit centers, not sure that either Taj or Boozer can really play center for extended minutes. I hope to see more of both Asik and JJ, but seeing Thibs so far, I bet we see too much of Thomas.

    Could the silver lining of this injury be that we finally get rid of Bogans.

    The loss of Noah diminishes my desire to watch this team by at least 50%.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    IMO we don't see a lot of JJ or Thomas, we'll see a similar sort of rotation as when Boozer was out, which means a lot of Deng at the PF position and with Taj playing the center. Kurt Thomas has played 12 garbage time minutes this season, just because there's an injury isn't going to push him into a major role when there are rotation players who can cover it.

    Anyway I think assuming the Bulls lose all 9 hard games listed is a false premise. And as far as the rest goes, the Bulls haven't lost to an average or below average team all season, now you think 18-8 is unlikely?

    I like Noah but to say we'll struggle to hit .500 without him just seems way out there. The Bulls are playing like a 55 win team even without Boozer for part of the season! Now you're saying Noah is worth a near 20 win turn around in fortune? That's rare territory that perhaps only the top 5 players in the game occupy.

    I'm calling it that the Bulls continue to win around 2/3 of their games overall and are still in the 3rd seed when Noah gets back. Provided everyone else is healthy of course (touch wood!)

  • I have to believe that Asik will break the single season record for fouling out in the next 35 games.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    IMO Asik plays at most 18 minutes a game so I doubt he fouls out much. I think Deng will be seeing more minutes at PF and Boozer/Gibson at C more so than Asik's minutes increase a lot.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Seeing how Asik seems to have 2 fouls within 20 seconds of checking into the game every game, I wouldn't doubt it.

    As long as a couple of them are solid fouls that leave bruises, I'm fine with it.

  • You guys seem to be forgetting about the Knicks who just tonight gave the Celtics with a healthy Garnett everything that they could handle.

    If the Knicks keep it up and the Hawks are the Hawks we are already battling Milwaukee and everyone else for the 6th seed.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    No we're not, the division winner gets the 4th seed at worst (although without home court, so in effect the 5th seed).

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I believe that would be the 4rth seed without home court advantage. So I guess that would at least get us out of playing the Celtics, Magic, or Heat in the first round.

  • Agreed Mitchell. Happy's just being a troll.

    This will give other players more minutes which in the long run will help come playoff time. In the interim I hope Noah makes a speedy recovery. p.s. hopefully it won't hurt his ability to bang hot chicks!!!

    Go Bulls!!!

  • I think Joakim's assists/helping facilitate this offense/ball flow is going to be one of the things most missed. Others/someone will have to pick up the slack in that department. I mean he's almost like a point forward at times distributing from the top of the key/foul line.

  • I feel sadness that hes going to miss Jan. 15 and not be able to call LeBron a bitch. Wait, he was on the sideline for that last year. Nevermind. Although he won't get a chance to manhandle Bosh.

  • Asik Gut Check

    I'll miss Noah. Funny how this works out. He'll be rested by the time he comes back to the Bulls.

    In the meantime, we'll find out how good Omer Asik can become. We already know he clogs up the middle on defense. Perhaps we can show him old Tom Boerwinkle training films. He's a lot faster than TB, and TB wasn't so bad in retrospect on a team where everyone else could shoot.

  • and I believe that he had a reasonable mid range jumper from the elbow.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Asik is shooting 100% from mid range this year. Admittedly he's only taken one shot ...

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