A Bulls overview for the Bears fan looking for a bandwagon

I was debating with a friend of me, is it more painful to lose in the superbowl or more painful to lose to the Packers in the NFC title game?   I'm not sure of the answer to that question, but I do know that it's no fun to Be a Bears fan right now.

Now you could simply sit in your misery until September, or perhaps until baseball season starts, but really, baseball season's merely going to compound that misery even more isn't it?

What you could do instead is take in some Chicago Bulls basketball and watch one of the rising young superstars of the NBA.  A Chicago kid.   A humble kid.  The kind of player you like to root for.   It's difficult to imagine a player who you'd want to win more than Derrick Rose, and he wants it just as badly.

  

So if you're just coming out of your football oriented man cave, here's a brief overview of everything you need to know about the Chicago Bulls.

Derrick Rose is a legitimate superstar

Through his first two years, Rose was hyped as a future superstar.   I didn't think he had it in him to get there.   His hype greatly exceeded his performance.  He was really good, but he was far from greatness.

I was wrong. 

Derrick Rose has ascended to a legitimate superstardom level.   Teams play the Jordan rules on him.  Double teaming him behind the three point line with two guys ready to step up and defend him in the paint after he breaks through the double team.  

Despite playing much of this season without a legitimate second scoring option, Rose has dropped phenomenal numbers.   At one point, he was a one way player, but even that can't be said anymore as he's transformed into a good defender.  

Derrick Rose is a legitimate top 5 in the NBA candidate.   The only player who's clearly better in my opinion is LeBron James.   Everyone else is an argument (though Kobe, Wade, and Howard might win that argument, it's still an argument).

Joakim Noah is a crapload better than you think he is

There is this wide spread belief that Noah is simply a hustle player or a defender.   However, this is simply not true.   In fact, the Bulls miss Joakim on offense more so than on defense right now.   Noah provides many fairly unique attributes out of the center position that aren't as obvious to the casual fan but make a huge difference in how teams can defend the Bulls.

1: He's an exceptional ball handler for his size.   Joakim can take the rebound and lead a fast break.   You typically don't want your center doing this, but the ability for the center to initiate the break for the first 10 feet and then pass the ball up while on the move and fill the lane really causes tremendous havoc for the opposing defense.

His ability to handle the ball also makes it very easy for the Bulls to break back court presses, because Noah's so athletic that the opposing center isn't going to try and chase him around in the backcourt, because he'll get beat off the dribble and create an opening for the Bulls.

2: He's an exceptional interior passer.   Noah has never been known as a great low post scorer, but it's easy to run your offense through him because he passes so well.   He hits cutters to the basket, runs the give and go, and can kick it out to the perimeter if teams leave someone open.   

3: His low post game isn't as bad as you think.   He's not Ben Wallace down there, and he does create his own shot in the post.  More often he passes out to an open man, but if teams defend him with a smaller body, Noah can go up and score on them.

4: His jumper looks funny, but it's not that bad.   He's not a dead eye mid range shooter by any stretch, but he's around a 40% guy from there, and as long as he has time to get his fairly slow, low release off, his accuracy is pretty good.   Teams that simply dare Noah to beat them by leaving him wide open typically lose that dare.

5: Defensively, he's not great on man defense in the paint against big bodies.   This causes some to question what type of defender he is.  However, he's a magnificent help defender and can man up on guards on a pick and roll switch and play them effectively.   Last season, Noah shut down Chris Paul, one of the fast guards in the league, on two consecutive plays when isolated after a pick and role switch.   The value in that is tremendous as there might not be another center in the league who can do that.

Luol Deng's contract stinks, but he doesn't

You may have heard die hard Bulls fans wanting to jettison this guy.   However, right now the Bulls won't get any significant value  for Deng in terms of players, and the salary relief is meaningful.   Lost in the fact that Dengs contract isn't pretty on the books is that Dengs a darn good basketball player.

He's been the Bulls best perimeter defender all season long, and he's routinely done a magnificent job defensively.      His offense is hit or miss, but he's added a three point shot to his arsenal to help space the floor for Rose and typically does a decent job of getting to the free throw line.

Deng's Achilles heal is that he can't create his own shot in isolation.   As such, many people think he stinks.    However, he typically knows his strengths and weaknesses and plays within his game.   When his offense stinks, he almost always contributes big on the defensive end and on the glass.

By the way, his contract is 30% deferred, so the cash value of it isn't nearly as bad as the cap value.   This means that the owners aren't hurt nearly as much in the pocketbook as they are in terms of salary cap which could make the contract more movable than many people think.

Carlos Boozer has given the Bulls the post offense they've been looking for forever but it comes at a cost

Boozer is a guy you'll love and you'll hate.   His offense is something the Bulls have desperately needed, and he can spell Rose because the Bulls can dump the ball into him and let him create his own shot and get a high percentage look out of it. 

For a long time, the Bulls have lacked isolation scorers, and they haven't had a big man isolation threat since Eddy Curry.   Boozer provides that, and there are times where it makes life much easier for the Bulls.

On top of that, Boozer fits well into a pick and pop or pick and roll game with Derrick Rose.  He's done a good job finishing at the basket and knocking down his jumper when teams double Derrick.   Boozer is doing a nice job of lifting the Bulls offense.

The downsides to Boozer are that the defense simply isn't that good.  He often doesn't get out to defend stretch fours (power forwards who can shoot), and he frequently gives up on making a defensive play in order to secure rebounding position if the player misses. 

On offense, the Bulls generate a lot of turnovers trying to feed Boozer, and Boozer generates quite a few himself with ball handling turnovers and offensive fouls.  

These weaknesses are all worth it as Boozer gives the Bulls offense a ton of versatility, but there are times they will have you pulling your hair out.

Keith Bogans starts, but he's not really a starter

People have been really upset with Bogans starting the game.  I've been leading the charge.   However, it's worth noting that he simply doesn't play many minutes, so while the problem of Bogans playing has been a problem, it's not as big of one as it can be made out to be.

We simply need to find something to bitch about, because we don't want to spend all day patting the Bulls on the back, it's not really conversational.

As for his play, it's been much better lately.  At his best, he defends well and knocks down open jumpers.  Early in the season he was defending terribly and shooting terribly, but he's done better at both recently.

Ronnie Brewer is a defensive spark off the bench

He absolutely terrorizes opposing offenses at times.  He's the Ben Gordon of defense (or the Manu Ginobili of defense for you Gordon haters).   He comes in disrupts the passing lanes, gets physical with the opposing guard and really takes teams out of their game.

He can't shoot threes to save his life, but his mid range shot is decent despite the funky release and he uses his athleticism to get a lot of finishes at the basket.  He's a very smart player and knows where to move if the defense cheats off of him to get easy looks and thus typically generates around 12-14 points per 36 minutes of high efficiency offense.

Kyle Korver proves that three point percentage isn't a good indicator of how good a shooter you are

Watching how much space is on the floor when Korver is out there versus how much space is on the floor when he's not is mind blowing.

Not all 40% three point shooters are created equally.   Korver is a 40% shooter because the defense never, ever, ever wants to give him an open look at a three.   He has a quick release and is deadly when left open.  

His percentage is low due to the volume of high difficulty threes he takes that other players simply wouldn't attempt.   It's also worth noting that he's probably 3x the defender you think he is (well you probably think he's one of the worst in the league).

He puts in a ton of effort on that side and while he lacks some of the physical tools you want, the effort does a great job of making up for it. 

C.J. Watson has grown into his role of backup PG

Watson has disappointed most Bulls fans since coming to the team.  His scoring has been down, and he's had a tough time simply running the offense.   He played much better in the Golden State system where he had more of a Derrick Rose type role of simply opening it up and trying to score.

However, he's a better hedge to a Rose injury than most think, because if called on to create his own shot and score with enough volume to find his shot, he can really turn it on.  His three point shooting has given the Bulls a big lift, and his defense has been surprisingly good off the bench.

Taj Gibson is a great hedge to our front court injuries

He's played much, much better when he has a more defined larger role.  When the team needs him, he's generally come through.   He's very active on defense, a very good help defender, but can get beasted by guys who have a significant physical size advantage.  He does bring shot blocking, particularly with very good weak side help and a lot of hustle and energy to the table.

His rebounding can be hit or miss as he doesn't have the strength to box out a lot of guys he's defending and is more of an athletic rebounder.  He does better on the offensive end where he can use his length and speed to get around people and tip the ball than on the defensive end where he has to hold guys back.

Offensively, he's decent at everything but good at nothing.  He can give you something in the low post and has games where he's money with his mid range shot, but he's not consistent with either.   He'll do a lot of his offensive damage through put backs and tips and gathering offensive boards.

Kurt Thomas defies the laws of physics

I don't know what to think of Kurt Thomas.  The dude looks like he's 20-30lbs overweight, he's one of the slowest guys in the league, he doesn't have the size to play center, and he has no athleticism to make up for it.

It sounds like he sucks, doesn't it?   He should suck.   There's no way he should be good at defense.  Yet, somehow, he's not just good, he's awesome at it.  

I don't know if I've ever seen a big man with more clean strips of the ball on driving guards or big men than Thomas.   He blocks a crazy number of shots given his athleticism and lack of size as well.  He always makes smart fouls, never giving up an and one and only fouling when he knows he's been beat.

This guy must be a basketball genius.    Whatever he's got, if you bottle it and sell it, I'm buying it.   Offensively, he's got a mid range jumper, but his slow release means he needs to be pretty open to shoot it.  He'll get the occasional put back or score down low, but he's providing fairly little on that end. 

Omer Asik has shown why the Bulls gave up three second rounders to get him

He's had his ups and downs, he's very raw offensively, and he needs to add a lot of strength, but he's shown tremendous defensive instincts and at times has flashed the nastiness to be a physical interior player.

He comes in for stretches now and is up and down, but if he hits the weight room hard in the off-season, he'll be a real contributor in the future and can still help some today.

James Johnson has shown flashes, but has been banished

Johnson has played solid defense at times, and can bring a lot of energy to the table.  There are two games the Bulls won in which Johnson was the primary catalyst in turning the game around which isn't so bad for a 12th man.

However, inconsistency, poor decision making, and having trouble finding the line between trying to do too much and not trying to do enough have caused Thibodeau to lose confidence in him. 

He's a guy who might surprise if given a chance to play consistently somewhere, but he isn't likely to get that chance here.

Brian Scalabrine gets cheered insane amounts and it's kind of embarrassing

I'm not sure why Scalabrine gets insane cheers when he comes into the game.   He's kind of a human victory cigar as he only enters when the game is out of reach.   However, it strikes me as odd that only white human victory cigars seem to get this treatment (at least in my recollection, I hope someone has a counter example), and I find it a bit disconcerting.  Let's not pile on to this trend.

Tom Thibodeau might be your coach of the year

I hate a great feeling about Thibodeau outside the gates.  When we made the hire, I was excited, and he's proven my faith was well placed.  

The Bulls have the #1 defense in the NBA in defensive rating (which means when you adjust for pace and all that other junk, the Bulls are really the best).    That's a testament to coaching.

The Bulls are on pace to win 56 games despite missing a combined 38 games from Noah and Boozer with only 44 games played.   That's fairly amazing.  

Derrick Rose went from defensive sieve to potential defensive stud.  Everyone on their team is really playing at a pretty high level relative to expectations, and the team had found ways to win lots of games you didn't think they could.   

Give Thibodeau a ton of credit for molding this team which included 8 new players and had significant injuries into one which looks like a team that's a legitimate championship contender.   The Bulls have played through a lot of hardship already and come out of it looking really good.

Put Carmelo out of your mind

If you are a casual fan, you've probably heard about Carmelo Anthony wanting to get traded and potentially coming to the Bulls.  It's not going to happen, so don't get too worked up over it.

Final thoughts

The Bulls aren't likely to win the championship this year.  They don't have the pieces to make a trade to put them over the top, and they probably don't have quite enough talent right now to do it either. 

They're close though, and they're one of maybe seven or eight teams that have a legitimate chance to win the title.   The Bulls haven't played their best basketball yet, as they haven't had a chance to have the whole team come together fully healthy either.

As such, they have some upside to the very high level they're playing at right now.  It's an exciting time to be a Bulls fan as they're set up to sustain this run for the next few years at the very least.

Comments

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  • haha, great story idea Doug. Man, that was a tough Bears loss yesterday.

  • If there is a lesson to be learned for the Bulls players from the Bears game for all of the Bulls players, play like you really want to win and if you are injured and can go in the playoffs do just that cause Cutler if he don't have some form of acl or mcl injury, quit on his team. The guys heart and desire to win has always been in question and now with this mystery knee injury I believe will define the rest of his career. He'd better hope its a major injury even tho no one should want the guy to have a major injury.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I won't question a guy's toughness without knowing what happened. Bears fans are off calling the guy a quitter when he may not have been able to play.

    I really, really doubt that he wanted to sit out. I'm guessing he was simply unable to play at anything approaching a high level.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    If that's the case that he could not play then I would definitely say that he didst quit. I can say that I would not want to be in his situation right now.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I wouldn't either, because I think fans typically get irrationally upset at players who are injured. No player wants to be injured, they're far more upset about it than we are, but we frequently blame them for it.

    I don't know what happened with Culter, maybe he did just quit, I suppose it's a possibility, but do you really, deep down, think that's the case? It strikes me as extraordinarily unlikely.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    It just was not a good look with him standing and walking on the sideline looking disinterested.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The post game comments have said that he lobbied the coaching staff to play, and they said no, he was too hurt.

    Olin Kruetz said he could see Cutler's knee wobbling as he as walked.

    It sounds like he legitimately wanted to play and was prevented from it, and that he was legitimately hurt on top of that anyway.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I just hope for his sake that everything was hurt that bad that he couldn't go back in.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    meant to say that he was hurt that bad that he couldn't go back in.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Nice write up Doug!!

    Am I the only one who received weird looks from their wife the first time they heard them yell

    "OH YA GO BIG SEXY!!" at the TV? haha

    I am really excited about our Bulls and I love Drose but am I the only one who is a little worried about him turning into Derrick Ellis lately instead of being Derrick Rose??

    But then again I think he has just been off lately his normal drives and stuff that usually fall just aren't going down! Hopefully he can shake it off soon!!

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    He's had a rough time due to the tremendous defensive attention paid to him. Once Noah and Boozer are both back, it will be interesting to see how much things change.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    That's a scary thought for opposing teams because he is still affective he was at 40 percent in the Cavs game and thats with 3 3pt attempts!

    I cant wait for JO to be back!!

    What do you think our chances are of beating Utah in a couple weeks?? I just bought my seats off stub hub 3rd row behind Bulls bench but they were like $632 for the pair!!1

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    You got off cheap, the seats I got for the Portland game aren't THAT good but were about as much. Of coarse I bought them when Roy was still playing.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I've noticed that Jazz tickets are fairly cheap compared to other teams! That's awesome though hopefully the Bulls can pull off back to back road wins for us!!

    But Portland has been a tough place for them to win!

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Went 2 years ago and the Bulls lost by like 40pts. On the upside my kid got DRoses autograph and got to meet Bill Wennington.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Thats awesome!! At the game last year I got autographs from

    Jo
    Deng
    Lindsey Hunter
    Salmons

    It kinda sucks cuz I knew that most of them wouldn't be back the next year
    we got blown out too...

    I think the only time that I have been and we won was when Larry Hughes hit the game winning buzzer beater!!

    Are the Blazers fans as bad as the Jazz fans as far as giving you crap for being a bulls fan at the game?

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    I live in Seattle so I had only gone to that one game in Portland now that the Sonics are no more and can't see them here. Since they beat the Bulls by 40 I didn't hear too much crap, hope the tables are turned this year. Got to go to one of the Sonics-Bulls Finals games and the Bulls won so I did hear alot that day as I wore my Bulls apparel.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Man I am def jealous I was to young to go the Finals here! I was only 8 for the first one and 9 for the second!

    I got in a fight in school with my two best friends over the jazz and bulls in the 6th grade haha!!

    When you were in Portland did you check out Voodoo donuts? I am curious if the donuts live up to the hype?!

    Btw, Props for living in Seattle me and my wife went there on a last minute vacation and loved it! That place is beautiful

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    I also get into an argument and almost a fight every single year I go to the Jazz vs Bulls lol

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    I was just in Portland over Christmas and went to Voodoo donuts. My favorite was the Maple Bar with bacon. I know it sounds terrible but it was great. If you ever get a change go there. It's worth the trip.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Counterexample: Granville Waiters. He played about 5 minutes a game for the Bulls in 1987-88, the year Grant and Pippen joined the team and the Bulls won 50 games and began their rise to dominance. I distinctly remember chants and cheers for Waiters, who is African-American, at the end of blow-out games. Like Scalabrine, Waiters had a distinctive look -- in his case, Waiters was prematurely bald and did not shave his head, so he looked like an old man. And like Scalabrine, Waiters was not very good.

    I think you overrate how Rose is playing now, as opposed to his potential. He is not yet a top five player in the league. He is too inefficient in both shooting and assists. There are reasons for that -- without support he has been asked to carry the load -- but nevertheless he has a great deal of room to improve.

    He is the MVP for the Bulls, but even that would be up for debate if Boozer and Noah had remained healthy for the whole season. However Rose still has not reached his prime, and has clearly improved in certain areas of his game, so there is real hope that he will become a top five player. But right now? He's a great story, but not yet top five.

  • In reply to TimS:

    Hater. The ladies loved them some Granville.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Counterexample: Granville Waiters. He played about 5 minutes a game for the Bulls in 1987-88, the year Grant and Pippen joined the team and the Bulls won 50 games and began their rise to dominance. I distinctly remember chants and cheers for Waiters, who is African-American, at the end of blow-out games. Like Scalabrine, Waiters had a distinctive look -- in his case, Waiters was prematurely bald and did not shave his head, so he looked like an old man. And like Scalabrine, Waiters was not very good.

    I think you overrate how Rose is playing now, as opposed to his potential. He is not yet a top five player in the league. He is too inefficient in both shooting and assists. There are reasons for that -- without support he has been asked to carry the load -- but nevertheless he has a great deal of room to improve.

    He is the MVP for the Bulls, but even that would be up for debate if Boozer and Noah had remained healthy for the whole season. However Rose still has not reached his prime, and has clearly improved in certain areas of his game, so there is real hope that he will become a top five player. But right now? He's a great story, but not yet top five.

  • In reply to TimS:

    I don't usually get into ranking players because it's so subjective but I had to chime in on this one. Even with his mistakes and with his unquestionable room for improvement in a few areas, to this point in the season I can't think of 5 players in the league that are better than or more worthy of the MVP. Especially under the Bulls' current circumstances.

    The only 4 players that I think are better than Rose right now are Wade, LeBron, Dwight Howard and Kobe. Durant is right there with Rose but because of the way Westbrook is balling and helping out Durant, I have to give Rose the edge.

    That's what is so exciting about Rose and scary to the rest of the NBA. Even with room for improvement with his defense (clearly improved but still a little ways to go), his shot selection and decision-making under pressure defense, Rose is so good at the things he does well that he's nearly unstoppable.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Nice purchase!

    I hope they win it for you

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    That's awesome. I'll be at that game as well.
    When you hear one solitary guy cheering loudly from the rafters, you'll know it's me ... at least till the wife tells me to stop embarrassing her. lol

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Hopefully, that will be the case, because right now things are way to hard for him, he simply will not last(physically) if he has to play this way all the time. His performance has already suffered, at least statistically, his shooting percentage is getting down to Ben Gordon territory, or worse yet Allen Iverson territory.

    While he is strong for his size, he is not as big(tall) as Jordan was, and Jordan had to workout for years to get himself to the point where he could withstand the beating that he took.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Heres a couple reason WHY D Rose Will Be/Should Be the MVP:

    1. PG is the toughest position to play in today's NBA....Every night your playing against the best, D Will, CP3,Brandon Jennings,Kidd,Rondo,Felton,Nash,Monta Ellis/Curry etc...the list goes on...and right now Rose is arguably the best out of all of them. Just recently, Barkley, Chris Webber and Kenny Smith all proclaimed Rose as the #1 PG.

    2. Bulls injuries have been terrible this year. Boozer an Noah have only played like 6-7 games together and the Bulls ARE STILL #2 or 3 seed right now in the East. Many times this season, 2 of our starters consisted of Kurt Thomas 38 years old and Keith "I really dont do anthing" Bogans lol Rose is carrying this team. Jason Terry even said it the other night....it doesnt matter who is on Rose's team....the guy is going to WIN.

    3. As good as LeBron James is....this year should be the easiest out of any other year he has played. WHY? Because he is playing along side D Wade (top 5 player,MVP candidate himself), and Chris Bosh (All Star,1 of the top Bigs in the Game) As a opposing team...what do you plan on trying to stop? D Wade? Bosh? LeBron? You cant just pick 1 becuase the others will just beat you. As good as his stats are...the game becomes much easier when you have players the caliber of Wade an Bosh on your team. Instead of facing double teams, LeBron many times faces 1 on 1 matchups this year because you cant leave Wade or Bosh open. He even said himself, going into this Miami Heat situation that personal awards would probably be effected by his decision.

    D Rose for MVP!!!!!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Heres a couple reason WHY D Rose Will Be/Should Be the MVP:

    1. PG is the toughest position to play in today's NBA....Every night your playing against the best, D Will, CP3,Brandon Jennings,Kidd,Rondo,Felton,Nash,Monta Ellis/Curry etc...the list goes on...and right now Rose is arguably the best out of all of them. Just recently, Barkley, Chris Webber and Kenny Smith all proclaimed Rose as the #1 PG.

    2. Bulls injuries have been terrible this year. Boozer an Noah have only played like 6-7 games together and the Bulls ARE STILL #2 or 3 seed right now in the East. Many times this season, 2 of our starters consisted of Kurt Thomas 38 years old and Keith "I really dont do anthing" Bogans lol Rose is carrying this team. Jason Terry even said it the other night....it doesnt matter who is on Rose's team....the guy is going to WIN.

    3. As good as LeBron James is....this year should be the easiest out of any other year he has played. WHY? Because he is playing along side D Wade (top 5 player,MVP candidate himself), and Chris Bosh (All Star,1 of the top Bigs in the Game) As a opposing team...what do you plan on trying to stop? D Wade? Bosh? LeBron? You cant just pick 1 becuase the others will just beat you. As good as his stats are...the game becomes much easier when you have players the caliber of Wade an Bosh on your team. Instead of facing double teams, LeBron many times faces 1 on 1 matchups this year because you cant leave Wade or Bosh open. He even said himself, going into this Miami Heat situation that personal awards would probably be effected by his decision.

    D Rose for MVP!!!!!

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    I am curious on your opinion Doug and everyone else do you guys now wish that the bulls would have went for a different PF over the Summer??

    David Lee?
    Chris Bosh doesn't count his decision was already made
    Amare?

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    1. Bosh was already decided as you said.
    2. Amare -- too expensive and suspect knees. If you go back to last summer, you would have thought Rose is probably a year or two away to become elite. Amare is not a guarantee to even play at a high level after two years because any leg injury can be dangerous to him. He is a risky investment and if he gets hurt, it is a big..big drag on the team.
    3. Lee ...over rated because of D'Antoni system. Not worth a max deal. Better than avg..
    4. Boozer - even though injury prone, not any long term injuries. His game is built to age well compared to others.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Those were pretty much my thoughts!!

    I really dislike Amare ... He is a dirty player did anyone see on the Christmas game he pushed Taj in the back with 2 hands to get a rebound not just a bump a straight up push out of the way

    And then I'm sure everyone saw his dirty fouls on Rose and then Rose got in his face! That was awesome lol

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    You could also ask if they should have just played Taj and spent the money on SG. I would never have paid Johnson what he got from Atlanta and maybe there weren't any Non-Douchebag options. David Lee has not been that great this year either but Amare would have been interesting because he can get out and run with DRose.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Ya I didn't think of that! But as far as SG's go Wade already decided and JJ got way overpaid so I think going for a good PF was our best bet

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    I'd take Boozer over Lee.

    I'd take Bosh over Boozer, but it's nice to pay less for a player who has better stats than Bosh--I understand Bosh is the third option on the Heat.

    I would like to see Amare be held accountable on defense. Thibs would certainly do so, and the thought of him playing next to Noah at PF (his natural postion is enticing. Would it be worht the max contract? IDK.

    The Bulls best off-season acquisition is still Thibs. If I had to choose between (Thibs/Boozer) and (D'Antoni/Amare) I'd stick with what we have.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    I see Amare as the type of guy the would respond negatively to a benching for the lack of defense!

    I would def do what the Bulls did I am happy with the past summer as far as the decisions they made

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    1. Anyone older than 35 go gaga over the Bears because of the 1985 Superbowl. But the younger guys are probably bigger fans of the Bulls because of the MJ factor.
    2. Basketball is more of a universal game than football and you probably have lot more Bulls fans around the world. But that said, it is doubtful if any team can outdo the Bears in Chicago as long as they are competitive.
    3. BTW, is VDN the luckiest coach on the planet. He gets Rose his first two years and then gets Blake Griffin.
    4. The other good thing about following these Bulls is that they probably will be good for a few years(unless Rose gets injured) compared to the un-certainity that is the Bears.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    No kidding, Ha that's funny! I did the same thing, yelled big sexy at the TV, the wife got a good laugh out of it, I had to explain it to her, but she was amused

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    That may be true, but nothing about Cutlers body language made it look like he was dying to play, even before the injury.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    He's in a bad situation because of all the arm-chair morons like you. You don't have the first f*****g clue what happened, but because he didn't pitch a fit that the cameras saw, you think he quit.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    its too early in the morning for idiots like bullshooter.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    You are the one questioning a starting quarterbacks desire to play in one of the biggest games of his life after it was very clear that he had been injured. You may not like him as your QB but give the guy a break.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I know a lot of Bears fans are upset this morning but again... TOO EARLY.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    So your argument is he quit because a lot other know-nothing morons are upset? It's never too early for that kind of logic is it... way to think for yourself...

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Exactly, I'm not going to lose my mind over the loss especially early in the morning, it's over and done with. I suggest you go to the Bears blog to continue your rant.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Nice wrap up, Doug.

    I was one of the people rolling my eyes when Rose rhetorically asked "Why can't I be MVP?" at the beginning of the season. Not only did I not think he was good enough, but I thought it had all finally gone to his head, and we had lost our humble, like-able, homegrown star.

    But I think he has been MVP this year. Not the best player in the league, but certainly the most important player to any good team.

    And now it's getting attention outside Chicago. Check this out: http://www.nba.com/2011/news/features/01/21/race-to-mvp-week-13/index.html

  • In reply to Davidmon5:

    I def think Drose is MVP lately I heard the argument being down to Drose and Lebron I hope they don't do to Derrick as they did to Durant last year!!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I don't know about when Cutlet got injured or how bad it is, they are reporting today that he has a sprained MCL.

    However, early in the second quarter, I commented to the guys that I was watching the game with that Cutler seemed to have mentally checked out just like he did in the Giant game when he was getting his brains beat out. His body language on and off the field was terribe, especially so as he was coming off the field or onto to it. He looked like he just didn't want to play.

    If I was a player and I saw my quarterback looking like that it sure wouldn't inspire any confidence in me.

    Later in the game, after Haney went in, there was a shot of Haney on the sideline studying pictures of the game, and Cutler was sitting next to him competely ignoring him, looking totally disinterested. Seeems to me he might have been helping the kid figure things out, although Haney seemed to be playing better than Culter did anyway.

    Cutler does not seem to be a leader, despite his teammates(Urlacher) defense of him.

    None of us can really know the extent of Cutler's injury, but this game will certainly be the end of the honeymoon for Cutler and the fans, fairly or not.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    If anyone was a quitter on the Bears yesterday, it was the coaching staff.

  • Since you compared Rose to Payton would would you compare to the other Bulls?

    here are some thoughts

    Noah - Dent defensive monster , has a little McMahon in him as well.
    Korver - Maybe Gault has one great asset but not always realiable
    Thomas - Hampton?
    Thibs - combo or Ditka (intensity) and Ryan (defensive mastermind)

    who else?

    Bogans - don't think the Bears had a player that bad (maybe a punter

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I know that you are just having some fun, and you can see the hard nosed aspect of the comparison, but Hampton is a Hall of Famer. Maybe Steve McMichael for Thomas, but he was pretty damn good to, but the ultimate tough guy.

  • Scal = Fridge fan favorite but Fridge I guess actally contributed.

  • I'm a Bears fan....but I just realized last night that I take a regular season Bulls loss harder than a Bears playoff loss. That can't be healthy.....

  • Nice wrap up on the Bulls Doug.

    I'm goigng to quit the ad nauseum complaining about offensive plays that could thwart or at least help dealing with double teams since almost nobody seems to agree that that's part of the problem, but rather simply personnel.

    What I was going to offer is why the Bulls offensively are not a contender/chamionship caliber team.

    As I say I was going to offer that.

    But when I checked out the stats for NBA Champions of the last 10 years, I found this Bulls team actually makes the grade. When you look at ppg, point differential, team field goal percentage, three point percentage, and opponents ppg the Bulls numbers actaully fall in line with the other contenders/eventual champions.

    I didn't realize how many teams won the title scoring less then 99 ppg. And the field goal percentages being in the .470 to .450's range puts the Bulls offense as maybe better quality then you might think. Though again recently I do think they've been taking a downturn both as a team and D-Rose with poor field goal percentage games(and yes I know about his three attemtpts).

    They say defense wins championships. And usually it seems to me the battle of the boards: most of the championship/contender teams I've looked at outrebounded opponents by at least two or three a game over 82 games. The Bulls currently are at + 3.89 or something like that.

    So if the Bulls can solve this current offensive malaise, whereas before all the stepped up doubles with the Bulls mounting elite win/loss record and Derrick emerging as a legit MVP in most NBA cirlces was not there; I really wouldn't catgorize them so much as a team that 'wins ugly' before that point. But if they can become more fluid again, and Derrick can score more efficiently/easily/better shooting nights/numbers/ maybe not until Noah returns. But if they can get back to that with Noah, Boozer, and Deng all healthy then I think they might me a legitimate threat to make the ECF, and scare the hell out of maybe even a Miami, who I agree with Doug is by far the best team/biggest threat to the Bulls in the Eastern Conference.

    So yes praise for Thibs. Despite any problems I have with him, he's still done an awesome job you'd have to say when looking at the numbers. Especially the ones that say won/lost.

  • I agree. Derrick has given the Bulls whatever they need to add up to an elite win total. That's an MVP candidate in my book. Especially without whom I consider(maybe in the minority) their second best player in Joakim Noah. You give me what Jokaim Noah has become "November Jo," and I'll give you not only an all-star, but what I believe is one of the most game impacting players in the league.

    And even if you think it's Boozer as second best then he's missed even more games then Joakim.

    While efficiency is important, I'm more of an old school field goal percentage guy rather then all efficiency(the threes and free throws which do come more into play with the biggest studs and dominating/winning games).

    But Derrick, other then this recent Jordan rules all out assault, was scoring field goals at about .460 while still putting up a legitimate volume of threes. With nearly 25ppg, 8 assists(which should be way higher if we had Jo and Booz always healthy and some better shooters), and nearly 5 rebounds per game?

    Anyone who think D-Rose is not at least worthy of MVP consideration just doesn't know his(or her) basketball IMO. Or how to count to 30. As in 30-14 without Jo and/or Boozer for most of the season.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hey, I'm just saying he's not top five yet. Those are high standards to meet.

    Efficiency isn't the whole game, but, like production, it matters. If you cherry pick the good stats and highlight clips, as the media tends to do, Rose can look like the best player in the NBA. But he's not, yet, because for every jaw-dropping split of a double team, crossover move, or stunning dunk, there's also a blind jump pass to no one, a one-on-three drive to the basket that doesn't work, or an ill-advised running one-handed 12-foot toss while falling out of bounds.

    If I may qoute Doug Thonus in a recent article about the Memphis game:

    "Derrick's shooting percentages are way down due largely to the ridiculous nature of the types of shots he's taking. There's a fine line between terrible shot selection and ball movement on his part and trying to carry the team because no one else is able to.

    "I think Derrick is still walking on the 'carry the team' portion of that line, and we know he's more than willing to give the ball up, but it's at least some concern."

    If you aren't at all concerned about Rose's efficiency, I'm not sure why. It isn't the whole game, but it matters.

  • In reply to TimS:

    I agree that more recently with the 'Jordan Rules' being applied as Jason Terry stated Derrick has looked less effective/spectacular. But his overall season performance I don't see how you can say he's not at least worthy as an MVP candidate. Especially cosnidering his increased FTA's at 6.1 and high volume 4.2 three point attempts per game at 38% I mean come on.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Just to be clear, Doug said Rose is a legitimate top five player in the NBA candidate. I disagreed. Nobody mentioned the MVP race.

    The MVP race is a different animal. It doesn't really measure the top player, it measures the top player on a winning team who doesn't share the load with another top player and hasn't pissed off the media and hasn't already won the award lately and exceeded expectations and, well, lots of other factors that don't really measure the best player in the NBA. Most of all, the media loves a good story, and Rose's rise -- which I don't deny -- is a good story.

    But even in the media, a significant number of articles have questioned whether Rose can win the award without improving his efficiency. At first, people laughed when Rose suggested it during the preseason. Then they took a second look when the Bulls won without Boozer. Then they took a third look when they won without Noah. But now that he is in serious contention, they are taking a fourth look and raising questions. There's something of a backlash going on, and unless Rose continues to improve during the season (which, when Noah returns, he might) I don't think he can win the award this year. Nash was much more efficient when he won the award.

  • In reply to TimS:

    I think his age will keep him from winning. Some voters just won't vote for such a young guy. Kind of like the Heisman

  • In reply to TimS:

    Doug, are you really bringing up race with Scalabrine? I don't really like the chants because I feel it's a Boston tradition, but I don't think it's a race issue at all. I don't have an example of a black victory cigar?? but Scalabrine is really the only "white victory cigar" I can think of.

  • In reply to Chicagokid894:

    Darko was the original victory cigar in Detroit.

  • In reply to Chicagokid894:

    I agree that it is a Boston thing, and I feel it demeans Chicago a bit to just mimic their thing.

    For whatever reason, the victory cigar guy has typically been a less skilled white player, for whatever reason.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree that it's disturbing that we carry on a stupid Boston tradition.

    I don't think the Bulls fans are (knowingly) being racist. There was a Mike McGraw article recently scolding Bulls fans, and I don't think he was right. Omer Asik is Turkish, and pretty damned white. Kyle Korver is white. "Kurt" Hinrich was white. The crowd doesn't go nuts every time they touch the ball.

    I do think Boston fans were being racist. He's a ginger and the Irish-heavy home crowd wanted to cheer for one of their own. So when the Bulls fans go nuts, maybe they are indirectly being a little bit racist, but I don't think that's their intent, I think they just think they're being funny by copying Boston and wildly, mockingly cheering for a godawful player. Without realizing how ugly of a tradition it was in Boston.

    But even without the racial element, it's an insulting and stupid tradition.

  • In reply to Chicagokid894:

    Great post Doug, you hit everything right on the head.

    For someone who doesn't follow the Bulls, this would give them all the essential information that they need to understand the team.

  • In reply to Chicagokid894:

    sorry for the double post!

  • In reply to Chicagokid894:

    I find Kyle Korver's 3x worse than I expected. Reading what Utah fans had to say about him when he was first signed they said to expect poor defense but someone who tries hard. I see him completely opening up whenever his man comes at him. His body acts like a swinging kitchen door on The Three Stooges. He is active out there, but that's really just his feet, knees, and hands jerking and quivering around.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I really don't think there is a player in the NBA right now that gets game planned against as much as Rose

  • In reply to TimS:

    Reese, you open your mouth and insert foot daily...do the world a favor and shut the hell up....your comments sound like a 12 year old trying to learn english and your points are crap. GFY

  • In reply to bullswin60606:

    U do me a favor and stop trying to analyze every word and comment that I say and if you have a problem with my comments simply overlook them and move on. This is a sports blog, so when do a real fan use proper english when talking about sports. If I was getting paid to use proper english on this blog trust me some of the proper grammer that I use u wouldn't understand with your comment TRYING to insult me. However I do appreciate some of the attention that I do get from some of the bloggers on here cause for 1, I know most of my comments are real cause I am a real fan and not some homer fan that sometimes don't want to hear the truth and 2, I love getting under some of the homer fans skin cause some of them are simply pathetic trying to come up with every excuse to make a point about some negative criticism. So all I can say is... KEEP THE LOVE COMING...LOL...

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Next time if there is one... try replying directly to me and not twenty comments down the page. This person tried to post where I couldn't see it, LOL... IDIOT....

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Anyone notice the more the Bulls win the less we see Happy??

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Lets hope the go undefeated the rest of the way then.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Haha I second that

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    UH OH GUYS WE MIGHT HAVE A LEBRON/DELONTE SITUATION ON OUR HANDS!! HAHA

    LOOK @ 2:04

    http://www.nba.com/bulls/bullstv/players.html

  • In reply to TimS:

    If you watch LeBron, he makes a lot of mistakes as Rose does...For that matter, MJ did too. But all we can see is the bottomline of wins with 2 top players being out one time or the other. And the rest of the team except for Deng probably don't start in 25 to 28 teams in the league.
    Rose might not be the MVP or top 5 at the end of the season..he might tail off..But, saying he is not a top 5 player until now is wrong.

  • Doug, I agree with everything u said but i still dreaming of carmelo anthony.

  • Did Gary Fencik ever run over your foot or something??

    If anything, Bogans is LA Mike. See Dolphins game for details.

  • Yup! I think I almost died of alcohol poisoning during the Tim Floyd era....:)

    Speaking of alcohol poisoning: Hey! We need a SG!!! I wonder what Larry Hughes is doing now? There's an article for Doug....Larry Hughes vs. Keith Bogans. Disgust...er...I mean discuss....

  • In reply to evilhoban:

    Do anyone of you feel that OJ Mayo and JR Smith are closer to Larry Hughes(lot of promise,talent but knuckleheads). I like OJ Mayo but somehow it is scary when he can't break into a Memphis's starting position.
    Speaking of SGs, how about Vince Carter next season. He might stabilize the position. He doesn't have to be a stud but just a better player than Bogans type players.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I would take anybody you mentioned over Bogans. I think Mayo not starting has more to do with Memphis's mismanagement/thinking they need his scoring off the bench.I would take a shot at him, but the price is probably too high.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I was dubious of adding Mayo until I just read a Bill Simmons chat. He said that he would be "scared" of the Bulls if they were to add Mayo, and compared him being available to Felton being available over the summer. Both very talented guards, drafted high, waiting for the right envirnoment to succedd.

    I highly value Simmons opinion. Currently I am reading his "Big Book of Basketball" and recommend it to any basketball fan. Informative & witty.

    So now I am in the camp that says for a fair price, and without disrupting the nucles, I'd gladly add Mayo, even with my previous character concerns.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Simmons also said this, with which I am in 100% agreement:

    "If I'm Chicago, I am not thinking about any move right now that betrays their identity: Which is that it's Derrick Rose's team. Every move they make should be to make his supporting cast better. They don't need Carmelo, as weird as that sounds.

    "

  • My quick equivalency chart:

    Derrick Rose => Julius Peppers (mega-star, even better than you thought he would be)
    Keith Bogans => Chester Taylor (you're always asking why the hell he's in the game when he is)
    Ronnie Brewer => Matt Forte (should be obvious from the previous comment)
    Kurt Thomas => Tommie Harris (where the hell did he come from?)
    Omer Asik => Johnny Knox (very good player who still needs some polish)
    James Johnson => Devin Aromashadu (player who seems to have promise but the coaching staff hates him)

    Nothing came off the top of my head for Lu, Boozer, Taj or Joak...

  • In reply to Duke:

    I came up with one for Luol Deng:

    Luol Deng => Greg Olsen (good at a lot of different things, sometimes provides a lot of offense, sometimes provides a lot of value in other ways (blocking/defense), but can disappear at times)

  • In that respect, I get it. Just that Bogans still seems to make too many silly mistakes for a seasoned vet; like turning easy layups into 3-point plays.

    I said LA Mike because he was someone that was not seen as an issue most of the season due to those around him, but got exposed big time by the one guy/team the Bears faced that could do it.

    In any event, if the Bulls win the title this year, I promise I'll sport a Bogans jersey as an act of contrition (assuming he is on the playoff roster)!!

  • I'm not using efficiency as the "sole measure" of anything, I'm just saying it matters, and Rose is not efficient enough to be a top five player in the NBA, which is a very high standard indeed.

  • I'm not talking MVP or PER, I'm talking top five players in the NBA, which is where Doug ranked him.

  • This year, just among point guards, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Jameer Nelson, and Tony Parker have all managed to combine efficiency with productivity. D.J. Augustin and Luke Ridnour, on the other hand, have been efficient but not productive. Rose and Russell Westbrook have been productive but not efficient. Here's an article that examines the issue in detail:

    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2011/1/21/1943363/derrick-rose-russell-westbrook-nba-point-guard

    As for my top five players, that's a good question and I'm not sure of my answer. But I'm not aware of *any* statistical analysis that would put Rose in the top five NBA players, even though the various systems all disagree about who *should* be in the top five. So I feel fairly confident that Rose is not one of the top five players yet, although I again stress that I have high hopes he can get there in the next couple of years.

  • This year, just among point guards, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Jameer Nelson, and Tony Parker have all managed to combine efficiency with productivity. D.J. Augustin and Luke Ridnour, on the other hand, have been efficient but not productive. Rose and Russell Westbrook have been productive but not efficient. Here's an article that examines the issue in detail:

    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2011/1/21/1943363/derrick-rose-russell-westbrook-nba-point-guard

    As for my top five players, that's a good question and I'm not sure of my answer. But I'm not aware of *any* statistical analysis that would put Rose in the top five NBA players, even though the various systems all disagree about who *should* be in the top five. So I feel fairly confident that Rose is not one of the top five players yet, although I again stress that I have high hopes he can get there in the next couple of years.

  • In reply to TimS:

    Sorry for the double posts. I get an error message, so I try posting again, then I see two posts. I'm not sure what's wrong.

  • In reply to TimS:

    The Bulls don't need Rose to be efficient as badly as they need him to be productive, that's what you're not getting. He can go back to being efficient when the other scorers get back into the lineup. And when the Bulls hire a SG.

    Let me put it this way: we need someone to take hard shots. Rose could shoot much less, only take easier, more wide open shots, and his FG% would go up. But when the other team is clamping down on defense, and we're searching for a bucket, we need someone to go to. And that someone might have to do something difficult and get off an inefficient shot, to get off any shot. Rose is willing to be aggressive even if it hurts his numbers, because he is more concerned with winning than his stats. Have you noticed how often he's referred to as "the run killer?"
    He has an uncanny ability to contribute where the team needs him most. He could focus purely on scoring and be at or near the number one position in points per game, but when he often tries to get teammates going, or continues to feed someone who has shown a hot hand. His defense has been very good lately.
    In Dallas he had an efficient nine points on eight shots at halftime. Thibs was pissed and yelled at him in the locker room because he was not being aggressive and producing. He came out after halftime and hit five of twenty. They WON.
    Would you rather have all of your starters hit 60% of five shots and play crap defense, or have all of them hit 40% of ten shots and play smothering defense? Production means more points, even if it takes more possessions. Points are even more important than efficiency in winning games - the team with the most points usually wins.
    Derrick is shooting the same as Luol Deng. And Derrick's is more impressive because his shots are much more difficult and he's getting more defensive attention. That doesn't mean that Derrick's shot selection is poor. Luol Deng gets easier, more open shots BECAUSE Derrick is able to hit his difficult shots at the exact same percentage as your Jameer Nelson is hitting his wide open jumpers (he's got a pretty good center taking most of the defensive attention, while Derrick generally has half the opposing team thrown at him).

    So if Derrick was a Bear, he'd be Devon Hester in the first half of the 2007 SuperBowl.

  • In reply to Davidmon5:

    You may be right, but there are players in the NBA who are both efficient and productive. Again, I'm just saying Rose is not yet a top five player, and that's a very high standard. I'm also acknowledging that Rose is improving and has not yet reached his prime, so the future looks bright.

  • This year, just among point guards, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Jameer Nelson, and Tony Parker have all managed to combine efficiency with productivity. D.J. Augustin and Luke Ridnour, on the other hand, have been efficient but not productive. Rose and Russell Westbrook have been productive but not efficient. Here's an article that examines the issue in detail:

    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2011/1/21/1943363/derrick-rose-russell-westbrook-nba-point-guard

    As for my top five players, that's a good question and I'm not sure of my answer. But I'm not aware of *any* statistical analysis that would put Rose in the top five NBA players, even though the various systems all disagree about who *should* be in the top five. So I feel fairly confident that Rose is not one of the top five players yet, although I again stress that I have high hopes he can get there in the next couple of years.

  • I agree that Parker would be a nice upgrade that shouldn't cost too much. At 35, he'd be a short-term rental, but if he could be had for a late round draft pick he'd be a good pickup.

  • Sprained, I believe.

  • I'm not saying that all those efficient and productive point guards are better than Rose. But I think Rose will have to do better before I can comfortably say he is better than Deron Williams and Chris Paul, not to mention non point guards like Wade and James and Howard.

    As for Chris Paul not shooting enough, I would just note that last year, when Paul was injured most of the season, the Hornets came in 11th in the West. This year, according to Hollinger's predictions, they are on pace to come in third in the West, have a 20% chance to make it to the finals, and have a 10% chance to win it all. And they just got done making the Hawks and the Spurs look like chumps.

  • hey guys what if the bulls take on al harrington's contract from the Nuggets wouldn't that give us another big body to go up against the boston bigs? also, we could juice out the trade because as denver see's that they need picks and young players to go into the rebuilding process we pick up al harrington (another big that can shoot efficiently from the 3-pt line and give spacing on the court and would be amazing to have as a power-forward at times [though used more as a backup center for noah] while noah is on the court) and then pick up arron afflalo, and ty lawson...though we send over asik, jj, cj watson, either korver or brewer (I say more korver) and if not either of the last two players also a our bulls draft pick if not that then include the charlotte draft pick.

    what this does is it gives us a starting shooting guard that can shoot the 3-pt legitly! (64/149 = 43%) - better than korver and afflalo is seen to be a defensive minded guy also because for the west he is given the duty to guard kobe, terry, curry/ellis, gordon, and many other amazing guards therefore he is WHAT WE NEED in our starting line-up plus he would fit in greatly in our D-fence system from Thibs and would play amazing along Rose (he isn't a ball hog or anything like that) so it would fit.

    Then we get Ty Lawson who would revolutionize our backup point problems because he plays up-tempo most of the time and is quite fast so it would be trading a super star point for an almost all-star type point player when the bench comes in to play. He is having a phenominal year in field goal percentage 50.3%!!! and he is a legit three-point presence also.

    Overall instead of going after Carmelo I think we should try and ship Omer, CJ, JJ, Korver, and maybe two-draft picks for Al-Harrington, Afflalo, and Lawson. I would say because Denver DOES NOT want al-harrington's contract that they would rather take two draft picks and a trainable center, and SF/PF in james johnson and sacrifice two other young players.

    I think this is more favored for the bulls yet you guys let me know if this is a good idea or not?

  • Again, I'm not talking about the MVP race. I'm talking about the best five players in the league. Legitimate title aspirations and intangibles like playing with another superstar may very well determine the MVP race, but that's different from the five best players in the league.

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