Does a shortened season help the Bulls?

Barring a major trade that re-balances the power in the East, the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat will be the top two teams in the conference this season.

As such, who does a shortened season benefit the most?

Loss of training camp / practice time

Both teams had on court chemistry problems last season. Miami frequently looked like a team that alternated between going to Wade and LeBron rather than having any real synergy in their games while the Bulls could never quite get things figured out with Noah and Boozer on the court at once.

Both teams could use a training camp and additional practice time to get their guys to play in harmony better, but the Bulls probably feel the sting of losing that time more so than Miami for a few reasons.

First, I believe Tom Thibodeau is simply a better coach than Eric Spoelstra. As such, I think he's doing a lot more teaching in his practices and that they are a greater part of this teams success.

Also, Wade and LeBron were healthy for the vast, vast majority of last season. They were the primary two guys with the ball all the time already and have probably spent around 2500 minutes of time on the court together in games last season.

Clearly the laws of diminishing returns on how much additional chemistry they gain with additional playing time have started to sink in already as the greatest improvements in that area probably happened by mid season last year.

On the other hand, Boozer and Noah have relatively few minutes together and didn't even get to play training camp together last season. They both missed considerable time with injury while the other was healthy limiting both the games and practice time they had together.

The Bulls depth also makes their practice time more valuable. The Bulls could play their second team against their first team and have some interesting battles in team scrimmages. I don't see the second team scoring much, but they could defend the hell out of the first team and really push them.

Miami has no method to create two balanced teams without splitting up Wade and LeBron which defeats any hope of having them improve chemistry in scrimmages to mimic game situations. However, if they play together on the practice squad than how interesting of scrimmage can you even have.

Roster turnover / Integration of new players

The Bulls, in theory, will look to add one more key piece to the puzzle this off-season. We all know they're looking to improve at the shooting guard position, and if they are able to add that piece then it will take some additional time to integrate him into the roster.

This is doubly true because we all know the Bulls need a secondary shot creator, so adding a player who can create his own shot will change the general flow of the offense more than just adding a player to fit into a more predefined niche.

The Heat will likely turn over several players on their roster, particularly in the front court where guys like Z and Dampier may not be wanted back or may have even smaller roles. However, none of those changes will impact the team like adding a scoring option like the Bulls hope to do.

Udanis Haslem missed enough of last season that it's fair to say he counts as a new player, but he'll fit into a role where he just hustles, rebounds, defends, and shoots open kick outs. There isn't much required in terms of practice time for him to fill his role or get a feel for teammates, especially since he's played with Wade most of his career.

Compressed season with more back to backs

Ultimately, I don't think a compressed scheduling of the games would mean much to either team. Both teams should rip through the regular season fairly effectively regardless of how the schedule is created.

The Bulls have the depth to rest guys if they need to, but a compressed season could be extremely wearing on Derrick Rose if the Bulls can't find a secondary offensive creator.

The Heat will likely have a lot more older players with less depth, but their stars frequently build comfortable leads.

Both teams will only be focused on what happens in the playoffs though and neither one really needs to win the conference as much as they need to hit the playoffs healthy and focused.

While a compressed season means fewer games, the risk of injury might be greater due to the less frequent rest. The Bulls are probably more prone to injury than the Heat, but injuries are too fluky to really weigh in one way or the other so we'll call it a wash.

Overall?

I think Miami eeks out a slightly increased advantage in a shortened season scenario.

The Bulls have more cogs to their machine and will require more practice time and simply haven't had as many minutes to play their key cogs together to build chemistry. They're the more likely of the two teams to need to make a significant change in where their shots on the floor come from as well.

As such, they have more low lying fruit in terms of improvement left to gain than Miami, and they have a coach who's one of the best in the business at maximizing the value of his practice time.

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  • The Chicago Bulls would benefit more by a shortened season.
    - Full Speed Ahead; I agree Thibs is a much better coach, but he's also a slave driver that wore the team down, and they simply ran out of gas by the playoffs, especially the ECF. A shortened season lets them sprint the whole thing out.
    - Fragile Big Men; Noah and Boozer didn't play much together because Noah's a twig and Boozer is either a wimp with glass bones or the unluckiest tough guy on the face of the planet. Despite Wade throwing himself around, it's much more likely that one of the gangly Bulls big men get hurt (and I haven't mentioned Deng...between making it an entire season and the acquisition of Boozer his reputation has disappeared). If the Bulls have a long season, either one is absentee again and returns for the playoffs, or they learn how to play together during the season and then lose a key piece for the playoffs. A shortened season makes it more likely they get all their pieces to the finish line.
    - The Bulls will definitely have more new/moving parts, but they also have a better orchestrator. Miami fell apart for the beginning...even majority of last leason, and brought it together at the end. We can only hope that they have that same awkward confusion hitting the court this year, and that in a shortened season it dooms them.

  • We've officially had enough time to get used to the new website format. It still sucks.

    Doug (or anyone else) - I'm probably moving to Chicago sometime this next year. Do you need another in your group of season tix buyers? Is there a way to e-mail you through the website? Anyone else looking to share?

    -Gringo Rican/Davidmon5 (the new website automatically changed my handle to my e-mail address...just had to fix it).

  • In reply to Gringo Rican:

    Sorry my group is full right now. I would actually probably buy back tickets from the group if I could at this point.

  • As much as I want the Bulls to beat Miami, if they don't bring in other scoring options the Bulls will be just like the teams that the Bulls of the 90's use to beat in the playoffs. In other words... Miami will now play the role of the Bulls of the 90's and todays Bulls team will always come up a little short when it comes to beating the Heat. I will say this... the Bulls brass has plenty of time to figure out the right moves that need to be made and trading Noah just may be in those plans as much as I hate to say it cause Asik could be used as a starter if his game has improved.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I agree that there's a good chance this happens, the one thing the Bulls have going for them is that Rose is much younger than Wade and still quite a bit younger than LeBron/Bosh. Miami will get old eventually even if they do put it all together.

    However, Miami's talent is simply outstanding. They absolutely have dynasty potential, and I'd still be surprised if they don't win at least three titles.

  • A shortened season or not is not much of a reason for the Bulls to win/lose. It is more about who they get to replace Bogans which will determine the next season. They need two guards/SF types preferably two-way players and then shortened/long season doesn't matter.

    That said, the depth will help them against the bad teams. But one thing which needs to change is Thibs's insistence on playing Rose, Deng for 40+ minutes against Minnesota or Toronto type teams. The Bulls need good first quarters to get rests for their starters which all depends on Thibs's offensive sets in the first quarter.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I agree with that.

    Thibs needs to let the bench play a lot more against the scrub teams.

  • i dont think it matters. both teams are well coached and know what they are doing, both teams rely heavily on their top 2-3 guys, and neither team has an important cog who is a risk to show up out of shape to start the season. the bulls need a healthy frontcourt going into the ECF. thats pretty much it, since im assuming they wont be able to add a SG more worthy of playing time than brewer/korver at this point.

  • id like to point something out about lebron james. there may be good reasons to believe he entered into another phase of his career last year.

    1) lebron has played over 25000 regular season minutes. no one else in NBA history has ever played even 22000 minutes through age 26. so even though lebron has played 8 seasons in the nba, its as if hes played 9 seasons. for comparison by the way, MJ was 32 by the time he had played 25,000 minutes.
    2) lebrons steal and block rates fell last season. they havent been this low since the 06-07 regular season, a year when not a few people accused lebron of mailing that season in.
    3) his TO rate was higher than it has been since his rookie year.
    4) his FT rate fell from 17.7% to 15.5%.
    5) his finishing percentage around the basket fell 5 percentage points.
    6) the percentage of jumpers he took increased by 5 percentage points.
    7) his AST rate was lower than its been since 2007.

    this could be a one year fluke, but everything has to end sometime, and it makes me wonder if the whole miami dynasty isnt more fragile than people think.

  • In reply to Gavolt:

    #1 is very interesting, and I'd love to see his undeserved talent fall off a cliff. However, you have to be cautious about reading too much into declining stats last season, as it was the first time he had to share the ball with two other all-stars and there was some "figuring out his role."

    #3 (TO rate) is only because they had no point guard.

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