How good is this core compared to the 2010 squad?

Derrick Rose was quoted a few weeks back noting that this was the best team he's ever played with. While I think it feels good on the surface, it's worth actually comparing the various players on it, their ability levels, and seeing how good they really are.

Derrick Rose 2010 vs Derrick Rose 2014

We won't know what we'll get out of Derrick Rose in 2014 yet, however, it'd be a miracle if this isn't a landslide win for Derrick Rose of 2010 whom won the MVP. What we've seen from Derrick in Team USA isn't particularly encouraging, but it's also not particularly surprising. He played for Team USA in the summer of 2010 as well and played similarly and did very little.

In that sense, even though Rose isn't playing particularly well for Team USA it shouldn't be a large concern at this stage of the game. However, coming of two injuries and a long time off, even if he's healthy, it will likely take him a half season to round into form. That's somewhat irrelevant for Chicago though isn't it? I don't particularly care if Derrick Rose is in form on November 1st, December 1st, or even March 1st.

We need Rose to be ready by the playoffs. Granted, it's probably unlikely that Rose is playing lousy in March and plays great in May, but if it happened I couldn't care less about his regular season stats.

Still, at this point, the Bulls are probably viewing Derrick Rose staying healthy for a season as a win and just hoping we see him get close to where he was.

Carlos Boozer 2010 vs Pau Gasol 2014

By the end of Boozer's deal we hated Boozer. However, as I noted in my last article comparing Gasol in 2013 to Boozer in 2010, the numbers were very similar and probably slightly favored Boozer. Gasol does more in the low post though, so his impact will probably be felt more, and there's some reason to hope that Gasol leading a cast of scrubs was a bit worse than he'll be playing for the Bulls this season.

His fight might be a bit better, but we shouldn't expect any more from Gasol on defense than we got out of Boozer, nor should we expect a whole lot of dynamic scoring. He will be much better than Boozer of 2013 most likely, but that version of Boozer might as well have been out of the league. Either way, I'll call this one a push, but that might be generous.

Joakim Noah 2010 vs Joakim Noah 2014

Noah in 2010 was a fine player. Noah in 2014 was top 12 in the NBA in win shares and an MVP candidate. I don't think his style of play last year will necessarily be something the Bulls can make use of this year, but it'd be silly to pretend he hasn't improved significantly over the past few seasons.

He's more of a threat on offense, the tornado ball is somewhat more reliable, and his defense is definitely much more fundamentally sound. I don't know that it's a huge improvement given that the way he's used may not make use of all his talents, but he's definitely better.

Taj Gibson 2010 vs Taj Gibson 2014

Taj Gibson had a decent season in 2010, but Taj Gibson of 2014, much like Noah, is a significantly better player. He's become an elite defender in the NBA rather than a good defender, and his offensive game is considerably more consistent. He's developed solid low post moves and improved his jumper considerably.

He's a starting caliber forward now and wasn't back then.

Luol Deng 2010 vs Jimmy Butler 2014

I think it's awfully hard to side with Jimmy Butler vs 2010 Luol Deng, but I'm going to do it anyway. Luol Deng did a bunch of little things, but he also tended to murder the Bulls with poor efficiency and his defense never did anything to slow down LeBron regardless of how good it looked when watching it.

As a defender, Deng's always been fundamentally strong but never excelled in creating offensive opportunities with his defense by generating blocks, steals, deflections, and disruptive plays. In short, he was a superstar at teachable defense but still lacked the explosion to excel in the unteachable parts.

Butler's much better in those areas, and I'd take him defensively over Deng. While Deng's got a better shot, he took it way too much for how good he was at shooting it. Butler's not as talented an offensive player, but he draws more fouls and doesn't hoist up lots of bad looks which might actually be better for the offense than having Luol Deng bail out the defense by jacking up long twos.

Kyle Korver 2010 vs Doug McDermott 2014

We'll see how this goes. The Bulls didn't make anywhere near as much use out of Kyle Korver as they should have, so though I doubt McDermott plays as well as Kyle was capable back then, his limited use due to the Bogans insanity means McDermott might actually help out the Bulls more. On top of that, McDermott has several skills Kyle didn't.

I think it remains to be seen whether his post game ever comes into play in the NBA and whether he does more than shoot, pass, or take one dribble then shoot/pass like Kyle, but there's potential for a little extra there.

That said while McDermott has potential, it's unlikely the Bulls play him any more frequently than Korver played, and I'd guess Korver's confidence and experience were good enough that he's more impactful than rookie McDermott.

Omer Asik 2010 vs Nikola Mirotic 2014

Tough to know what Mirotic will do with so little background into how his game will translate, but while Asik was a solid player, his main strengths didn't add a whole lot to a team that already had two great interior defenders. He also played relatively few minutes. Mirotic may also play relatively few minutes, but his strength in shooting should be more valuable for the team than Asik's interior defense was to that team.

Ronnie Brewer 2010 vs Tony Snell 2014

Brewer destroys Snell defensively. He was a defensive monster back then with explosion, length, and strong fundamentals. However, his lack of consistency doing anything else still made you shrug your shoulders at his insertion to the game. Tony Snell needs to prove he can shoot, and he needs to prove he can defend.

On paper, he's the perfect 3D player, but in practice last season he did neither well. He was only a rookie and has had all summer to work on his game. Marquis Teague fooled me in summer league two seasons ago, so I'm not going to get too excited about Snell's performance in summer league especially given that he fell apart once McDermott was held out for a game.

That said, if he Snell shows he's legit he'll help the Bulls more than Brewer did.

C.J. Watson/Keith Bogans 2010 vs Kirk Hinrich/Aaron Brooks 2014

I wasn't sure which two guys to offset against each other, so I lumped them together. You effectively have a defensive and offensive oriented guard in each pairing that wouldn't play a whole lot. Hinrich is way the hell better on offense than Bogans despite will will likely end up being lower TS% simply because he's at least somewhat of a threat to dribble and won't pass up wide open looks.

Watson's probably a bit better than Brooks, but will probably actually be compared more in use to Hinrich who runs the team better. Overall, when you add up these pairs, it's definitely a win for the 2014 squad.

James Johnson 2010 vs Mike Dunleavy Jr 2014

Dunleavy's somewhat of the forgotten man in fan's minds now simply because people are so excited for McDermott. However, he's still a very solid player in his own right, a good to great shooter who knows how to play the game well and uses his smarts to mask his limited athleticism.

There's no question he's a radically better player than Johnson, and the only question will really be how much he's used and whether we should be comparing him to Korver instead of McDermott. However you line up those comparisons though, Korver wins and Johnson loses. The Bulls have more depth on the wing this year with the combination of McDermott/Dunleavy.

Overall?

The biggest factor of these has to be Derrick Rose right? I think you can make a case that Gibson/Noah are significantly better, but the gap between Derrick Rose 2010 and 2014 might be the gap between adding an MVP type player and a really good player. Noah/Gibson haven't improved enough to cover a lesser version of Rose.

The rest of the roster is close enough to a wash or the gaps between players are small enough to not make much of a difference. That said, I will say I agree with Rose's statement, this is probably the best case he's ever had around him. There's more balance on this team than any other team he's had, the total talent level is higher, and the team has better veteran leadership as well.

We'll have to wait to see how the pieces gel, but on paper, they look like a squad that can win in the mid 60s if Derrick Rose proves he's back and the upper 50s even if he has a relatively slow start.

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  • Great article, Doug, and great comparisons. I think the main difference between 2010 and 2014 is on the offense. On paper, it looks like 2014 is more talented offensively than the 2010 version. I also agree that Rose 2014 will likely be worse than his 2010 version at scoring, but if Rose plays better as a floor general, increases his assistance stats by feeding his shooters/low posters when he is faced with double/ triple defenders , this team is going to be unstoppable.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    If Rose isn't the scorer he was in 2010 then it is unlikely he faces the double/triple teams of which you speak. Being as objective as possible the only thing that Rose has done at an elite level in the pros is getting to the rim and finishing. His defense has only been ok, likely because he had to conserve energy for offense, given the team's flaws on offense. He has been a middling long-range shooter and ball distributor. If he cannot get close to the player he was in 2010, unless some other element of his game has improved greatly since then, he is only a top-ten point guard, certainly not a top 5. Without that finishing ability I doubt he scares anyone amongst the elite teams in the league.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    Yeah I agree. It feels like some folks are hoping he'll turn into Chris Paul with better defense. That's never been his game and few players can completely reinvent themselves. If Rose can't attack the rim like he used to, he will no longer be a great player.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    If he goes the Chris Paul route, he will need to become a very good to great 3 point shooter to really make it work since he will never be as good of a pure point guard as Paul is. I still have my doubts that Rose will ever be a good/great shooter. He just seems like more of the volume scorer type, like Iverson or Hardaway(tim not penny).

  • The 2010 team had horrible efficiency come playoff time. And that was with Derrick as MVP. Talking about 60 wins, what does it really mean in a pathetic Eastern Conf.? Answer: not much. Playoff basketball we've seen is a different animal. If Derrick can score again as in the 20's then they might be pretty good if M&M are solid offensive adds. I think Mirotic if handled properly might be a good offensive player either from the get go or by mid season. However I'm not counting on Thibs to do that. We'll see. It's definitely possible the Bulls will be very good, but it's a wait and see with Rose.

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    In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I don't know about that team's efficiency stats but that team was efficient. The 2010-11 team had the emergence of The Bench Mob in which the Bulls 2nd unit could play against a lot of team's 1st unit and win. Omer Asik, and Taj Gibson seemed to be a perfect fit together anchoring the front court. Ronnie Brewer, and Keith Bogans did a good job defending the wings, and CJ Watson could score from the drive and the shot. The Bulls were the best team in the league that year as they often dominated their opponents with defense and depth. Miami may have had the All Stars, but it wasn't until they played the Bulls in the ECFs till they started to come together on the defensive end. They relaxed on the defensive end against The Mavs and lost in the championship rd. The following year the Heat concentrated on defense, Rose went down with the ACL injury and Noah labored up & down the court with plantar fascitis. Had the team remained healthy they could have won it all then, and the Miami Heat can thank the Chicago Bulls team for showing them how important defense is towards winning big games.

  • Fun topic. I think Rose does have a much better team around him now, though he's probably not as good as he used to be. They don't have anyone as good as Korver now but otherwise look better. The Deng-Butler comparison is interesting. A lot of Bulls fans were big Deng fans and he was a two-time all-star. Now that he's gone, though, we're probably better off with a late first-rounder in Butler than the fake all-star in Deng.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    But maybe that depends on what Bulls have to pay Butler to extend his contract by October? Then again, will Butler play this season without an extension and become a RFA? Will be a bit interesting...

  • Great article and I agree with you Doug. Loving the Bulls chances this year and I'm confidant Rose will be back playing on an elite level come May.

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    Good piece....I won't nitpick on whether so & so was or will be better than so & so cause I tend to agree with most of your analysis. We'll have to wait & see if this new team can be better than that exciting team of 2011. Hopefully, McDermott and Mirotic will fulfill the hype and we'll see 1st hand why Bulls management are so high on these guys. Go Rooks!

  • Good read, Doug. Did you take into account the 2010 players' performances in the playoffs too? I'm just curious because some regressed, while others improved.

  • The only comparison that I would quibble with is Asik vs Mirotic. Clearly they don't play the same position/role on the team and as players they are nearly diametrically opposed.

    Gasol vs Asik would have been a better comp and a Gibson/Mirotic combo vs the bozohole would also have been a better comp also.

    Or maybe you throw Mirotic into the Korver comp as that will likely be Mirotic's role if he gets any playing time. I also think that you may be overrating Korver as Bull. His shooting stats were better both before and after his 2 seasons with the Bulls. Not sure why that is, but it has always bothered me. Maybe it was a function of the Bogan's effect, not playing enough minutes with the starters.

    Overall, this team has more offensive talent, especially if the M&M boys live up to their potential. Defensively this team is almost certainly worse, older, less athletic and no Asik. A lot of this might depend on Gasol, how bad is he, is he boozer bad, or will he be a better defender under Thibs' system/tutelage.

    Finally, it is possible that Rose could be less dynamic individually, yet the Bulls could be much better as a team. In fact, in order for us to become a championship team, this almost has to be the case. As Miami proved the totally Rose centric offense can be shut down in the playoffs. In some ways this is my biggest non health concern about the Rose comeback, does he really know how to play without dominating the offense.

  • The 2014 team should be pretty close to as good as the 2010 defensively. Boozer gets replaced with Gibson and Gasol, Hinrich will get some key minutes, and Butler is an elite wing defender. The offense has to be better. The 2010 team was very good offensively in the regular season but fell apart in the postseason. Boozer was a decent second option in the reg season but had turf toe and could barely move in the playoffs. Asik was brutal, Gibson was not nearly as solid as he is now offensively, and Korver was so one dimensional. Gasol, M&M, Dunleavy and an improved Noah and Gibson can make this offense special, even if Rose is more of a playmaker and less of a scorer. I would bet on 2014, but not by much.

  • If M & M click, the O of the Bulls will be dynamite! True, we cannot be sure that will happen, but both of these guys have the credentials. They may not be flashy like some other rookies, but if they turn out to be 14kt gold, who cares? The Bulls will challenge for years.

    Thibs and the other coaches need to earn their keep and develop these two kids - and also Snell, if possible.

  • Let's hope Thibodeau has evolved as a coach since 2010 as well. That has to count for something.

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    Who is Nikola Mirotic?
    Copy link by HoopsHype's David Nurse : http://hoopshype.com/columns/david-nurse/who-is-nikola-mirotic

    Mirotic brings a high level Euro-esque skill set of craftiness around the rim and dead-eye shooting ability from deep. He brings a weapon that most Euros don’t possess – versatility. Mirotic was the only player in the Euroleague to rank in the Top 15 in scoring, steals, blocks, and player efficiency rating. I won’t go out on a limb here and say he’s Serge Ibaka in the paint, but he is definitely not a stiff. Mirotic held his opponents to 28 percent from the field and a 20 percent turnover rate when guarding in isolation situations. At 6-foot-10, a wingspan over seven feet, and mobility, Mirotic brings the ability to guard a wing as well as bang with a forward down low. Mirotic has a knack for making plays and more importantly making the right play. He only averages one turnover per game. Mirotic shot 53.7 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from three, and 81.1 percent from the charity stripe. Mirotic isn’t only a catch-and-shoot ‘Mehmet Okur Euro’, he has the ability to take defenders off the dribble and get to the hoop (draws 3.3 fouls per game). Mirotic is versatile – both offensively and defensively.

    Mirotic doesn't fall under the common stigma of “soft” European like most of his predecessors before him. He’s not afraid of contact and would rather seek it out instead of shying away from it. Mirotic is a tough-nosed player who isn't afraid to throw an elbow or two and mix it up in the paint with more imposing physical specimens.

    So where exactly are the holes in his game? Mirotic is going to have to add strength and bulk to his frame along with making a more concentrated effort to rebound not only in his area but also grow into a value rebounder, able to extend outside of his area.

    Mirotic possesses all the intangibles of what it takes to become a household name – height, IQ, elite shooting ability, deceptive athleticism, and defensive toughness.

    Fernando Martin from SpanishHoops.com provided a rundown of Mirotic's skills: "He is a fundamentally sound player. He may not be a highlight type of guy, a player that jumps or dunks every time, but he plays consistently throughout the whole game. He loves to run the court, great basketball IQ, good motor, nice touch near the basket.
    "Basically, he is good at everything, but in my opinion the skill that makes him so special is his shooting."

    Hector Fernandez from Onda Cera Radio in Spain described Mirotic as his best friend. "Niko is a winner. He has born for competition. He wants to win in every aspect," Fernandez said. "He is ready for the NBA adventure for sure. "Niko is a perfectionist," "Every summer he goes back to Montenegro to train like a hermit with his longtime coach, Jadran Vujacic. Runs up and down the hills, shot drills, everything. "Basketball is his No. 1 priority. He wants to be the best. He is unselfish on the court, but that doesn't mean he is not ambitious or hungry. He is both.

    Strength and being able to create his own shot are listed as potential weaknesses for Mirotic when he reaches the NBA. He figures to be one of those guys who is tough to match up against. He could take a smaller defender inside or a taller defender outside. In theory, he could complement Taj Gibson, whose inside scoring skills have improved. "He was dominant from Day One. He is the best ACB player and probably the best in Europe. For sure, the best forward."

    Martynas Pocius, Nikola’s teammate with Real Madrid, should know; he’s been within spitting distance as Mirotic has evolved from boy to man and man to monster in only 11 short weeks.
    “His confidence has grown tremendously,” says Pocius. “And with that confidence, he’s been tearing it up.” His 22 points in the first half alone torched his previous career high of 19 as he laid all his cards on the table in one 40-minute session: pumping in threes from the left side, slashing from the outside, finishing on the inside, and drilling a corner three (his favorite) from the right side.

    Mirotic has also apparently made a fan out of head coach Tom Thibodeau, who saw more than just a pretty jumper.
    “But he’s more than a spot-up shooter. He can put it on the floor. I like his frame,” Thibodeau told the Chicago Tribune in that same post-draft meeting with the media.
    “He looks like one of those guys who will get better and better.”

    While many NBA teams reach for European forwards with hopes of turning potential into production, the Bulls put their faith in Mirotic to turn his atypically steady production into undeniable NBA readiness.
    “He comes in early, he stays late, he competes, and when he’s playing well there’s not really a guy that can stop him.”

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Thanks for all the great quotes, Michael! Looks for sure like the Bulls got a top 3 pick in Nicola. Hope the same is true of McD.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Thanks for the link, this was fun. Mirotic is a very exciting prospect. The fact that he's a good defender (for a Euro player at least) is good news, and if you watch the highlights, he's a very versatile scorer with a nice high-post game, can take guys off the dribble, and is adept at finishing with either hand (an underrated asset that bodes well for his scoring ability to translate to the NBA). Strange that he's not a better rebounder.

    Again, someone needs to tell me why the Bulls signed Pau Gasol instead of getting a SG and giving Mirotic more minutes from the get-go.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    AGREED!
    But I'm sorry I don't have the answer as to why Gasol and no SG.

  • Here's how i think the Bulls should start the season.

    c. Noah/Gasol
    pf. Gibson/ Mirotic
    sf. Dunleavy/ McDermott
    sg. Butler/ Snell/ Hinrich
    pg. Hinrich/ Rose/ Brooks

    More than likely Gasol starts at pf due to some kind of promise when they signed him, but Gibson has earned it. Not to mention Gasol is really the only center we have that is capable of subbing for Noah except is smaller lineups when Gibson can also do it.

    Of course many fans want to see McDermott start but he needs to prove himself 1st. People have to realize that he's still a rookie and there is much he still needs to learn about the NBA. Having said that by all star break I would like to see him starting over Dunleavy but he has to work for it.

    As for Rose I know to many it would seem surprising to have him on the bench. But similarly to McDermott he needs to earn the starting job back. He needs to prove he can play more than 30 games without falling apart.

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    I appreciate your thoughts and getting the juices flowing but let's not be silly now, starting Hinrich over Rose. You're talking about a former league MVP, Rose has already earned it. I will start a site called "firethibs.com" if he starts near-washed up Hinrich over Rose but such nonsense will not take place.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    If that happens, you'll need to wait in line to start a site called "firethibs.com", behind Reinsdorf, Paxon, and Forman!

  • If you want to completely scrap developing good offensive cohesion with our starting five you'd start Hinrich. This move would certainly sabotage the Bulls' season and Derrick's comeback. It wouldn't be surprising as much as it would be suicide.

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