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.
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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