This is the Bulls best chance to vanguish LeBron

Let's face it, the Cavs are younger and flat out more talented than the Bulls. They have the best player in the NBA, a top 10 player, and another all star caliber player on the squad. Unlike Miami they have plenty of depth, and that depth isn't just a bunch of older ring chasers, they have some young talented players as well.

The Cavaliers are built to compete for the title for the rest of LeBron's prime, and as long as they don't have any internal melt downs or major injury woes, should be favored to win the East and the NBA title for the next three to four seasons. They might be even stronger than Miami when their big three first got together.

To make matters worse for the rest of the NBA, the team seems likely to get even stronger as time goes on and it can use the some exceptions to add another player next year and much of the supporting cast will be improving still. Irving, Waiters, and Thompson aren't at their peaks yet, and unlike what may have happened with the Heat, everyone on the Cavs will be focused on winning a title because not many guys have rings.

The Bulls are on the opposite side of that coin. Except for their incoming rookies and perhaps Jimmy Butler [though I think he's topped out], the rest of the squad is either trending the same in talent or on the decline. Bulls fans will simply hope their guys will stay the same. Their injury risk is higher, talent less, improvement arc heading in the wrong direction.

You never know in the NBA, perhaps McDermott or Mirotic or both will turn into all star caliber players and turn Chicago into an offense to be feared. It seems awfully unlikely, but stranger things have happened. However, every NBA team will be saying that about their rookies and pretty much every team will be wrong.

So though they're very good on paper, they're clearly worse than Cleveland and don't appear to have much of an advantage anywhere. They'll probably be better defensively, but after adding so many offensive players to the roster this season, Chicago doesn't have as much of an edge there as they might have once had either [I still support those changes though].

What the Bulls have is a puncher's chance to take out the Cavaliers. They can hope to exploit their lack of interior shot blocking and post defense. They'll need Derrick Rose to prove he can destroy Kyrie Irving off the dribble. They'll need Pau Gasol to show he can dominate in the low post against Anderson Varejao.

They'll need to hit their open threes and figure out just how in the hell they'll be able to defend the Cavaliers offensive attack which looks simply ridiculous on paper.

It won't be easy. It might not be possible. It will likely get worse.

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    A lot of people were saying similar things about Miami 4 years ago. Then Wade's knees turned to ash and Chris Bosh went from superstar to role player. With short term contracts the normal, the NBA is volatile. Who says Love or even LeBron stays long term? There are far too many variables to say definitely this is the Bulls best shot. A year ago Indiana was the number 1 seed in the playoffs, this year they might even make it to the playoffs. 3 Years ago Chicago was the top team coming out of the East ready for a rematch with Miami in the ECFs. You never know.

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    In reply to Thomas Rankins:

    This is the worst sports article I have ever read. We are all a little dumber for reading this. The title is why the Bulls will win the East, the content is why they won't. The Cav's sorely lack the team defense needed to win it all. And how did the Bulls get worse on defense when they have Noah, still kept Taj and Butler and Hinrich. They have improved their offense and 3 pt shooting with Gasol, Mirotic and McDermott. This is NOT an old team. Rose is 25, Butler in his 3rd year, Snell young and promising. This guy is an idiot who wrote this.

  • Doug, I agree that this coming season is the best chance the Bulls have to win the ECF and potentially a title. Cavs will need to prove they can play defense with a supposedly coach that is offense minded. The following years rely on how good M&M can be. If Mirotic turns out to be our K. Love and McBuckets our Dirk, we can still be darn good and a team to beat in the East for years to come. Of course, Rose's good health is implied here. I think the Bulls future is very bright, and with a bit of luck, M&M will be our answer for the future to keep Cavs winless for years to come.

  • I don't know if I agree with this article.

    1. Mike miller, James Jones, Brendan Haywood are all old ring chasers. Varejao is also 31 as well.
    2. Tristan Thompson and Dion waiters will need extension in a year or two. They will likely demand pay raise especially if they improve like you projected ("aren't at their peaks yet")
    3. Kevin love and Irving still haven't proven that they can provide volume scoring on a playoff caliber team. Wade and Bosh were both more effective scorer when the big 3 first got together and on better teams. I will say that love and irving will likely mashes better with LBJ as they are both good 3 point shooters.

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    In reply to handushk:

    Agreed. This article is pretty poor in my opinion. First he tries to ignore all our upcoming young talent that have some extreme upside (mirotic? mcdermott? snell?) then tries to say that jimmy butler has suddenly topped off? That's just horrible. If he had looked at Jimmy's stats just the year before he would know how dumb he sounds saying this. And then there are all of your points which he chose to ignore. Atrocious article

  • In reply to handushk:

    I'm with you, I'm struggling to comprehend why people seem to think their bench is so deep. I have no doubt Kevin Love will contribute big time in the playoffs but their bench is half burnt out ring chasers half zero playoff experience young guys who were on a self destructive joke last year. Last years cavs were far from talentless and put up a horrid showing in a historically pathetic east. I'm not ready to count any of the holdovers from that team as solid bench players yet.

  • There's no question the Bulls are underdogs, but they do have a high upside because of the newcomers. We really don't know what we are getting in Rose, Gasol, Mirotic, or McDermott, but Rose and Gasol have been superstars in the past and Mirotic and McDermott could be stars sooner than people think, they are unusually experienced rookies.

  • In reply to TimS:

    I agree with you. In fact, M & M were both deadly shooters the last few years. That should translate to the NBA. If it does and they do, then how does Cleveland (or any team) stop the O of the Bulls?

    There are a few teams whose starters will likely outplay the Bulls - but the bench of the Bulls should outplay every bench in the league, provided the coaches handle the players right. That difference probably favors the Bulls, IMO, but we will see.

  • I won't argue that this year is the Bulls best chance but I think they have more than a puncher's chance this year. The Cavs big 3 is not as good as Miami's when it first got together. Wade + Bosh > Love + Irving. Wade was a MVP candidate and top-5 player, Bosh was an all-star. The rest of the Cavs team is younger than what the Heat had, but I don't know that they're better. Moving forward, it's hard to say what will happen. Also, their new coach is a complete unknown.

    It's "vanQuish" by the way.

    Also for some of you posting yesterday, Mirotic will "complement" Rose, unless you mean he's going to pay him a compliment him on his game or something. Not trying be a grammar snob, a lot of people make that mistake, just trying to help.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Ok, good calls on the spring and grammar. But let's be honest. Derrick could probably use a lot of both right now.

    That's what we need from Nikola this year. Knock down open shots and tell Rose his haircut looks extra sharp today. Finish around the basket, and throw in a, "Hey Derrick - your new Adidas kicks are reeeeally comfortable bro. How do you do it?".

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Spelling, not spring. Autocorrect's like the cops man. Bugs you when you ain't even doing nothing wrong, never around when you actually need help.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Lol!

  • When comparing the Heat’s first Lebron team to this year’s Cavs team, Miami’s Big 3 may be slightly better, but the Cavs overall team is better. The only good supporting players Miami had were Miller and Haslem. Miami only became a truly loaded team in their 3rd year.

  • Thonus, you say that by adding offensive players, the Bulls don't have as much of an edge defensively as before. Just where did they get worse defensively? Using your own superlatives, you are clearly and flat out wrong on that point.

  • In reply to EJMF:

    Well, Butler shouldn't be playing forty minutes a night anymore. Doug Mc or Dunleavy will start at the 3, and we know what kind of defenders they are. Plus, Gasol will get thirty+ minutes a night at either big spot, which is a disaster defensively. Then you've got Mirotic, who you'd be kind to say is unproven defensively. I can see where the drop offs may come from.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Gasol is still better defensively than Boozer. Rose is better defensively than any/all PGs the Bulls threw out there last year.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Exactly. Plus Noah and Butler and Taj should all do their thing on D. So, for those 5 players at least, the Bulls should be better this year! But M & M will play some D under Thibs - it will be a matter of pride.

    However, if M & M between them are averaging 40/15 per game, that puts tremendous pressure on the other team. How do they counter those points and rebounds?

    The Bulls need to play 10 guys per night, blending the O with the D. I do not see how the Cavs can stop them.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    If the M&M boys average 40/15 this season the Bulls are NBA champions. I'm rooting for both of those guys to be good, but I'd bet that they never average 40/15.

  • I'd feel a whole lot better about our chances if we had Kevin Martin here.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Kevin Martin?? What are you smoking? Lmao

  • In reply to qway:

    I gotta be high to think the Bulls could use one more consistent scorer in this clown car of a backcourt rotation? Go ahead, I dare you to tell me how big a Hinrich fan you are. Throw in something about Snell's almighty upside so long as we're passing it around.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    ROTFL

  • I disagree with those comments on our defensive fall off......who did we really lose Boozer? Wasn't like he was a shutdown defender. It all comes down to two players-----Rose & Mirotic. Rose because of health reasons and Mirotic because if he's as good as they advertise you have a 7 footer who would be a tough matchup for most opponents because of his size and shooting ability. I feel Rose will have a monster season. .....this kid is motivated and the rest of the team will follow him.......GO BULLS!!

  • In reply to qway:

    Very few Euro guys make it to the vaunted pinnacle of actually being "as good as they advertise."

  • Fans want to be excited about the Bulls. I understand. I'm just very skeptical about Derrick aka ICE at this point. If you look at their roster on paper right now I just don't see anything near a championship team. Not unless M&M both are legit efficient i.e quality contributors, and Derrick stays healthy which I just don't feel is going to be the case. Hope I'm wrong.

    And as far as the Cavs their coach and system is an unknown. I like Irving, but going from a joke team to a contender is usually somewhat of an evolution. I would not be too surprised if the Cavs make it out of the pathetic East, only to be dominated in the Finals. I mean look at James, while he was not the problem last year, he should be 1-3 right now in the Finals.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Did you feel the same when you looked at the Spurs roster of last two years on paper? Just saying...

    It was a 38 year old that got Miami its last ring (spare part on paper per se).

  • Your article today is a very realistic look at where the Cavs and Bulls stand in the Eastern Conference, Doug. It's nice to be in the conversation, but this team doesn't smack of 2015 World Champions, with a core that's only getting older.

    As a side note, man, I hate LeBron. I've thought for a couple years now that it would be a really great story if he returned to Cleveland, well, he returned, probably on the condition that Kevin Love comes too. He needs the cavalry every step of the way. It's easy to dislike that. The face of the NBA can never quite stand on his own two feet.

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    Good post...I agree 100 with the Bulls window of opportunity being closer to being closed than the Cavs window. How much longer can Joakim Noah continue to carry the team defensively? Is Pau Gasol already over the hill? What about Taj Gibson? Will Derrick Rose last a full season? Does Kirk Hinrich still have enough lateral movement to stay with the younger quicker guards out there? It's good to keep a solid core together for as long as possible, but you can't beat age.

    The good news is that the Bulls have a nice balance of vets and youth on their roster. Who knows how good McDermott, or Mirotic will be, or if they'll even be any good. Does Tony Snell, and Jimmy Butler have another level to reach or have they reached their ceiling already? It's the unknown factors which makes this season so appealing.

    Personally, I always have high hopes for Bulls rookies even though they rarely come through, but it's the only reason I watch the Nov & Dec games. Every year there's a couple of rookies who makes an impact for their teams, and changes the balance of the NBA landscape, and hopefully this year they'll be playing for the Bulls

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    This was clearly written by a Lebron fan.

    Cleveland isn't clearly better than the Bulls. They don't have more depth and they don't have a better coach. And discounting the Bulls young depth while propping up Cleveland's is a little silly. Cleveland's bench looks pretty weak other than Waiters(IF he's not starting).

    This experiment of putting together a "Big Three" got Miami a couple titles. But let's be honest, with all the hype about that team being UNSTOPPABLE they really weren't. Four years together and only 2 titles not 4. And of those 2 titles San Antonio should have won the 2012-2013 title. And if Derrick Rose hadn't gotten injured in 2011-2012 who knows if that would've changed anything in the Eastern Conference Playoffs that season. But fine, they won, congrats. All I'm saying is it wasn't easy for that group and I think the Miami "Big Three" were better than Cleveland's. Lebron was younger, Wade was better at the beginning than Irving is now. And Bosh put up numbers in Toronto that are similar to Love. And Bosh was a better overall player when you factor in defense. Once Bosh started playing with Lebron, he just looked like a complementary piece offensively. The same might happen with Love, and if so, Love won't give them as much defensively.

    The Bulls do have question marks as well. Most noticeably Derrick Rose. But I'm looking forward to this season. Hopefully everyone stays healthy on both teams and may the best team win.

    We'll see....

  • In reply to Cj Jackson:

    Well said. Let's not give Cleveland the ECF title just yet... I think it could go either way. Varejau and Irving are injury prone. Waiters and Tristan Thompson are young, but are they really that good? Waiters was supposedly on the trading block all last year.

    I'm trying not to be a homer, but assuming health is good for both teams - a big if... I'd lean towards the Bulls over the Cavs. Bulls have more depth. Better D. Better rebounding. Bulls biggest weakness was shooting and that seems to have been addressed, but we'll see. LeBron is the best player on the court, so they do have that going for them...

    It should be close, but Chicago is not a definite underdog.

  • Don't agree. I think Doug overrates Cleveland. Wade was a finals MVP and a proven go-to guy on a perennial playoffs team (without much talent elsewhere on the roster) when the original big three joined forces. Even Bosh was often criticized for "only" leading Toronto twice to the playoffs in his career. Well, guess what, Love never made it and Kyrie led his team to an amazing 33 win season on a depleted eastern conference last year.

    And let's not forget it, playoffs are about matchups. I'd favor Noah/Gibson against Love and Rose/Hinrich over Irving. I also think Butler does as good a job on Lebron than anyone in the league.

    Besides, Chicago is a proven established team with lots of veterans on the right side of 30 (minus Gasol). The Bulls have a great defense and unselfish players (i don't think Irving will be that good of a player when the ball passes the majority of the time on James' hands).

    Ok, i'll even make an august prediction. As long as Rose is healthy throughout the season, i'm picking the bulls against Cleveland.

  • In reply to brazilianbullsfan:

    Agreed!

  • Man bleacher reports have always been biased. Chicago is clearly the favorite as of now. Bit of a surprise but eh. Rose has always made lebum and kyrie look like shit. There's no more stupid boozer so if rose stays healthy and works with Pau it's over...

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    Not a great analysis. The Bulls won 48 games last year without Rose, Mirotic, Pau or McDermott. They dumped Boozer, who was below PER. They project to win about 63 games this year.

    Love was the best player on a really bad team. Like Love, Bosh was second-team all-NBA the last time he played on a bad team. Last year he got one All-NBA vote. Unlike Love, Bosh can play defense. And Kyrie Irving is not as good as Dwayne Wade.

    "...turn Chicago into an offense to be feared. It seems awfully unlikely..."

    No, it doesn't. CHI was a top-5 team in offensive efficiency the last full year Rose played -- and we've added better shooters and passers this year.

  • In reply to TD74:

    Individually, Love and Irving don't add up to Bosh and Wade. But, they compliment (did I spell that right, Roman?) LeBron much better b/c they can shoot 3s. I think it could go either way - Cleveland could be better than Miami, or not.... depends on how they gel together and injuries.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I'm sure they will tell LeBron how much they like his new, slimmer physique. Whether or not they complement his game remains to be seen.

  • Unfortunately, I have to totally agree with you today. The only question mark for me, is whether the Lebron of 4 years ago was better or worse than today's Lebron. There is no doubt that athletically Lebron was better in Miami than he will be this time around in Cleveland.

    It is not unlike asking if the Michael of the first 3 peat was better or worse than the Michael of the second 3 peat. Michael was older than Lebron at each given stage, but he was clearly better during the first 3 peat.

    Actually, you could look at Lebron's Miami years as equivalent to the Bulls first 3 peat, and his upcoming Cleveland years as equivalent to the Bulls second 3 peat. The end of one and the beginning of the other opening perhaps a 2 year window for someone else to win a championship just like Jordan's retirement did.

    Lebron won 65 games with far less talent his first time around in Cleveland, they should win at least that many this time around. They should make a run at 70 wins or even the Bulls record of 72 in any or all of the next 2-3-4 years especially if they are willing to use the full MLE every year and pay the resultant taxes.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    There are reasons that only one NBA team in history had 72 wins in a regular season. (And they would have had 73 if Phil had not tanked the last game!) I doubt we will ever see it again.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Yes, 72 wins is tough to beat.

    I think this Bulls team can win 65-67 without Thibs overplaying players as long as Bulls get lucky with health. The East is pretty bad. Thibs dominates the regular season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Records are made to be broken, but the Bulls' 72 win record season will not be beaten by LBJ. Mark my words.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    I am certainly not predicting that they will break the record, but I bet that they will make us sweat it out a couple of times over the next few years. Personally, I don't want anyone else to even get to 70 wins or even 69 for that matter. My limit is 68, which will always leave the Bulls with the top 2 spots.

  • Wade had a ring.....Bosh was a perennial all star with playoff experience. WHO IS WAITERS? WHO IS THOMPSON? ......

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    There's no "g" in vanquish. LOL. Spell check.

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    vanquish [van-kwish]

    verb (used with object)
    1. to conquer or subdue by superior force, as in battle.
    2. to defeat in any contest or conflict; be victorious over:
    "to vanquish one's opponent in an argument."
    3. to overcome or overpower:
    "He vanquished all his fears."

  • Just one question, Doug.

    Given that the Cavshave five 31 or older guys who are all part of their 10 most likely to play compared to the Bulls who have just three players that old, which threesome of the following, Marion, Miller, Jones, Haywood, Varejao do you consider superior to Gasol, Dunleavy and Hinrich?

    (Hint) Any answer other than that there are not 3 of those Cavs players who will be better/more valuable, THIS YEAR, than the Bulls trio proves one of two things. A.) You're really a Cavs(LeBron) fan or you don't know what you're talking about

  • Please spare us of your indignant attitude. Doug is neither A or B--which you forgot to include BTW.

  • Fear never wins in a fight, the man or team that keeps their head focused on goals and performing during a battle is more effective. The coach can overcome by not focusing on winning every season game. He may be better off letting someone-else start at point guard other than Rose which would allow Rose any extra time his body needs to get into playing shape. The coach must think playoffs and not the regular season which he has never done for Chicago.

    The coach must start another point guard until Rose is ready and the coach must allow M and M, Butler, Snell all the time they need to be NBA tough. The Bulls need to trade for the point guard that Phoenix can't sign and sign the best available center. The FO must spend.

  • God bless Derrick Rose, and may he always be healthy.”

    -Win Butler of Arcade Fire

    Plenty of Bulls love in the UC tonight folks. I feel a great season ahead!

  • Blache and Bledsoe are two players that could gain esteem by playing effectively for Chi in allowing their value to go sky high in prep for the coming NBA new TV contract. For that reason they may sign.1 year contracts.

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    I don't know what this guy is talking about. I expect Mirotic and McDermott to be quality guys. These are very seasoned players, not freshman and sophomores trying to make the jump. Old school. The jump for outside shooters is a lot different than those who have to face the inside bigs. I think the Bulls win the east with or without rose, with this squad. Brookes won't play, but he can, and he'll thrive with Thibs. I'm a little worried about Mirotic trying to drive more than he does, as he doesn't match up to others who play to his position in that dimension very well. He might adapt though. Even if he doesn't, Gibson will fill that hole. Cleveland is going to be one of the worst defensive teams in the conference though. Bulls will be top ten in offense, and number one in defense. Mark those words. That's the difference. Cavs can't even compete with this Bulls squad.

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