It's that time again, Sports Fans. The Bulls are officially beginning the 2015/2016 campaign tonight against LeBron James - because of course they are - and his very expensive Cleveland Cavaliers. I mean, I get that the market is changing, but $82 million for Tristan Thompson? Puh-lease.
So let's take a quick look at these Bulls and what to expect:
- Lots of running
- More intriguing offensive sets
- Terrific bench defense
- Not-so-terrific starting unit defense
Let's get all the Negative Nancy-isms out of the way first. Yes, the defense from the opening unit might struggle, and might struggle for a while. There is some rim protection, but nothing that forces opponents to think twice before they enter the lane. Nikola Mirotic is a sly cat in his abilities to pick up both steals and blocks, but his positioning still lacks some inspiration.
Also potentially worrying is the big question that circles Doug McDermott: Can he replicate preseason when things start to actually count? His shooting ability isn't going away anytime soon, but playing against rotation players as opposed to training camp invites might slow him down in reaching those shots in the first place. Time will tell how Fred Hoiberg decides to use him off the Bulls bench, who coincidentally is looking pretty decent for a change.
Plus some sprinkle of Bobby Portis.
I won't lie. That unit may actually have better defensive/offensive dynamics than the starting unit, albeit considerably less talented obviously, and I reckon the secondary rotation will play a huge part in maintaining leads, or even advance them further assuming McDermott, Brooks, and especially Gibson, find their offense early on in the year and ride the wave.
Going up against Cleveland right off the bat is the best test imaginable for these Bulls, and it should provide some insights as to how the team will compete this year. Last year's yo-yo interest/disinterest levels were off the chart, and a huge key for Chicago this year will be cutting that toy down and burning it with fire. Stability and continuity is now the name of the game and tonight will be their first chance to really play the game when it counts.
Welcome to the 2015/2016 NBA season, folks. It's been a hell of a wait.