With 2011 upon us, the Chicago Bulls will begin the New Year at 21-10, by far their best record since the Michael Jordan Era.
However, the Bulls aren't a perfect squad. They could use health and upgrade at shooting guard among other things.
Most people make New Year resolutions, but many of those people fail to come through. I thought of a way to incorporate New Years with my favorite NBA team, the Bulls: player-by-player resolutions heading into 2011.
Note: I'll try to keep them as realistic as possible.
There's no doubt the 7-footer from Turkey can rebound and play defense, but the Bulls, especially with Joakim Noah out, need Asik to be an offensive threat on the floor.
One main factor that's giving Kurt Thomas the bulk of the playing time at Center over Asik is his ability to hit the 10-to-15 footer. Asik fails to do that, or show any type of back-to-the-basket game. He also doesn't call for the ball much, either.
If Asik can develop an offensive game that can be utilized, he will see much more playing time in 2011 and secure his spot as the backup center once Noah is back.
Hit your shots.
It's as simple as that. Bogans takes just under 4 shots per game, and 2.5 three's per game.
He's only 30 years old, so it's not like he's lost many steps, but his responsibility is to play defense and hit open shots. Fellow Shooting Guard Ronnie Brewer has arguably played better defense than Bogans and he's clearly been the better overall offensive option. Nonetheless, coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't even came close to wavering about Bogans' starting spot.
I thought in a blog post less than a month ago that Bogans' days in the starting-five were numbered. But Thibodeau has stuck with the 7-year vet.
I don't necessarily think it's that big of a deal that Bogans is starting, because he's usually not the one who's finishing the game(s) -- which is what really matters. However, that doesn't mean it's acceptable that he can start off games bricking wide-open jumpers either.
Health has always been an issue for the two-time All-Star and it affected Boozer's status early in the season when he was sidelined the first month plus with a broken pinkie.
As long as Boozer stays healthy this season and for the playoffs, the Bulls will be viable contenders in the Eastern Conference. Without him, they are simply a first or second-round team.
Continue hitting that mid-range jumper.
Brewer has always been an above-average defender, but the knock on him has always been his lack of consistently hitting the mid-range shot.
That was the case early in the season, but as of late, Brewer has been knocking that mid-range jumper with consistency and has made defenses pay for leaving him open. With Rose on the attack, he'll get several open looks, but it's on him to continue to knock it down. If he can show the coaching staff that he's a consistent shooter, at whatever distance, then he might get himself a promotion, as well.
Get a killer instinct.
Yes, this might be the biggest pipe dream of all the resolutions, but if Deng ever develops a killer instinct, it's over. Seriously, it's over.
Deng has always been a first 3 quarter(s) player; never been a player you could consistently go to in the clutch. The Bulls thought he'd be that during the 2006-07 season when he put up stellar numbers including an outstanding first-round performance against the Miami Heat, but it has been downhill ever since. Maybe the rest of the NBA found out his weaknesses, or maybe he just got complacent.
Nonetheless, if he ever gets a killer instinct, he'd be one of the top-tier Small Forward's in the NBA. But for now, his role on this team is to be the third option.
Put on some muscle.
Gibson is a starting caliber PF in the NBA, but with Boozer in the fold, he won't be starting in the near future. Who knows where his best years will come?
Maybe that's here in Chicago, or in Denver, or in Memphis (three places he could be dealt for an upgrade at SG), but where ever he goes he will have to put on some muscle if he wants to maximize his potential.
It's a scary thought that Gibson, who already has solid post-moves, can be an even dangerous force, but it can certainly be done if he puts some muscle on. Frankly, it's easier said than done.
Study the game of basketball inside and out.
It's clear that Johnson has the hops and size to become a good player in the NBA. But he lacks the basketball IQ to do so.
It seems that Johnson spends more time getting new hair dos than he does practicing and studying game tape. Whatever the case, he has to get his head straight. He has the potential of being the Bulls' backup SF, but he hasn't taken advantage of the several opportunities given by his previous coach Vinny Del Negro and now Thibodeau.
There's more to the game of basketball than just athleticism, hopefully Johnson understands that and works on the intangibles to get his game right.
Return to last season's (2009-10) form.
Last season, Korver shot just under 50% from the field and 54% from the three-point line. That's insane.
This season, Korver is shooting 43% from the field and 40% from three; although, he is shooting 2 more shots per game, which has led to his dip in FG%.
This might be an unrealistic proposition, but if Korver returns to last season's level of shooting, it will lead to not only an assist increase for Rose, but a much better Bulls team. Korver has been dangerous shooting the ball this season, but he's been just as streaky.
John Lucas III
If you're ever called upon again: hit your free-throw's.
Just in case you missed it, Lucas was signed by the Bulls on November 26th because of an injury that sidelined Rose for a game. At the time, the Bulls were unsure how long Rose would be out, but signed Lucas, who was with the team during preseason, for insurance.
He got game action immediately when the Bulls played the Denver Nuggets in Denver. The moment fans most remember Lucas was when the Bulls were leading 97-96 late in the 4th quarter. Thibodeau brought Lucas in when there was about 24 seconds left, to give the Bulls FT shooters on the court. However, the move backfired as Lucas was fouled with 12.9 seconds left and missed a pair of free-throws, giving the Nuggets a chance to win the game. They did just that, as Carmelo Anthony hit a buzzer beater, giving the Nuggets a 98-97 win.
Hit your free-throw's, Lucas.
The Bulls don't need Noah to rush back, but they will certainly need Noah come playoff time.
They not only need him for the playoffs, but it's imperative that Noah's in sync with the team -- from pick-and-roll's with Rose to defensive schemes.
Get foul calls.
It's getting ridiculous that Rose -- a Rookie of the Year, NBA All-Star in his second year, and an MVP candidate in his third season -- doesn't get the calls he should be getting from referee's. This has led to him being much more vocal with the refs this season and although he's increased his FT attempts to 5.1 per game, it just feels like a guy who drives to the basket as much as he does should get to the line more often.
Most players flail and flop to get calls, but Rose is honest and sincere about it. He rarely exaggerates contact and only argues when it's clear he was fouled.
Other players resort to excessively arguing with the refs, thus garnering more and more technical fouls, but Rose hasn't gone down that path either. He only has 1 career technical foul, which came this season ironically. Maybe it's the start of things to come?
Hopefully, 2011 brings Rose more free-throw attempts.
Hopefully your presence means a long playoff run.
Scalabrine has played in 3 NBA Finals series -- 4 if you count 2007-08, when he was inactive for the Boston Celtics/LA Lakers series.
I just have a feeling there will be a point in the season where Scalabrine will hit a big shot and everyone will think, "this is why we brought him here!".
He might be a lucky charm for all I know.
Continue doing what you're doing.
Thomas is playing on his final legs right now, his defense has been stellar, and any offense he gives is gravy.
I've been impressed at how well he's played despite all the rust. It isn't easy for a player in his late 30's to not play consistently for nearly a month of the season and then get 25-30 minutes per night.
I'm content with the way Thomas has played; just continue what you're doing, "Big Sexy", as Stacey King calls him.
Look for your shot; forget this pass-first mentality.
Watson shot nearly 47% from the field last season, but it has dropped all the way to 38% this season. I think most of the blame should be put on the coaching staff for Watson's downfall.
He clearly isn't best suited when bringing it up, passing it off, then going to the corner. He just isn't. Instead, he needs the ball in his hands to score and make plays for his teammates.
Let Watson get the pick-and-roll's that Rose gets when he's in, Watson showed against the Nuggets earlier this season -- when he scored a season-high 33 points -- that he can be a scoring threat. He scores in spurts, and since the Bulls play him in spurts any ways, might as well let him have the floor when he's in, right? It starts with him, though. Forget passing it off; if you're open, shoot it.