Scottie Pippen dished out a vote of confidence to the team and offered early analysis on the core personnel.
The Bulls will win 50 games, Derrick Rose will become an elite player, Carlos Boozer will diversify this offense, and Joakim Noah will push this team to be a winner, Scottie Pippen wrote last week at his Bulls.com column.
His team overview:
Having watched the Bulls in the preseason, I'm convinced they'll be able
to put together some nice streaks throughout this year, especially once
Boozer is back. They play with a high level of energy, and defensively,
they've all made an effort to be better. That's a tribute to Coach
Thibodeau and his staff. They play hard, they take care of the
basketball, and they play together.
He seems to be most impressed that D-Rose "has high expectations for himself" and expressed confidence that he "is going to be a great leader for this team."
Boozer's "tremendous boost for the team," Pippen wrote, "will be felt instantly," adding:
Anytime you can achieve penetration through passing, it makes the game
easy. When you've got a guy you can throw the ball to inside, you can
forget the dribble penetration and pick-and-roll to a degree because
there is nothing easier than making a direct pass to the post. That is
something that Carlos brings to the table and that's why his return will
make them better immediately. It will affect how teams defend the ball
and open up a lot of possibilities for the Bulls.
Carlos has a very high basketball IQ and he's one of those guys who
makes his teammates better. He's always been a willing passer who plays
with a team mentality, so I expect him to be a great fit. He and Derrick
will make for a very formidable 1-2 punch on the offensive end of the
floor. Granted, it will take some time to build that necessary chemistry
and get on the same page. Ideally, that would have happened in the
preseason. But Carlos has still been around and watched every practice.
He's got great fundamentals. He's learning, too, and seeing firsthand
how Derrick plays. That being said, there's nothing like being out on
the court with your teammates.
Noah is "a favorite" of Pippen, writing "he will play another huge part in where the team ends up this season" for reasons tangible and intangible:
He always has a significant impact on how this team performs night in
and night out. He always brings that energy and a great defensive
effort. He sets an example for how the Bulls should rebound the ball and
compete. While Derrick does a lot, especially offensively, Joakim sets
the tone in this sense with his presence and it's always felt. It may
not always be from a scoring standpoint, but he adds an intimidating
factor that the team didn't have before.
Noah is a great communicator when it comes to defending. It provides a
comfort zone for your players on the perimeter when you have a big guy
who is talking and giving you that sense of confidence. It's a great
Pippen added a strong vote of confidence for new head coach Tom Thibodeau and expects the Bulls, like most, to be in the same playoff mix with Milwaukee and Atlanta, with Boston, Miami, and Orlando at the top of the East.
Pippen makes a very strong, but I still wouldn't be shocked if the Bulls won 45-48, though they should smack around seven-to-nine teams throughout the season in the East. Even if they don't win 50, home court in the first round of the playoffs and health at that time will be a success in my book.