With the All-star break approaching, and the return of Joakim Noah sitting not far-off from that, the Chicago Bulls will soon have their full roster available for coach Tom Thibodeau's use. The team currently sits at 38-16, third best in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
With the Bulls right on the tail of the two powerhouses in the East, Miami and Boston, the question demands to be asked: how good are the Chicago Bulls?
The team has only had its big three players- Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah- on the court together for a meager nine games all season. Despite that obvious disadvantage, the Bulls have a .704 winning percentage; hardly trailing the Boston Celtics (.741) and the Miami Heat (.732).
Considering the injury problems thrown his way, not to mention the necessity of the continued development of his emerging superstar in Rose, Coach Tom Thibodeau must be one of the top picks for Coach of the Year thus far.
The Bulls' success despite these hardships makes one wonder where the team would be if Boozer's hand had not caused him to miss the beginning of the season, or if Noah had been able to remain on the court during the past couple months. With the Bulls trailing the two noted "Big Boys" of the East by mere percentage points, isn't it conceivable that Thibodeau's team would be just about even with the Celtics and the Heat if he had possessed a healthy roster all season long?
With Noah's return just around the corner, fans can be excited to finally get a glimpse of just how good this Bulls team will be. Rose is currently averaging 24.9 points, 8.2 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game, while also improving his free throw percentage to 83.8%. Boozer is adding an average of 19.3 points and 10 rebounds a game, while Luol Deng boasts 17.6 per game.
Altough it may take some time for him to regain his game, and for the team to gel with him back, Noah was averaging 11.7 rebounds and 14 points per game. His return to the roster will be huge for the Bulls, even if it does take a number of games to work out some kinks. Add in the contributions being made by Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson, and the Bulls have a roster that is both deep and scary.
Before the season, fans seemed to be excited about Rose, Noah, and the addition of Boozer making them more than a first-round exit from the playoffs, but with the way this season has gone thus far, the Bulls must be looked at as serious contenders to make the Eastern Conference finals... and, dare I say it, win them.
With that, I ask you, the Chicago Bull fan; how far do you think this team will go? Will they surprise many and make the NBA finals, or will this regular season success not quite equate to that big of a jump so soon? Right now, I'm confident saying that the Bulls could easily make the Conference Finals, and I wouldn't be that surprised if they took them- but much of that may matter on the matchups and how things play out in the early round of the playoffs.
Am I getting ahead of myself?