NBA Season Preview: Chicago Bulls

To put it simply, the Chicago Bulls are a major threat. With the return of star point guard, Derrick Rose, the Bulls have a legitimate chance at making a run for the title. With the Bulls’ starting lineup and one of the best coaches in the league, this team, if healthy, will be scary good.

It will be a surprise to absolutely no one that Derrick Rose will start at point guard. Rose, the league MVP in 2011, disappointed fans this past May when he did not return for the playoffs after being absent for over a year following a torn ACL. Joining Rose in the starting lineup will be Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler, and Luol Deng. Together, this squad has the potential to become the league’s toughest team on defense, as well as putting up a fight against any team offensively.

(Photo Credit: Bullstv)

Although the team’s star player is coming off a long injury, the Bulls have shown that they can function and win without Rose,  if necessary. Last season, Chicago finished 5th in the East, designating a spot for them in the playoffs. They went on to lose to Miami in the conference semifinals, however, their playoff showing was decent. With the loss of Rose, players like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and even young shooting guard, Jimmy Butler, stepped up fill the void. Noah competed in his first All-Star game last season and Deng was named an All-Star reserve for the second year in a row.

(Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/NBAE/Getty Images)

This year, look for the Bulls’ defense to outshine almost every other team in the league. Coach Tom Thibodeau is known for focusing on the defensive aspect of the game. Most notable is his pick and roll defense. Thibodeau is fortunate to have Noah, one of the league’s best big man defenders, whose pick and roll defense is impeccable. What stands out about Thibodeau’s defense? The Bulls put an extra defender on the strong side against isolations, which cuts off all paths to the paint. This forces players to either take the jump shot or pass over the top to the weak side rather than go up for a lay-up or dunk.

(Photo Credit: ChicagoBullsWallpapers)

Another reason why Thibodeau’s defensive plan works so well is because his entire starting lineup consists of excellent defenders. Aside from Noah, Deng is a valuable part of the Bulls’ defense. Last season, Deng typically had the responsibility of defending the toughest opponent and he was voted second team All-Defense. To add, Deng is also a vital part of the Bulls offense, leading the team in scoring and leading the league in minutes per game. Another player who has the potential to be voted to the All-Defense team is Jimmy Butler. Butler is not shy when defending, known for getting up in the ball-handler’s face. The way he destroys set plays is phenomenal.

(Photo Credit: USA Today Sports)

One weakness on defense comes from Carlos Boozer. Luckily, the Bulls have one of the best defensive players coming off the bench in Taj Gibson. Although Boozer is weak on defense, he makes up for it in rebounds and his ability to get to the basket; Boozer nearly averaged a double-double in points and boards last season.

The aspect of the Bulls roster that fans and critics are wondering about most is, of course, Derrick Rose. If Rose can come off his injury and get back to his MVP-style play, the Bulls have a chance at the NBA title. If, however, Rose either becomes re-injured or cannot perform at the level he is previously known for, the Bulls will struggle.  Rose sat out of Saturday night’s preseason game against the Washington Wizards due to knee soreness. The Bulls pulled out the win, however, fans are anxious to see if knee problems will continue to affect Rose’s game and the Bulls season at large.

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(Photo Credit: Trey Kerby)

Follow Laura Peters on Twitter @laurapeters24

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