Questions about the 2010-11 Chicago Bulls: Part 1

1. Will Derrick Rose ascend to superstardom?
Due to a preseason ankle injury, Rose got off to a slow start last season. But if you check out his splits, you can see the month-by-month progression that earned him a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. This progression was punctuated by a blistering April in which Derrick averaged 25.4 PPG, 7.0 APG and 4.1 RPG while shooting 54 percent from the field and leading the Bulls into the playoffs.

By all accounts, Rose has spent this summer doing and saying all the right things. He’s been working on both his defense and his outside shooting while proclaiming his loyalty to Chicago, stating his desire to lead the Bulls to glory, and accepting any and all challenges his team will be facing in the coming season (coughMiamiHeatcough).

I can see Rose’s development accelerating this season, thanks to his innate desire, improved coaching and better teammates. Individually, Rose needs to become a solid three-point threat (which he’s working on), a better defender (which new coach Tom Thibodeau should help with) and a more consistent floor leader (which will be aided by dishing to guys like Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver). And, frankly, he needs to earn more than 4.3 free throws per game and hit better than 76 percent from the line.

I believe in Derrick. I think he’ll do it.

2. Will Carlos Boozer come through?
Boozer is the Bulls’ most significant free agent acquisition since they signed Ben Wallace in July of 2006. But trust me, the Bulls can expect much more out of Carlos than Big Ben ever gave them. Boozer is a dominant scorer and rebounder, and he gives the Bulls their first true inside scoring threat since Elton Brand.

However, there are concerns, such as Boozer’s health (which has been questionable at times), his size (which is small-ish for a power forward) and his defense (which is suspect). What’s more, some people even question his ability to score down low because, by the numbers, that’s not where he scores most of his points.

But while Boozer doesn’t spend all his time in the post, the important thing is he canscore from there. He also has an excellent midrange game and is a fantastic pick-and-roll player, which means he and Rose should be a perfect fit.

Boozer’s presence will make the Bulls much better.

3. Will Joakim Noah develop into an All-Star?
Last season, Noah ranked in the top 10 in Rebounds Per Game (11.0), Defensive Rebounds Per Game (7.6), Offensive Rebounds Per Game (3.4), Rebounding Rate (20.4) and Defensive Rebounding Rate (12.9) and Defensive Rating (101.0).

But wait, there’s more. Despite being limited to only 64 games due to plantar fasciitis, Noah had 28 double-doubles last season. That’s more than Kevin Durant, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Andrew Bynum and Dirk Nowitzki.

Let’s face it, Noah has surprised a lot of people with how much he’s improved since his rookie season. But it shouldn’t be surprising. Noah has always been a winner, and winner’s have a way of rising to the top.

Assuming he can stay healthy, there’s no reason he can provide All-Star caliber play in the pivot. Last season’s per 36 minute stats (12.8 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 1.9 BPG) and Player Efficiency Rating (17.9) were signs of a player on the rise. Assuming Jo’s injury problems are behind him, the sky really is the limit.

4. Will the three-point shooting improve?
Last season, the Bulls ranked 29th in three-point attempts and 28th in three-point percentage. The only team that attempted fewer threes was the Memphis Grizzlies and the only teams that shot worse were the New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons. Note that those three teams missed the playoffs, and the Nets were one of the worst teams in league history.

The Bulls addressed the situation by acquiring Kyle Korver, who set a league record for three-point percentage last season (53.6), and C.J. Watson, who has canned 35 percent of his treys in his three seasons (including 40 percent of them in 2008-09). Then too, Keith Bogans has canned a few open triples during his career and Rose has been working on his long-distance shooting all summer.

I don’t think three-point shooting will be an issue this season.

4. Will new coach Tom Thibodeau improve the defense?
During the 2009-10 campaign, the Bulls ranked 4th in Opponents Field Goal Percentage (.442), 7th in Opponents Effective Field Goal Percentage (.484), 9th in Opponents Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt (.212) and 11th in Defensive Rating (105.3). And frankly, they were even better before Noah was slowed and then sidelines by plantar fasciitis.

Now enter Thibodeau, who has served as an assistant with seven teams over 18 NBA seasons, finishing in the top-10 defensively 15 times. Which mean if everybody stays healthy, the Bulls could be one of the best defensive units in the league this season.

5. More importantly, will Thibs improve the offense?
Last season, the Bulls ranked 23rd in FGP (.451), 24th in PPG (97.5), 27th in Offensive Rating (103.5) and 28th in Effective Field Goal Percentage (.477). Simply put, they were one of the worst offensive teams in the league.

Can Thibodeau, who is known for defense rather than offense, change that? Well, according the K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Thibodeau wowed [GM Gar] Forman and executive vice president John Paxson during an interview in Los Angeles on the eve of Game 1 of the Finals with creative offensive ideas centered on drive-and-kick and pick-and-roll schemes.”

Said Forman: “He’s got a great reputation around the league. Obviously, most of it is for his defensive knowledge and defensive credentials. … We really went back off a number of people he’s worked with over the years, and consistently, they said he’s really got a terrific offensive mind. He’s got creative ideas offensively and maybe wasn’t asked to do that as much in Boston. But he was very, very capable offensively. When we met with him, we asked a lot of questions as far as that was concerned and we liked what we heard.”

I hope all that is true. And anyway, Thibs is going to have more weapons than any Bulls coach since Phil Jackson. That should help.

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23 Responses to Questions about the 2010-11 Chicago Bulls: Part 1

  1. DipenPatel@Chicagobreakingsports.com'
    BULL4EVER August 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    RETURN TO GLORY!!!!!GO BULLS!!!!!!!

  2. Treydog August 18, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    I would have to disagree with the 3 point shooting. The Bulls avergaed only 4.3 3pts made per game which was the second lowest in the NBA for 2009-10. IMHO, with the new acquisitions and assumed improved 3pt shooting from Derrick Rose, I estimate that the Bulls will be about the same as last year or marginally better and will be near the bottom again in the 3pt percentage and 3pts made catagory for the coming year.

    D. Rose will be better. Boozer will put up solid numbers. Noah will improve. The defense will be much improved given the coach’s reputation for in regards to defense. I also think that the offense will improve because of Boozer’s scoring in the power forward position and we will also score more points in trasition. IMHO, I expect the Bulls to be one of the top defensive teams in the league, but only a middle of the road team in terms of offense.

  3. div.bhansali@gmail.com'
    Statcenter August 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Nice work. I think another key is what offensive identity Thibs wants to establish. Allt he ex-Jazz players have deep experience in a flex offense (perfected by Jerry Sloan), but Rose’s skills seem like a better fit for a more pure pick-and-roll or drive-and-kick offense. Someone is going to have to compromise what they’re most comfortable with.

  4. mikemayer3@hotmail.com'
    thirdsaint August 18, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    Nice breakdown. I must admit I’m drooling in anticipation of this season. I want to see how Coach Thibs does with this team. We’ve always been a strong defensive team and now we’ll be even better. I can’t wait to see how Rose and Noah improve.

    I also can’t wait to see what it’s like to have a solid supporting cast that can knock down open shots and a low post presence (even if Boozer isn’t the best at it). This is the season we’ve been waiting for the past 2 years. We no long have scrubs in the shape of expiring contracts. We have a team that’s built to compete for a title.

  5. coolchicagobrotha79@yahoo.com'
    mario August 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Good article, very informative. I’m also looking forward to the season because I feel that the bulls haven’t miss one opportunity to improve this summer and have put together a group of players that will mesh easily. No egotistical players, all players with the exception of Watson, who have played for hall of fame coaches, coach pop and coach Sloan. The bulls may not have enough to compete for a championship, but on any given night they can beat whatever team they play.

  6. reggiemcglory@yahoo.com'
    reggie August 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    well weather or not the bulls have the key pieces to win a chmapion ship or not that will all be determined on the court I feel they do right now, something about the bullls having the best team since MJ and scottie were not on it but also this team has hunger they want to win and not just a playoff game ,something we have not seem n past years also I know they can compete with the best in the league and if you can compete then you can win simple as that this will not only but a great compeditive year but it will be a big winning year here In Chi let the games begin its on get your popcorn ready bulls baby bulls all the Way.

  7. matthewcooper07@gmail.com'
    mc August 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    Boozer is more than capable in the post. IMO, he is one of the top 5 fundamentally sound pivots in the league from both the right and left block. Points outside of the paint can be attributed to his other strong abilities in the pick-and-roll/pop: excellent passer and mid-range shooter (when the defense collapses in the lane). Defensively, he has never played with a defensive center like Joakim, and we will see his best defensively because of this and Thibs system. He is a better player in multiple ways than Bosh and Amare. The additions the Bulls have made this summer will make them at top 3 defensive team and top 12-15 offensive team which is a balance that will make for a serious playoff contender. Is it the end of October yet?

  8. joesez@gmail.com'
    joe August 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    1. Will Derrick Rose ascend to superstardom? No. It takes time.
    2. Will Carlos Boozer come through? Yes, he’s a vast improvement for Chicago.
    3. Will Joakim Noah develop into an All-Star? Depends if people vote for him. He’s on the way – popular and name recognition in a big market.
    4.a Will the three-point shooting improve? Yes.
    4.b Will new coach Tom Thibodeau improve the defense? Yes, he has a better roster.
    5. More importantly, will Thibs improve the offense? he can’t make thr ball go into the hoop but the pick and roll will help %.

  9. Bill Z August 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more. The Bulls finally put some pieces together that make sense. The Bulls were an above average Defensive team last year and were the in the best 2 or 3 rebounding teams as well. With the additions like Boozer and Coach Thibs we should be even better in these areas. That means more points in Transition and a spread floor for our new 3-point additions.

    I am so excited I even went and bought season tickets last week! If anyone wants to go let me know, I am only planning on going to half of the games. bzerinskas@fpis.net

  10. nitespecies@yahoo.com'
    ChicagoBB August 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Seemed like Deng has vanished into the backdrop, what’s going on? Doesn’t he know that gets paid around 11M annually? I’m disappointed. Anyway, Carmelo anyone? We’ll be formidable with Anthony.

  11. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob August 19, 2010 at 4:42 am #

    D. Rose is not a superstar yet. If he continues to show the kind of improvement he showed last year in shooting and defense, he will become a superstar. Superstar is a term people tend to use lightly, But Rose will be one if he continues to work as hard as he has in the past.

    In order for Carlos Boozer to come through for the Bulls he has to stay healthy. If he does that the Bulls will have a bona fide scoring option at the PF position. If he does not stay healthy, we have to hope that Taj Gibson will continue to improve.

    Noah performed at an all-star level last season. I think the question is will he be recognized as an all-star this season. If his game continues to improve at the same rate it has his 1st three seasons he will be an all-star.

    The Bulls 3pt shooting % will improve, that is the most important aspect. I do not care if the Bulls take more 3pters, just hit a higher % of the ones you do take in order to make teams defend against the 3 pter. On the 12 man roster, only 7 players attempted 3 pters last season, Korver 53%, Deng 38%, Bogans 35%, J. Johnson 33%, CJ Watson 31%, Rose 27% and Brewer 26%. Boozer, Noah, Gibson and Thomas did not take a 3pt shot last season. I have no stats on Asik.

    If past is prologue, then the defense should improve. It has every where that Thibodeau has gone.

    Only time will tell on this one. Players that have been coached by Thibs say that he can coach an offense.

  12. bullsfan231@yahoo.com'
    Chris August 19, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    Rose and Boozer were saw in a store getting their 2011 NBA Championship rings fit… HAHA,GO BULLS!

  13. DipenPatel@Chicagobreakingsports.com'
    BULL4EVER August 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    So what if Rose and Boozer and were saw in a store getting their potential rings fitted on their fingers?????hey they play for a title-winning tradition,the NBA’s Steelers/Cowboys.Rose and Boozer play for Chicago,they sure as hell don’t play for the new york bricks or the new jersey nets HA HA HA HA HA HA.GO BULLS BABY!!!!!!

  14. i_gonio@hotmail.com'
    John Blaze August 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    Boozer is over rated! hes soft and even thibodeau can’t hide his crappy defence. (and Noah can not be expected to guard both PF and C). I also highly doubt that the 3 point shooting will magically improve… sure korver is good, but outside of him they are all marginal at best. It will be easy for teams to adjust and cover the only player on the team that is a deep threat.

    This article is high on optimism and low on facts

  15. keenan07@gmail.com'
    Magic Kid August 20, 2010 at 2:34 am #

    Good write up, but drose is more than ready to be that star everyone is waiting for, it’s a attitude, a swagger u must have, and u can see it in his attitude coming into this season that he’s ready, far as boozer he’s not a top low post guy becuause his game has no limit inside of 18feet he can pull up the jumper has probably the best footwork of all powerforwards in the league, that’s why he’s so dominant for a 6’9″ guy. offense will be 10 times better because the team has vets who are mentally sound, the bulls made it to the playoffs with heart filled players, now they have a coach that will shape organized chaos, can’t wait.

  16. keenan07@gmail.com'
    Magic Kid August 20, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    who in their right mind would even say soft and boozers name in the same sentence

  17. hardy33@yahoo.com'
    hardtimes August 20, 2010 at 4:43 am #

    It wont be easy to guard any of our jump shooters from 2 or 3 because they have to worry about Rose and Boozer. If they pay to much attention to the shooters, Rose and Booz is gonna kill em. Plus Noah will be killing on the boards, so someone is gonna have to cheat and help rebound against Noah. That’s when our open shooters will kill em. Deng is gonna have a great year. You can mark my words. Rose, Boozer, and Noah are going to be to much to handle. The Bulls shooters will be great this year.

  18. Bill Z August 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    In regards to John Blaze (comment #14) –

    They are not going to be able to just guard on shooter. Last year they had to watch Kirk and just about no one else from long distance. Now we have 3 or more shooters, not to mention more open looks due to double teams on boozer, and Rose’s drive and kicks. Also, many 3-point opportunities are created in transition. The bulls upgraded their rebounding and defesive abilities this offseason (remains to be seen on the court I understand) which should create a lot of transition buckets. I predict the Bulls go from the bottom of the cellar 3pt % to atleast respectable middle of the pack numbers.

  19. joe.sez@gmail.com'
    joe August 20, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    “Seemed like Deng has vanished into the backdrop, what’s going on? Doesn’t he know that gets paid around 11M annually?”

    Yeah, we don’t hear much about him because he’s playing real well for his home county, GB, this summer.

    Britain is the only unbeaten team among 15 attempting to qualify for EuroBasket. The British beat Ukraine 90-76 on Saturday, with Deng leading the way with 28 points and seven rebounds.

    He doesn’t get into trouble, like the rookie of the year, speeding 130 on HW 80. Deng does his job.

  20. vgerardo50@yahoo.com'
    Gerardo August 21, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    this year boozer should do tremedous in the post with joakim noah by his side, d rose on top. 3 point weapons on the perimeter like korver,watson and bogans(doesnt shoot alot, but could be consistent)…and with deng and brewer killing it from the mid range and attacking the rim. so i expect boozer to average about 24 and 11 each night if healthy (which he is right now)

  21. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob August 21, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    Everyone, the second best 3pt shooter on the Bulls is Deng, over the last 3 years he has hit 36.4% 07/08, 40% 08/09, and 38.6% 09/10. I do not understand why people leave him out of the equation and mention CJ and bogans. While he is not a 3pt gummer, he hits enough so that he has to be defended. He should get more opportunities to shoot 3′s this season with Rose, Boozer and Brewer pounding the ball inside.

  22. felipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    Dj August 22, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    @ BoppinBob

    I hope so because Deng rarely hits any 3pt shots, unless he is wide open. He is more of an inside scorer with his jump shots while slashing to the rim for easy point.

    Deng needs to take more 3pts shot since we have Rose, Boozer and Brewer that can pound the ball inside. (just like you mention already BoppinBob.)

    If we can get Deng to become our 2nd best 3pt shooter behind Korver then that will open up a lot of opportunity for us!

    GO BULLS!

  23. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob August 23, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    Deng has not taken a lot of 3pters in the past, but since Rose got here he has had the opportunity to get some spot-up shots and hit them at a very good percentage (40% in 08/09, 38.6% in 09/10). I am sure that he will become the starting lineups designated spot-up shooter, I believe that he will take more 3′s and continue to hit them at a solid percentage. I also see Noah being more of an offensive threat with Boozer having to be defended Noah will be left with some bunnies. I am psyched for this coming season, I can’t wait to see the defense that Thibs installs and the potential for the offense is scary.

    I also want to say shame on everyone who says that Gibson has hit his potential already, we can’t possibly know that until he gets a chance to play this coming season. I saw improvement all season long last year and anticipate continued improvement and a potential step up in leadership on the second team. It would be a natural, a marginal starter stepping up to be a leader/sixth man of the second unit. It not only could happen but I predict that it will happen. I believe that his potential has not been tapped as of yet. I see Taj becoming a defensive stopper and offensive force on the second unit.

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