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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SDH's 2012/2013 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 14. Chicago Bulls

Overall Win/Loss Record :  50-16 first place Central Division

Last Season’s Rank

8
Projected 2012/2013 Finish

14
Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank
  • Points Scored: 96.3 (18th)
  • Points Allowed: 88.2 (1st)
  • Team FG%: .452 (12th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .421 (2nd)
  • Rebounds per game: 46.7 (1st)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 40.0 (3rd)


Returning Individual Statistical Leaders
  • Scoring: Loul Deng (15.3)
  • Rebounds per game: Joakim Noah (9.8)
  • Minutes per game: Loul Deng (39.4)
  • Assists per game: Rip Hamilton (3.0)
  • Steals per game:  Loul Deng (1.0)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Joakim Noah (1.4)


Projected Starters Based on Last Season’s Performance, Veteran Seniority and Projected Impact


Key Reserves Based on Last Season’s Performances, Veteran Seniority and Potential Impact.
  1. Taj Gibson (F),
  2. Nate Robinson (G),
  3. Marco Belinelli (SG),
  4. Nazr Mohammed (C)
  5. Jimmy Butler (G/F)

2012/2013 Projection:  47-35 second in the Central Division, along with another early playoff series exit making it a very dark day for hoop fans in the Windy City.

Analysis:

How the mighty have fallen—just two years ago the Chicago Bulls were poised to be a challenger to the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference crown and a possible title contender.  Now any hope of the Bulls returning to championship glory have been ground to dust with the news that the team’s star Derrick Rose will not be playing at the start of the season due to injury.  To make matters worse, many do not expect Rose, who led the team in scoring and assists along with earning league MVP two seasons ago, to be available until March at the earliest.  It does not help either that Chicago no longer has one of the deepest and talent rosters anymore as they were forced to let players go due to financial reasons.  And the players they have acquired to replace them are far cry from the second unit they had before making many wonder if the Bulls have enough to make the playoffs let alone contend for a title.

Chicago’s house cleaning started with the departure of backup center and fan favorite Omer Asik who was given an offer that he simply could not refuse by the Houston Rockets.  In a deal which many saw as a “poison pill,” the Rockets offered Asik up to 30$ million for three years with the last season at 14.5$ million.  Chicago, obviously not matching that amount of money to keep a backup, was forced to let him go and then replaced him with an older and more affordable backup in Nazr Mohammed.  At 34 years old, Nazr has probably seen his best basketball pass him by and he was not much of a factor last season in his previous team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.  In the Thunder, Mohammed was limited to just eleven minutes per game while just producing two points and two rebounds per game—a far cry from Asik who averaged close to four points and six boards in just 15 minutes of action.    

Chicago fans also were forced to say a fond farewell to the two players that kept the team winning without the presence of the team’s leader, Derrick Rose.  Last season, both CJ Watson and John Lucas III replaced Rose’s production rather admirable combining for 18 points and six assists per game which was rather close to what Rose, himself produced when he was able to play.  Watson become a unrestricted free agent once the season ended was then later picked up by the Brooklyn Nets to the tune of 7$ million for two years while Lucas has found a new home with the Toronto Raptors.  Replacing them are two players who can be considered more liabilities than assets in Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague.  Robinson, at just 5’9”, has been in the league for seven years and still has no point guard skills whatsoever and is very much a defensive liability due to his size while Teague, a rookie at 19 years old, will probably see little or no time off the bench.

The Bulls hope that returning veteran Kirk Hinrich will somehow fill in the void of Derrick Rose’s absence, but that is all but wishful thinking.  For the last five years, Hinrich has been in a five year shooting slump as his production gradually each year dropped from averaging 16.6 points and 6.3 assists per game in 2007 to just 6.6 and 2.8 assists per game last season.  Injuries have slowed him down even further as he has lost much of his quickness to go along with his deteriorating shooting stroke.  Yes, fans in Chicago will certainly welcome him back as he was a fan favorite for many years; unfortunately, the Kirk Hinrich they will be getting is not the same Kirk Hinrich that they remember from five or six years ago.  That player is now gone and has been replaced with one that is a shadow of what he once was.

The final blow came when Chicago discarded their two swingmen, sharpshooter Kyle Korver and athletic perimeter defender Ronnie Brewer for little or nothing.  Korver, one of the league’s highly reputed long range gunners, was traded away to the Atlanta Hawks for an exemption and cash considerations while Brewer was simply let go of as he went on to sign with the New York Knicks for just a little over a million  for the season.  Their replacements are hard to swallow for Bulls fans as they consist of Vlad Radmonovic and Marco Belinelli.  Vlad is a weak and slow 6’’ 10” small forward who cannot defend nor shoot while Belinelli has never been the mark of consistency throughout his NBA career.  Altogether, Chicago will be entering the season with a far weaker than they had last season and as a without Rose will be struggling just to stay in the playoff race—a far cry from the Championship contenders they once were.