What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 15. Chicago Bulls

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  7-7  ,  second place Central Division




14
This Month:
15
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)

Points Scored: 94.2 (23rd)
Points Allowed: 93.4 (6th)
Team FG%: .436 (21st)
Opponent’s FG%: .439 (12th)
Rebounds per game: 43.9 (7th)
Opponents rebounds per game: 40.3 (6th)
Turnovers per game: 15.5 (17th)
Opponents turnovers per game: 15.5 (11th)

Individual Statistical Leaders

Scoring (ppg): Loul Deng (17.8)
Rebounds per game:  Carlos Boozer (9.8)
Minutes per game: Loul Deng (40.4)
Assists per game: Kirk Hinrich (5.7)
Steals per game: Joakim Noah (1.3)
Blocked Shots per game: Joakim Noah (2.1)

Worst Player of the Month:  Kirk Hinrich




Kirk Hinrich is a player that should not be hated, but rather pitied—kind of like a horse that has broke its leg and needs to be taken behind the barn and “put out of his misery.”  Here is a player who has had a reputation of being a tough scrappy player, but whose skills and abilities have eroded as a result of past injuries and the ravages of father time.   Expected to be just the primary backup for Bulls star Derrick Rose, he was thrust in at the starting point guard spot as a result of Rose’s injury.  His performance thus far has been rather lackluster to say the least averaging just 6.2 points per game and shooting a woeful .321 from the field.  His game seems to have completely left him as his shooting stroke is all but gone and due to his poor physical condition, he cannot even be counted on stay on the court for more than 25 minutes.  What’s worse is that Hinrich is the best the Bulls have at this point his situation to be more pitiful as they have no choice but to play him.
First Player of the Month: Joakim Noah



Can this be the season where Joakim Noah will finally takes the leap of being a mere role player to becoming the franchise player that Bulls fans have been hoping for?  He has started the season posting a career high in points per game at almost 14 per game and currently leads the team in rebounds, steals and blocked shots per game.  Already praised by fans, the coaching staff and his peers for his tough physical defense and hustle Noah has also amped up his production on the offensive end taking more shot attempts and scoring in double figures in all but four games this month.  It is also important to point out that the Bulls have been winning when Noah has scored 15 or more points in a game making him a more dominant factor in the team’s offensive schemes.  If he maintains his aggressiveness on the Offensive end, Noah can fill the huge void left by Derrick Rose’s absence and the Bulls will thus thrive as a result.


Analysis:

As a team who is missing their star play and whose roster its front office has gutted due to financial reasons, the Chicago Bulls have played up to expectations—not great, but good enough to stay competitive in the Eastern Conference.  The Bulls started the season quite admirably winning three of their first four games, and then split their next four games, but finished November on a sour note losing four of their last six games.  Considering that Chicago started with a very light schedule facing only two teams that were over .500 at the time in November—the Oklahoma City Thunder (11/8/2012) and the Boston Celtics (11/12/2012)—Bulls fans should neither be pleased or disappointed.  Everyone knew that this would be a long tough season and no one had any preconceptions that the Bulls would repeat last season’s performance where they sported the league’s best record.  What was completely unexpected, however, was that the Central Division would be so poor that the Bulls would still have a chance to take first place even with a meager .500 record.

Chicago fans along with the rest of the league had already conceded the Central Division to their cross state rival, the Indiana Pacers, as they were expected to dominate the East being second only to the NBA Champion Miami Heat; however, that did not happen.  The Pacers entered the season with a far deeper and athletic team than they had when they took the Heat to six games in the Eastern Conference Semis last season; however, they have been anything but dominant.  The much touted additional firepower that Indy acquired in the offseason has been shooting blanks as the Pacers’ offense ranks at the bottom of the league.  Indiana, thus far, has been hovering under the .500 mark and certainly does not look like a team that would be nearly a worthy enough rival for the Miami Heat.  Thanks to this unforeseen collapse, Bulls fans now have a small ray of hope of their team retaking the Central Division crown as their strongest competitor has essentially become a complete bust.

Although Chicago is not that much to write home about either as the Bulls have not the most pleasant team to watch; however, they are still far better off than they could have ever though thanks to the poor start of the Pacers.  As it currently stands, it is a three way race for first place for the Central Division title as the Bulls hold a half game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks with the Pacers right behind at 1 and a half games.  Neither team has really shown that they have what it takes to be a worthy contender for the Eastern Conference crown, but considering the fact that the Bulls were not even in the discussion at the start of the season, one must consider what they have accomplished as impressive in itself.  Chicago was expected to be fighting for its playoff survival for most of the season—even team owner Jerry Reinsdorf, did not have very high expectation for the team in the upcoming season.  Nonetheless, there is Chicago, standing up on top their where more analysts, observers, and even their own fans did not even give a chance to reach over .500, let alone be first place in their division.

Credit the Bulls unwavering devotion to defense in keeping Chicago at par with its Eastern Conference rivals.  In their seven wins for November, the Bulls only allowed the opponents to score just 88.0 points per game while holding them to just .399 shooting from the field.  In five of those games, Chicago held its foes to under 90 with their best defensive performance being against the Dallas Mavericks (11/28/2012) where the Bulls held the Mavs to just 78 points and under .350 shooting.  Unfortunately, November also showed the Bulls’ inability to come through with a win when their opponents scored over 90 points as there were only 2-7 in those games.  Nonetheless, despite their inability to win in high scoring games, Chicago fans can still hold their heads up high to the fact that their home team  was only blown out once by the Clippers (11/17/2012) while the rest were rather close, with the Bulls just losing by an average margin of 5.3 points.   

The Bulls have continued to impress as they have started the month of December winning seven of ten taking down notable Eastern Conference teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers (12/1/2012, 12/12/2012), the current first place holding New York Knicks (12/8/2012), the Brooklyn Nets (12/15/2012), and the Boston Celtics (12/18/2012).   Unfortunately, fans must still remain cautiously optimistic as the Bulls are still a long ways for contending for an NBA title.  Remember the reason why Chicago has been so successful is that their toughest rivals, the Indiana Pacers, have played rather poorly to start the season along with being in a rather weak division if one were to compare it with the five others in the league.  Also, despite the Bulls solid run to start the season, they still do not have the firepower to compete against the big guns in their own conference, let alone the entire league.  Their only hope is that they remain respectable enough until March to make a real push for the final stretch because that is when Derrick Rose is projected finally return from his injuries; however, until that happen, the Bulls will still remain teetering between being average and mediocre.