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Monday, July 15, 2013

SDH Presents the 2013 End of Season NBA's Worst to First: 6. Chicago Bulls

Overall Win/Loss Record (At Season’s End
) :  45-37 (second place, Central Division)  





14
At Season’s End


6
Team Statistics and League Rank (At Season’s End)
  • Points Scored: 93.2 (29th)
  • Points Allowed: 92.9 (3rd)
  • Team FG%: .437 (25th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .443 (9th)
  • Team FT%: .773 (9th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .353 (21st)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.2(8th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.1 (9th)
  • Turnovers per game: 13.7 (10th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.1(23rd)


Individual Statistical Leaders (At Season’s End)
  • Scoring (ppg): Loul Deng (16.5)
  • Rebounds per game: Joakim Noah (11.1)
  • Minutes per game: Loul Deng (38.7)
  • Assists per game: Kirk Hinrich (5.2)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Taj Gibson (.485)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Rip Hamilton (.860)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Nate Robinson (.405)
  • Steals per game: Joakim Noah (1.2)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Joakim Noah (2.1)


Taking a Look Back at the Season that Once Was . . .


SDH Worst to First Recap
Time Period
Wins/Losses
Rank
Change (+/-)
7-7
15
-1
By December 31st
8-5
10
+5
By February 28th
18-13
11
-1
At Season’s End
12-12
6
+5
SDH Player of the Year:
Nate Robinson




Consider Nate Robinson as one of the feel good comeback stories of the NBA. He went from being labelled as a knucklehead and a lost cause to re-emerging to becoming one of the bright spots on this struggling Chicago Bulls team.  Although Robinson's arrival to the Windy City was welcomed with plenty of raised eyebrows and a heavy helping of skepticism, he still managed to turn it all around providing much needed leadership for a Chicago team in desperate need of it.  His brightest moment by far was in the playoff where he led the Bulls to a surprising first round upset over the Brooklyn Nets in this year's playoffs making him the Windy city's favorite son for now.  With his contract expiring at season's end, look for many team to take a look at the quick and athletic 5'9" dynamo as he will certainly be a player to watch out for in the free agent market.    
Analysis:

They entered the regular season not only just without their star player, but a drastically altered roster which had many wondering whether or not the team would even finish with a .500 record, let alone qualify for the playoffs; however Chicago Bulls still managed to silence any of their doubters and not only make the playoffs, but also managed to pull off the impossible by eliminating a far more deeper and talented Brooklyn Nets team.  After losing rather badly in game one, many though that it would be a rather short and forgettable series, but Chicago bounced back winning three straight games to take a three games to one lead over the Nets and the opportunity to eliminate the far stronger Brooklyn squad in game five.   Despite winning game five, the Nets could not stretch the series to the seventh and deciding games as they would fall in game six which resulted in the Bulls to advance in the second round to face the top seeded Miami Heat who Chicago also caught off guard taking the first game in the best of seven series. Unfortunately for the Bulls that would be the only game that they would win as Miami made short work of them winning the next four games and quickly eliminated Chicago as they marched on to their second straight NBA title.  As for the Bulls, they would end their season with their heads head up high that they were capable of accomplish so much despite having so little and now spend their off season for the star player, Derrick Rose, to be healthy enough to bring the team back to the upper echelons on the Eastern Conference; however, one has to ask himself whether Derrick Rose will be enough to bring this team back to notoriety and championship contention.

With Rose, the Bulls had two straight seasons where they finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference only to fall short in the playoffs first losing to the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals and then shockingly eliminated in the first round by a far less talented Philadelphia 76ers team. They then entered the 2013 regular season with the grim reality that their leader and heart and soul of the franchise would not be playing alongside them and despite being able to pull off a somewhat respectable finish, it was still rather touch and go for the Windy City's finest.  For starters, the Bulls were absolutely horrid on the offensive end as they were the second worst team in the league in terms of scoring and in the bottom five when it game to shooting from the field. And despite being arguably one of the league's best defensive teams by far, they were still unable to convert that defensive effort into easy offensive opportunities as they were one of the worst teams in the league in forcing turnovers and had only beaten their opponents by a mere +0.3 margin.  In other words, if they had been a missed turnover or a last second miss, the Chicago Bulls probably would not have made the playoffs and probably would have finished with the league's worst record had it not been for a lucky bounce or two on the rim.

Where most of the league's top teams relied on defense more as a catalyst to spark their offense by getting easy baskets through turnovers, Chicago's defense more resembled a crutch that propped the team up long enough to come through for the win.  Watching the Bulls on offense was simply painful as every possession become a chore and Chicago virtually had to pull out their own teeth to come away with a basket each time they came on their side of the court.  And despite ranking among the top ten rebounding teams in the league, that did not make much of a difference as they allowed their opponents to crash the boards at relatively the same rate only separated by a rather slim margin +2.1 rebounds per game. What is even more sad about this slim rebounding differential was that it had nothing to do with the Bulls being able to grab more rebounds than their opponents, but the fact that their opponents had made more baskets at a better rate than them thus resulting in them not having to rebound as much.  Putting together all the factors surrounding the team during the regular season, it is safe to say that the Chicago Bulls truly were not that great of a team in the 2013 season, but a bad team that got very lucky.

In addition to the loving intervention of Lady Luck that kept them within striking distance of the post season, the Bulls were also fortunate enough to be playing in a rather weak Central Division as they spent the season behind an equally poor executing offensive team in the Indiana Pacers.  With the news of Derrick Rose's absence become known, many had handed Indiana the Central Division wrapped up with a bow on it as the Pacers came into the 2013 season with a far more improved roster than last season's team; however,  upon arriving Indy started the season dead cold from the field and spent much of the first half scratching their way to reach .500.  The Pacers did manage to get it together to put a strong finish late in the regular season to win the Central Division, but it was far from impressive they barely won it over Chicago by a mere four game margin and considering that Indy was projected to be a dominant force in the league, their finish was far from spectacular.  The Bulls did not have that much of threat from the team right under them as the Milwaukee Bucks proved to be even more of a mediocre team finishing the season winning just 38 games to only be swept in the first round by the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat.  Simply being in that rather weak division gave the Bulls enough confidence to fight on because unlike what many predicted, despite all the challenges they faced, they still had a fighting chance to come out with the Division lead.

Now with the 2013 NBA season finally at a close, the Chicago Bulls can finally breathe a sigh of relief, allow themselves to rest up for the next season, and patiently await the arrival of the their absent franchise player, Derrick Rose; however, one has to wonder whether the return of Rose will bring the Bulls back to the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference.  Rose will not be returning to the same team that went 50-16 last season as much of the roster had been hollowed out due to financial reasons leading one to think that perhaps the Bulls no longer have what it takes to be a contender for the NBA crown.  In fact, one can go as far to say that Chicago's time has passed as their window of opportunity has firmly closed thanks to the emergence of teams such as the Indiana Pacers, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks being in their way. Facing far more potent obstacles than they have ever faced and with an older team looking even more worn down than before, the future no longer looks a brought for the Chicago Bulls who looked to finally come up from under the shadows of history to create their own championship legacy.