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Friday, December 5, 2014

SDH's 2014/2015 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 7. Chicago Bulls

Overall Win/Loss Record :  48-34,  second place Central Division

2014/2015 Projection: 52-30, second place Central Division, second place Eastern Conference

Preseason Rank

Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 93.7 (30th)
  • Points Allowed: 91.8 (1st)
  • Team FG%: .432 (30th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .430 (2nd)
  • Team FT%: .779 (7th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .348 (24th)
  • Rebounds per game: 44.1 (10th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.3 (7th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.0 (14th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.7 (17th)
Returning Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Jimmy Butler (13.1)
  • Rebounds per game:  Joakim Noah (11.3)
  • Minutes per game:  Jimmy Butler (38.7)
  • Assists per game:   Joakim Noah (5.4)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Taj Gibson (.479)
  • Free Throw Percentage:   Mike Dunleavy (.850)
  • Three Point FG Percentage:   Mike Dunleavy (.380)
  • Steals per game:  Jimmy Butler (1.9)
  • Blocked Shots per game:    Joakim Noah (1.5)
Projected Opening Day Starters Based on Past Performances and Potential Impacts:

Key Reserves Rank Based on Past Performances and Potential Impacts:

  1. Taj Gibson (F)
  2. Nikola Mirotic (F)
  3. Doug McDermott (F)
  4. Kirk Hinrich (G)
  5. Tony Snell (G/F)
It is time once again for every Chicago Bulls fans to fall into their delusions of grandeur that their team has what it takes to be a championship contender and for sports commentators and media pundits to start force feeding that fantasy to an already pathetic populace hoping that their delirium holds true.  Unfortunately, Windy City hoops fans will once again fall prey to their own distorted expectations as the fail to realize that no matter how much they over-inflate the perceptions of their home team, the reality is simply that the Bulls have never been a true contender to an NBA tile since 2011.  Three years since then the Bulls have been at best average as they have always had to scratch and claw through every game thanks to its shameful inability to but the ball into the basket, then reach the post season as a middle of the pack team only to be eliminated by the first or second rounds.  Nonetheless, despite the facts proving the contrary, Bulls fans and the Chicago media media  continue to reiterate their misplaced and misguided faith that their team is still a viable championship contender and continually give excuses to why it has yet to come to pass.  Their favorite excuse, of course, is the fact that their MVP and crowned franchise savior, Derrick Rose, has been sidelined with injuries over the past couple of seasons and with him back healthy in the lineup, their Bulls can once again rise up to the NBA's elite; however, this sch-peel has been constantly regurgitated time and time again to the point where it has become a complete joke.

Derrick Rose had his best year in 2011 when he not only earned the league's MVP posting the best numbers in his career, but also led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Championship series against the +Miami HEAT; however, since then, he has failed to recreate that magical performance and with his history of injuries, may never be able to do so again.  Last season was an absolute embarrassment for not only him, but those who had put so much stock in his return to the court as he looked absolutely terrible in the ten games than he played averaging career lows in points (15.9) and assists (4.3) while shooting a even more woeful .354 from the field before he was forced to pack it in once again for the rest of the 2014 campaign.  Now, after a rather less than stellar performance at last summer's +2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup where he was essentially selected over a slew of far more qualified players simply because of his name being a more recognized brand, Bulls fans expect him to return with the same magic that enchanted them four years ago; however, it is sad to say, but it looks as if both the magic and time has run out for both Rose and his team.  Rose would have been as good as gone if it had not been for his ridiculous contract that will pay him up to 60$ million over the next three years while both his value and abilities have deteriorated to a point where he has become less of a franchise foundation to a salary cap albatross.

And it is not just Rose, but the entire roster of players who who have also had their value so over-inflated to the point of being ludicrous by not only the organization, but also by its fans, and the media that covers them.  One of the most notorious examples of such over inflation is that of Joakim Noah; a players that has virtually no skills in the paint, no post moves, or any real ability to score, yet has been virtually put on a pedestal by not only his peers, but fans, and the media as one of the best big men in the league.  His greatest assets that give him such a high rating in the hearts and minds of people is his defense and rebounding--two things that a good NBA center should be doing already--along with his innate ability to pass in the paint; however, despite all of his accolades on his defensive intensity and effort on the board--again, two things that should be expected from him anyways--he is practically useless on the offensive end.  He does not draw double teams because his defenders already know that he can neither put the ball on the fall or create his own shot and only gets his points on the off chance that his defenders happen to miss him because they were too busy ignoring him.  Yet ask anybody in Chicago or those who follow basketball about Joakim Noah, and they would place him among the league's greatest big men which to them should certainly be considered an insult because simply mentioning Noah among them diminishes their own greatness.

 Two other player whom Bulls fans drool over, but who would not otherwise start on an NBA team let alone be major impact players are Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson and if anyone were to ask a Chicago Bulls fan, he would have them playing on the Eastern Conference All Star team.  At best, Jimmy Butler would be considered a solid rotation player coming off the bench, but last season he was the Bulls' primary scorer averaging a whopping 13 points per game and  shot a scintillating .397 from the field while playing a whopping 38.7 minutes per game.  His player efficiency rating was probably on of the worst in the league accounting for the minutes he played, the missed shots he had taken, plus the time that he has spent relatively idle from a statistical perspective.  The other mediocre member of this highly illustrious duo is Taj Gibson--a player who plays power forward but does not have the size, strength or the ability to post up or score in the paint; however, most Bulls fans would have him starting for an All Star team despite him playing mostly off the bench for a bulk of his career.  Gibson came of a career performance last season as he came off the bench to contribute a solid 13 points and seven boards per game compared to the four previous years in his career where he just averaged 8 points and 5 boards per game.

With such a sad crew of Noah, Butler, and Gibson, it is little wonder how the Bulls ranked near the bottom in the league in scoring and field goal percentage while barely beat their opponents by a mere differential of just 1.9 points--which otherwise means that Chicago was less than a field goal away from being a lottery team instead of a mediocre playoff team.  Credit the Bulls physical style of play and defensive pressure from allowing their opponents to otherwise overrun them; however, despite ranking as one of the league best defensive teams, the team's horrid offensive execution proved to be their downfall.  Even though people will continually and mind numbing-ly reiterate the tired mantra that "defense wins championships," the fact remains that if a team cannot capitalize on their defensive effort on the offensive end, then all that energy on the defensive end is essentially wasted.  The great defensive teams of the NBA were not only able to stop their opponents from scoring, but also turned their missed shots and turnover into easy baskets on the other end; however, looking at last season's numbers, Chicago was completely incapable of doing that.  In fact, with all their reputed defensive intensity, they still could not get the ball on the other side of the floor, let alone put it in the basket, and even turned the ball over more than the teams that they were defending.

And this is a team that many predicted to finish second in the Eastern Conference behind a +Cleveland Cavaliers  team who sports three superstar players in +LeBron James+Kevin Love and +Kyrie Irving?  There is no way that any team that was barely able to put up 95 points on a scoreboard last season as the Bulls be able to to hold back such an offensive juggernaut where only three players who are fully capable of putting up almost as much as the entire Chicago roster. The Bulls will probably even find themselves struggling to keep in pace with second tier Eastern Conference teams such as the +Washington Wizards+New York Knicks+Charlotte Hornets and +Brooklyn Nets; yet some of the brightest sports minds still have Chicago racing neck and neck with the Cavs upon the end of the regular season.  What's even more puzzling is that the offseason where they praised the Bulls for amnestying aging and over the hill former All Star big man +Carlos Boozer and replacing him with another aging, over the hill former All Star in Pau Gasol.  Last season was by far Gasol's worst as he came off an injury plagued 2014 campaign  to lead the +Los Angeles Lakers to its worst record in franchise history and even though it looks as if his best basketball years are behind him, fans and media alike applauded the Bulls signing the 34 year old veteran to a two year contract at 20$ million.

Unfortunately, it is not even worth trying to argue with a Chicago Bulls fan about the merits of Pau Gasol's signing or the fact that his or her team's window for a championship title has all but sealed up tight as an oil drum because the delusion that he or she clings to are just simply too strong.  Bulls fans want to believe that Derrick Rose will come back, be fully healthy, and return his 2011 MVP form; they also want to believe that Joakim Noah is one of the league's greatest big men depite his inability to score a basket in the paint; and most pathetically, they want to believe that the team that the three years that their team floundered in the post season were just aberrations and not a sign of their team's decline.  The local, national, and international media do not help the situation as it continually feeds these poor souls' delusions with their outlandish predictions despite having their forecasts prove to be as out of touch with reality as the fans that readily consume this drivel as fact only to have the hopes shattered come May.  Although it is almost a certainty that the Bulls will return to the post season, neither the regular season or the playoffs will not be a cake walk that both the team's fans as well as the media foresee because the Eastern Conference is far better than it has ever been and the Bulls are simply not as good as many have them to be.  So prepare for another not so thrilling ride of a team that have proven time and time again that they are not championship material with their fans constantly chanting "don't worry, we'll get them this time!"