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2014-2015 NBA Season Analysis- Chicago Bulls
They’ve got plenty of reasons to be really excited in the Windy City: the acquisition of the 4-time All-Star Pau Gasol, the return of the hopefully healthy Derrick Rose, the arrival of a couple of quite interesting rookies in Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic… in addition to a team that was already able to get home-court advantage in the last Playoffs (although it didn’t end up really well).
Obviously, D-Rose staying healthy is key to their success because, although people tend to forget, he became the youngest player to win an MVP back in the 2010-11 NBA season.
Coach: Tom Thibodeau
PG: Aaron Brooks; Derrick Rose; Ben Hansbrough; Kirk Hinrich
SG: Jimmy Butler; Kim English; E’Twaun Moore
SF: Mike Dunleavy; Doug McDermott (Rookie); Tony Snell
PF: Taj Gibson; Nikola Mirotic (Rookie); Cameron Bairstow (Rookie)
C: Joakim Noah; Pau Gasol; Nazr Mohammed; Solomon Jones
To me, there are two keys to their success offensively: both ball movement and players’ movement off the ball.
They’ve got a roster full of high basketball IQ players that can move the ball well and find the open man. They should try to play (easier said than done) the way the Spurs do.
Their aim must be to play inside-out type of basketball, since they’ve got the best passing big men in the entire Association. Here’s where ball and player movement gets vital. Cuts and back-doors to the basket are gonna open up plenty of opportunities, because both Noah and Gasol can make these kinds of passes that would lead to easy baskets by guys like Rose, Butler or Dunleavy, who can certainly finish at the rim. Obviously, the opposing team will start to take these plays into account and make them tougher, but they’re still equally important because they will move the defense and allow the big men to find the open man in the perimeter, and here’s where ball movement, the extra pass and, therefore, an excellent use of the corners (like the Spurs do) get essential, and even more so with all the capable shooters the Bulls have in their roster: Dunleavy, Hinrich, Aaron Brooks, the rookies McDermott and Mirotic, and even the much-improved Jimmy Butler. This ability to spread the floor and knock down shots from beyond the 3-point line will also give room for the big men to play 1-on-1 on the low post (something they’re certainly capable of) and for D-Rose to penetrate.
Let’s, of course, not forget the importance of a weapon like pick & roll between Rose and the big men, where they can continue to the rim and either finish or find the open man (corners or big-to-big passing). They can also stop and pop because we all know Gasol can do that and score and both Noah and Taj have certainly improved on it. The success of this play and the opposing team’s concern about it will certainly make Rose’s penetrations easier and everyone knows what he is capable of.
Finally, I find it important that the ball be sometimes put in Rose’s hands quickly after defensive rebound, so that he can score some easy points in transition that will get him going when he’s struggling and until he feels totally comfortable with his jump shooting again.
Let’s now talk about the defensive end of the floor. With Thibodeau on the bench, we all know this part of the game is gonna be emphasized, and I agree with him, considering it the key to being successful and ultimately winning championships.
This is all about team defense, about staying active, helping the teammates out when necessary and so on, but let’s analyze the Bulls’ defence in detail.
Well, Joakim Noah is their key defensive player and anchor. We all know he’s a great defender and loves to get the crowd going with his intensity. His ability to defend any big man will allow Pau not to defend the primary threat from the 4-5 spot and play a more important role in rebounding. He’ll also be able to help his teammates out on guards’ penetrations and increase his shot blocking stats.
When the opposing team’s got players who can spread the floor from the PF position, Taj and even the rookie Mirotic can play a major role because of his greater mobility.
In the perimeter, their greatest asset is Jeremy Butler, who can defend guards and even small forwards successfully, but a healthy Rose is also a great defender due to his athleticism and commitment. This will allow Dunleavy to focus on defending shooters and guys like Hinrich or Brooks to play a minor role on 1-on-1 defence. However, their role defensively, as well as Pau’s, will be to help teammates out, rotate over and, ultimately, contribute to team defense.
Finally, another key to their success, as well as anyone’s, is perimeter guys helping on rebounding, something is sometimes forgotten and I consider vital due to the importance of dominating the glass.
Likely Starting Line-up
Rose - Butler – Dunleavy – Gasol - Noah
If Derrick Rose can stay healthy throughout the whole season and get close to the level he showed before all the injuries he’s been through in the past seasons, I’ve got no doubt the Bulls will become a great, tough-to-beat team, and they’ll get home court advantage at least until the Eastern Finals with #2 spot right behind the Cavs.
This is what the Bulls' fans have been waiting for the last couple of seasons: