Welcome back to another day of the Sport Script’s NBA 2013-14 preview. We’re getting so close to the end here, and from now on will be down to just one team a day, as we get close to the true contenders in the NBA. Today we have a team that has a superstar returning, but not after he sat out a full year making sure that he was completely healthy, and sparked a firestorm of debate of whether he was committed enough to his team. Let’s take a look at the Chicago Bulls.
Key Additions: Mike Dunleavy (Signed via Bucks) Tony Snell (Draft)
Key Departures: Nate Robinson (Nuggets) Marco Belinelli (Spurs) Richard Hamilton (Free Agent)
Projected Starters: PG Derrick Rose, SG Jimmy Butler, SF Luol Deng, PF Carlos Boozer, C Joakim Noah
The Bulls didn’t do much in the offseason, but in reality, they didn’t need to do a lot, because the biggest move came from within the organization. Derrick Rose is finally back, and after a year and a half of rehabbing his previously torn ACL, is finally ready to return to return to the court, and pick up where he left off: Going for that NBA championship. They added a very nice shooter in Mike Dunleavy, and I always like the addition of good shooters to place around your superstar, that’s a key to success in the NBA. Tony Snell has great potential to be a Kawhi Leonard/Jimmy Butler type a player, and was an absolute steal where he was drafted. They lost Nate Robinson, but he was only a crappy Rode replacement last year, and will not be missed in any way. Marco Belinelli is a tough loss with his shooting, but hopefully his production can be replaced by Dunleavy. Rip Hamilton left in the offseason, but he’s also another pretty disappointing player, and his play will easily be replaced by young Jimmy Butler.
The starters are as solid as ever, and a big jump from Jimmy Butler this year, and many including myself expect something big to happen with him, and this team could be put over the top, and truly compete with the class of the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat. Derrick Rose is back, he’s the Bulls offense, and that’s about all you need to know. The Bulls offense was 29th in the NBA last year, Rose’s absence was a huge hole they just couldn’t fill. Jimmy Butler is primed to break out as the next Kawhi Leonard super player, capable of doing a bit of everything really well, if he has the confidence. Luol Deng is still a pretty good player, and despite being shopped a lot last year, the Bulls stayed patient with things, and will be rewarded with a very complete roster now. Carlos Boozer yells a lot on the court, and sometimes it makes up for his pouros defense, but he’s always a 16-9 kind of player on offense, and should have another solid year. Joakim Noah is one of the best defensive players in the NBA, and anchors this team defensively. Last year he had to be the best player on the court, and now with Rose back, a lot of that pressure will be taken off him, and he can go back to just being a great defender, and getting easy baskets here and there.
I asked our Matt Bell to give me some thoughts about the New York Knicks and what he thought they would do in the 2013-14 season.
Chicago Bulls – Derek Rose is back or at least he should be if he decides to suit up this year after missing all of last season. The Bulls have one of the most talented starting 5’s in the league, but I really think the bench could be a problem outside of Taj Gibson. The Bulls should win a ton of games this year, and do some damage in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see what they do with Deng whose contract is expiring and Boozer who is highly overpaid for his productions.
The Bulls are once again good, and while they won’t be exciting save for Rose, they will win a lot of games. If they could get a game changing player down low on offense, think Love, Aldridge or Horford, they could be the best team in the league. But right now, Rose will have to be the team’s offence once again, and I don’t think they can win a title playing like that. But another 50+ win season, and top four playoff seeding at least gives them a chance. They know they can hang with the Heat.
Final Prediction: 54-28, 4th Eastern Conference