It has been a bittersweet summer for the Chicago Bulls franchise. The Bulls flirted with the possibility of signing two of the best players in the NBA, only to end up 0-for-2. On the same day that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh committed to Miami, the Chicago Bulls gained their long-sought low-post scorer, in Carlos Boozer. Then, only a day later, LeBron James announced to the world that he would be heading to the Miami Heat – disappointing many Bulls’ fans.
The Chicago Bulls now have added key elements to their offensive attack, that they have lacked for years.
The last time the Bulls had a scoring threat in the paint came in the form of the not-so-versatile Eddy Curry. And prior to that it was Elton Brand – back in the dark days right after winning the 6th Championship.
Carlos Boozer is a former All-Star and complements Joakim Noah’s quickness and finesse style with a banger’s mentality, brute power, and toughness on the offensive end.
Last season, the Chicago Bulls were ranked #1 in total rebounds (44.5 per game) and were 9th in rebounding differential (+1.8). Throwing Carlos Boozer into the mix will only help in this area. And, as we saw in the NBA Finals nearly a month ago, rebounding is a decisive factor in who has the edge on a game-to-game basis.
Another element the Bulls have added is three-point shooting. Though their bid for Orlando’s J.J Redick failed, Chicago still managed to add a guy off the bench, in Kyle Korver. This is a wing player that can help spread the floor, and allow more room for Derrick Rose to create off the dribble. Korver broke the record set in 1994-95 by former Bull, Steve Kerr, by averaging 53.6% in three-point percentage. As a team last year, Chicago ranked 28th (33%) in three-point percentage. Though Kirk Hinrich was a decent streaky shooter, no one can deny that he went through serious dry spells from the field. Korver is always a threat from beyond the arc and defenses all over the league know it. They will respect him by always closing out on him, thereby opening up other Bulls’ scorers.
There is another area that has seperated the Chicago Bulls from the elite teams in the NBA over the past several seasons, and that is the pick-and-roll game.
The Bulls simply haven’t had a dominant inside scorer to work off screens. This is the easiest way to score points in the NBA when you have the means to effectively utilize this attack. And now the Bulls do.
We saw Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams do this for years in Utah, and coach Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau utilize this in Boston with Kevin Garnett and the Celtics’ perimeter play-makers. Derrick Rose is the most athletic starting point guard in the NBA, so expect he and Boozer to tear up plenty of opposing defenses. Having Kyle Korver can only help in this aspect – with him spreading the floor.
Look for the Bulls to be a different team next year. They have a new coach and new mind-set. Chicago managed to keep it’s identity as a team, keeping its core of Rose, Noah, Deng, and Gibson intact. The loss of Hinrich is less of a burden now that the Bulls have added Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver. And they have also added an athletic scorer and solid perimeter defender, in Ronnie Brewer. Chicago is already as deep as any team in the Eastern Conference. And they still have even more money to spend, which they can use to try to get even better.
The 2010-11 Bulls could quietly take early favorites (Boston, Orlando, and Miami) by surprise, upon playoff time.