Chicago ready to become genuine contenders this year.
With Derrick Rose fully fit and suiting up, the Chicago Bulls will be hopeful of a successful season this year with aspirations of an NBA championship.
Following a 45-37 regular season record last year, the Bulls slipped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference and after coming through a thrilling opening series against the Brooklyn Nets they were undone by the eventual champions from Miami.
Considering their superstar point guard was absent for the entire season as he recovered from a torn ACL, it was perhaps beyond their expectations as they continued to demonstrate grit and determination to defeat the odds.
However, Rose is now ready to return to competitive action after impressing throughout pre-season and suffering no setbacks in his recovery from knee surgery.
The 25-year-old has averaged just over 20 points in pre-season action, with his minutes and production steadily increasing throughout with signs of his explosiveness in getting to the rim and his general play looking more improved with each game.
In addition, Tom Thibodeau is widely regarded as one of the top coaches in the NBA and his defensive culture has instilled a real team ethic within the roster with the likes of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler all impressing on both ends of the court last season.
Nevertheless, the one thing that they were missing last year was offensive threat and that hasn’t perhaps been fully addressed merely with the return of Rose.
The franchise has made moves to add more shooting to the roster, with Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell and Erik Murphy all arriving, and that trio will have to contribute particularly with Rose opening up the court and potentially giving them good looks.
Much of their success will depend on health as throughout the season last year they suffered from key absentees at key moments. With Thibodeau criticised for pushing his players too hard during the regular season, it will be interesting to see whether or not he learns from his mistakes and ensures there is plenty left in the tank come the post-season.
Rose, Butler, Noah, Deng and Carlos Boozer form a formidable starting line-up, but depth may be a factor with just Taj Gibson perhaps the only consistent presence off the bench now that Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli have moved on.
Neverthless, back the Bulls to obtain a high seeding this season and with a firing Rose they can aspire to a championship, but they will need their core players healthy throughout.
Chicago Bulls: 2nd
Front court: 8.5
Back court: 9