Chicago Bulls: Let's Hope for .500!

10:30 AM | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

"I quit watching the NBA when Jordan retired."

A common statement from a casual sports fan. After they say the previous statement, they'll tell you how the NBA is just a one-on-one, me-first game that they don't have time for. Nevermind the fact that the league (somewhat) became that way via Jordan and the triangle offense, but that's a whole different story.

Our NBA coverage here at the now lame duck Saloon has been sketchy at best. "NBA Analysts" have bellied up to the bar, telling us how they'd be our new NBA guy, how they'd convert at least half of our readership (12 / 2 = 6) to basketball fans, and everyone would get free handjobs. Obviously none of that came to fruition. But I, The Hundley, vow to you two people reading this right now that I'll cover the Chicago Bulls all the way until the impending demise of TMS. I am pumped and ready to go. I've never given a handjob, but I'll try anything once. Chaim Witz has promised me a courtside Bulls game this season followed up with drinks, steaks, and Twister. Buckle up, bitches.

If you remember last year, people were tripping over themselves in rushing to predict the Bulls for post season glory. It didn't matter that they never really made any off season moves to try and do something with an already meek and weak frontcourt. It didn't matter that there was an ominous hangover in the air regarding Ben Gordon and Luol Deng's selfishness in turning down huge contract offers. It didn't matter that there was a big karate chop to the Bull's fan's throats when we didn't seriously pursue Kobe. No, we were on the rise, coming off a season of dramatic overachieving, scrapping and clawing our way to victories, always playing harder and with more intensity on defense than the opponents. Then people got lazy, suddenly couldn't shoot, and Coach Skiles lost control of the team. Season over. A small ray of light came when we cashed in our 2% odds of landing the first pick, and pick Derrick Rose...yet another guard. The Bulls fired Skiles on Christmas Eve, and wallowed with an interim (Boylan) during a painful 2nd half. After failing to land ex-Suns coach, Mike D'Antoni and then having Doug Collins back out, we went with Vinnie Del Negro. A guy who has no coaching experience and had a penchant for wearing tight shorts during his NBA tenure with the Spurs. Ladies and Gentleman, your...

2008-2009 Chicago Bulls

The Starters (Subject to change)

G: Derrick Rose - Lot's of promise here, and one of the few reasons to be excited about the Bulls this year. Historically, guards, especially point guards, don't have a huge impact right away. But there's hope with Rose, he's not Sebastian Telfair, fresh out of high school. Rose lead his Memphis team to the NCAA finals last year, and that has to count for something. Not that the preseason is an accurate barometer, but Rose certainly turned some heads. Expect the typical rookie adjustment, but with him being thrown into the fire of the new (hopefully) run-and-gun Bulls, expect some big plays, too.

G: Kirk Hinrich - A few years ago, Captain Kirk was on the receiving end of a fat new contract, and it seemed to be money well spent. Okay, so where did he go? A once lock-down defender looked lost at times on D last year, and his ever-streaky jumpshot erred towards the "bad" end of the spectrum. With a team with so many guards, someone is going to be the odd man out, though with said fat contract, the fan favorite Hinrich appears to be safe.

G: Luol Deng - Is the guy a fraud, or is he really a star in the making? Deng is easily the most frustrating of the Bulls. He never looks comfortable with the ball, he can't create his own shot, and he's often fighting nagging injuries. Then lo and behold, you look on the stat sheet and he's given you 18 and 8 with a few dimes and some steals. I do think Deng could be a big player, but it'd have to be alongside a bona fide scorer. In short, he'd have to be a Pippen.

F: Drew Gooden - Gooden is one of the few effective low post guys on the Bulls roster, and one of the few capable of getting you consistent double doubles. Problem is on this team, he's often out of place, playing center or having to guard the opposing team's center. It'd be nice to see some back-to-the-basket scoring, which he's said he has the skills for, yet has been forced to play different roles (like just passing to LeBron and grabbing a few boards like he did during his Cleveland tenure). Well, Drew, now you have the chance.

C: Aaron Gray - Wow, really? The same Aaron Gray that you spent a Second Round pick on that had everybody groaning about? Gray has lost 25-30 pounds this offseason, prepping himself to play in the new run-and-gun Bulls offense. You can almost see (new) Bull's coach, Vinny Del Negro reenacting a scene from Meet The Parents to Gary - "Look Aaron, nobody's expecting a lot out of you. Do you think when we miss some long range jumpers that you could maybe pull down a few boards?"

The Reserves

G: Thabo Sefalosha - Simply put, if the Bulls want to reach .500 this year, this guy HAS to step up. He has all the tools of the classic big guard, but has yet to break out. For some reason, it seemed that Skiles hated him, so hopefully he sees some meaningful minutes. With Sefalosha on the court guarding the opponents top scorer, it could free up some energy for Hinrich to score. In theory.

G: Ben Gordon - Ugh. Mr. Malcontent can certainly shoot it, but it stops there. On his best day, he's an average defender and can do Yeoman's work handling the ball. During the offseason, he said he was done with the Bulls, yet no one else really wanted him, so the Bulls (inexplicably) signed him to a one year deal. Now he's pissed that he's back, and he's mysteriously hurt and sick all the time. Note to John Paxon: If you can get fifty cents on the dollar for him, please do.

F: Joakim Noah - I'm not sure how he was a Top 10 pick in the draft, but Noah is growing on me. When he finally got some consistent minutes during the 2nd half of last year's season, he put up some solid numbers - for a backup. He's great on the defensive end, he can rebound very well, but his offensive game is weak. The optimist would say that his shot can only get better.

F: Tyrus Thomas - Not sure how this guy was a Top 3 pick. All the athleticism in the world, and all the will to pick up 2 or 3 fouls in the first five minutes of a game. It's great watching all of his highlight reel alley-oops...you know, while he's actually in the game. His first few years with the Bulls have been disappointing. He skipped workouts, sulked, couldn't shoot, was immature. Supposedly, he's worked on his attitude and his game. So...an NBA rebirth at 22 years of age? Um...

F: Andres Nocioni - Classic hustle guy who can give you some big minutes off the bench. Nocioni seems like the guy you'd love to have on your team, or love to punch in the face if he's your opponent. Noc is a fan favorite, and one of the few guys who really seems to always play hard. If he stays healthy, he's a huge asset to have coming off of the bench.

G: Larry Hughes - Just had a shoulder injury that will keep him out of the action for the first 2 or 3 weeks. Another big guard who can play D, but Christ, how may guards can you have on a team? And how much can you pay them? I haven't checked the stats, but the Bulls have to have the highest team salary for non-starting guards. I challenge you to prove me wrong.

F/C: Mike Ruffin - Bulky, long arms, solid defender, horrible offense. A black Will Perdue.

F: Cedric Simmons - Uh, he went to NC State?

F: Demetris Nichols - With that name, I would have said "hockey"

Season Prediction: 40-42. You never know, that could get you an eight seed in the Eastern Division!

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