“150 Percent”: 2014-15 Chicago Bulls Season Preview

With a new Big 3, the Bulls are poised to capture their 7th NBA title. (Getty Images)
With a new Big 3, the Bulls are poised to capture their 7th NBA title. (Getty Images)

Last season: 48-34, 2nd Central Division (4th Eastern Conference), Lost 4-1 to WAS in Quarterfinals

Notable Acquisitions: F/C Pau Gasol (free agent, LAL), F Nikola Mirotic (2011 Draft Pick), F Doug McDermott (Creighton, 11th overall; acquired via trade w/ DEN), G Aaron Brooks (free agent, DEN), G E’Twaun Moore (free agent, ORL)

Draft Picks: F Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico, 49th overall)

Notable Losses: F Carlos Boozer (LAL), G DJ Augustin (DET), G Jimmer Fredette (NOP)

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Burning Question: Do the Bulls have enough shot creators to take the enormous pressure off of Derrick Rose?

Creating offense will likely be by committee for the Bulls, whose post game will likely take priority over perimeter play. Kirk Hinrich, Aaron Brooks and Joakim Noah all have the ability to make plays but it’ll likely come from floor spacing and a steady diet of dribble penetration from Rose.

Storyline:

This is the year for the Chicago Bulls to finally smash down the door and win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Greatness seems to be on the horizon for Chicago, who has assembled an impressive collection of players to go along with the return (again) of superstar guard Derrick Rose.

The “Rose Effect” cannot be understated for the Bulls. If he’s there, Chicago is an instant championship contender. When he’s injured or not playing at a high level, they’re barely a playoff team.

Coach Tom Thibodeau has kept the Bulls competitive, the past two years, by re-inventing the team around All-Star Joakim Noah. Noah, a first-team All-NBA selection (4th in MVP voting) a year ago, turned into one of the most well rounded players in the Association. He tallied 4 triple-doubles last year and had the highest assist average (5.4) amongst centers since Vlade Divac ten seasons ago.

The two All-Stars, Rose and Noah, don’t tell the whole story for the Bulls this year. Oh no, there is talent in every single spot down the roster.

“Iron Man” Jimmy Butler (2nd Team All-Defense) returns as the starting shooting guard after an up and down 2014. With Rose back, Butler’s improving offensive game will get a huge boost. His intangibles make him the perfect choice as Chicago’s X-Factor.

NBA: Preseason-Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls

New addition Pau Gasol (2-time NBA Champion) joins Noah, Taj Gibson (2014 Sixth Man of the Year runner-up), and rookie Nikola Mirotic (2011 first round pick) to form one of the most versatile front courts in the league.

Gasol looked very impressive with Spain in the World Cup and will be an immediate upgrade at the position over Carlos Boozer. Whether he or Gibson finishes games in the fourth quarter will be an issue all year long but it’s an excellent “problem” for Thibs and his staff to sort out.

After years of searching for the right pieces, Chicago may have found the perfect balance of players to win it all. With plenty of shooters to go along with Rose, including AP Player of the Year Doug McDermott, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Mirotic, the offense will run a lot smoother in 2015.

And if the defense is as well-oiled a machine as in year’s past, Chicago just might hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in late June. Derrick Rose’s health is always key but you have to wonder if this is the year everything comes together.

The window is as wide as its ever been for Chicago and if all goes right, the Bulls will add a banner to the rafters of the United Center for the first time since 1998.

Projected Starting 5:

“More Than Enough to Win”:

It’s a running joke between Bulls fans and the media in Chicago. Whenever a reporter asks Coach Thibodeau about an injured player, Thibs always responds by saying, “We have more than enough to win.”

This year, Chicago can confidently state that since they easily feature one of the deepest benches in the league. The pieces seem to all fit well together and will undoubtedly be a huge upgrade over the stagnant offense from last season.

Thibs has plenty of shooting, speed and size in the second unit. If he can get the rookies (McDermott & Mirotic) energized to play defense, the Bulls are a lot more scarier.

The Decision:

We are picking the Chicago Bulls to win the NBA Championship in 2014-15. With a healthy Derrick Rose, a deep, balanced roster and the league’s stingiest defensive unit, the Bulls have an incredible chance to capture their 7th title in franchise history.

Staying healthy and getting past LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are the two biggest obstacles but Chicago is well equipped to do so. Derrick Rose’s re-emergence as an elite talent along with Coach Thibs’s defensive schemes should finally take the team over the top.

Best Case: A seventh NBA Championship

Worst Case: Injuries strike in full force again, leading to an early round exit in the playoffs

Season Prediction:

1st, Central Division (1st Eastern Conference), Will Win NBA Championship

“When people in Chicago say, ‘Chicago Bulls,’ I want (them) to be proud of that. Even if there’s four guys hurt, no matter who’s out, we’re going to give 150 percent, win or lose. I know people in this city are proud of that”- Joakim Noah

#DOFGAME #DOG

-Jabari J.

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