The Chicago Bulls were a major disappointment a season ago. Though some experts had Chicago going as far as the Eastern Conference Finals, they finished with an incredibly disappointing 42-40 while missing the playoffs. Seeing as how the East was filled with mediocre teams such as the Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, and so on, the fact the Bulls couldn’t even manage to snag an 8-seed was seen as a major step back for one of the league’s most consistent franchises.
As a result, the Chicago front office made some big changes during the offseason. They traded Derrick Rose to the Knicks for starting center Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant, for what some saw as a rather lopsided deal. Additionally, they didn’t resign Joakim Noah or Pau Gasol. They also handed out big contracts to Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. It seemed as though Chicago was just trying to land as many big names as possible, no matter how old or how incapable they were of shooting.
It’s pretty unbelievable how much this Bulls team has changed since Tom Thibodeau and MVP Derrick Rose were the class of the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for them, the front office and Thibodeau didn’t get along, Rose’s promising career was absolutely devastated by injury, and Joakim Noah regressed from fourth place in the MVP voting to being benched a season ago. Any hope of a resurgence by either player was quickly put to rest by their inconsistent play a season ago.
The Bulls front office tried their best to get back to being a top team in the NBA. Dwyane Wade has some early signs he could be a key player to making that happen. After shooting just 7-44 from three on the season last year with the Heat, in just six games Wade is already 10-21, a scorching 47%. This is a remarkable turnaround for a guy who hasn’t shot 32% from three in his previous 13 seasons. So remarkable, in fact, that I don’t see any conceivable way he can keep it up. He shot 278 threes in 2009, and made just 88 of them. I trust the numbers from three for Wade’s first 855 games more than his last six.
None of this is a knock on Wade, mind you. He still is one heck of a player and a three-time NBA champ. His midrange game can stack up against almost anybody and he is still an elite finisher. Also, he did this against the Nets earlier this season. My point is that I don’t think he will be able to keep up this hot shooting, and the Bulls offense desperately needs the spacing. Rondo is a 28% career three point shooter, Jimmy Butler is just 33%, and their frontcourt of Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez both don’t contribute too much from the perimeter.
If the Bulls want to continue to have success with their starting five of Rondo-Wade-Butler-Gibson-Lopez, they need to keep getting this kind of shooting out of Wade, which I don’t think will happen. So, to answer the question, what the Bulls have shown so far hasn’t convinced me that they are more than an average team in the Eastern Conference.
Collegian blogger John Scriffiny can be reached online at email@example.com or on Twitter at @JScriff. Read more of his content here. Leave a comment!