Who Should Start for Chicago Bulls at Small Forward?

The Chicago Bulls have an interesting problem to deal with heading into the season. As opposed to the situation in years prior, the Bulls actually have plenty of legitimate depth that could start for multiple other teams.

The additions of Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and prized rookie Doug McDermott could make an impact on the starting lineup, and Taj Gibson’s role could potentially change as well.

The biggest difference from last season to this upcoming year, however, is who starts at the small forward position.

Here’s Kelly Scaletta for Bleacher Report:

[Jimmy] Butler will get the nod at shooting guard and was named to the All-Defensive second team. The Bulls are hoping his offense bounces back this year after his field-goal percentage dropped below 40 percent last year, but he’ll log minutes regardless because he’s one of the best wing stoppers in the league.

Mike Dunleavy Jr. stepped into Deng’s spot after he was traded on Jan. 7. There’s a good chance he moves back to the bench at some point in the season, if not to begin it.

That means McDermott starting alongside Butler is a viable option. He’s not projected to be an elite defender, but he doesn’t need to be. In fact, he can survive as a below average one.

As a rookie, he will have a learning curve, but in this case that’s actually the reason it makes more sense to start him. And that’s also one of the keys to getting sufficient minutes to all the rotation players, counterintuitive as it may seem.

Butler can play and cover either the 2 or 3, which makes him a good fit with just about anyone on the wing. While the Bulls lack some ball-handling and distributing ability with Butler in there, he’ll defend his tail off and protect Derrick Rose at point.

Really, it’s a question of who would mesh better with the rest of the starters.

Is it Mike Dunleavy, a dangerous spot-up shooter and underrated rebounder and defender? Or is it McDermott, a player who should be more capable of creating his own shots and scoring at a higher rate?

It would seem, at least initially, that Dunleavy should be considered the heavy favorite to start opening day. He’s the veteran who understands head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s defensive schemes, and his proven track record of being a great perimeter shooter is something the Bulls should want in the starting lineup.

The flip side of that argument, though, is that Dunleavy was much better last season coming off the bench than he was with the starters. In 21 games off the bench, Dunleavy connected on 42.3 percent of his threes compared to just 36.8 percent in 61 games as a starter. That makes sense, as it’s almost always easier to score against second-unit defenses as opposed to the first string.

That may be a bit of a small sample size, though, and Rose returning to the starting lineup should impact things quite a bit.

It’s still something to be considered, though, especially if McDermott is effective in training camp and preseason. 

Thibodeau hasn’t relied heavily on rookies in general over the years, although he’s never had a rookie as highly regarded as McDermott. The full college career and proven track record probably mean McDermott is a little more capable to contribute offensively as a rookie than someone like Tony Snell was last year.

Speaking of Snell, he’s a dark horse to contend for some minutes as well. After a strong Summer League showing, his athleticism could be a luxury if his shooting range is extended and consistent. Remember, given Butler’s offensive struggles last year, the Bulls will need someone who can at least be a threat on the wing.

There’s also the chance that Thibodeau reaches for his security blanket and tosses Kirk Hinrich some minutes at the 2 next to Rose in order to lessen his responsibilities. Again, Butler can easily play the 3, so Thibodeau has options. 

Here’s Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

The strategic wheels are already in motion for Thibodeau, who singled out Chicago’s decision to re-sign Kirk Hinrich as key in allowing Rose to spend some extra time off of the ball. Thibodeau seemed ready to welcome back a player who was still capable of displaying elite athleticism but who also has added a richer comprehension of the action.

Ultimately, it would be a surprise if Dunleavy wasn’t tabbed as the starter. He helped keep the Bulls afloat after the Luol Deng trade last year, and he’s a smart veteran player who will be able to find his role rather quickly, something that might not happen with McDermott right off the bat.

Here’s what Dunleavy told Sam Smith at Bulls.com about last season:

‘Ultimately I came here for the core beliefs and culture and the way this organization went,’ said Dunleavy. ‘They could have guys come and go and be injured and those things stayed the same. They did and that’s why we were able to have a successful season.

‘Sure, when Derrick went down and Lu was traded everyone was questioning everything,’ Dunleavy acknowledged. ‘But we stuck with it and this has been the most rewarding season I’ve had as a pro by far.’

In a sense, Thibodeau might want to reward Dunleavy with the chance to start. Even though Dunleavy has spent plenty of time in his 12-year career coming off the bench, the lack of an established player to replace him probably won’t push him there quite yet.

McDermott and Snell have to prove to Thibodeau that they’re ready for the responsibility of playing in a demanding defensive system, but Dunleavy already passed his initial test. If this is about trust more than it’s about potential, Dunleavy should get the nod.

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Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol Providing Valuable Tape

Some were skeptical that it was a good idea for Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol to attend the FIBA World Cup.  Don’t count the Chicago Bulls among them.
Tom Thibodeau and coaching staff getting extended look at future pairing
One of the reasons Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau joined the U.S. basketball team as an assistant coach, aside from helping them win a golden medal, was to get reacquainted and back in rhythm with Derrick Rose.  The star Chicago point guard has missed almost two full NBA seasons dealing with knee injuries.  His hope is that playing in the world championships will get him better prepared for the coming season.  The added advantage is it will give Thibodeau a front row seat to see how Rose progresses, what he can do and what he needs to work on.  So far the results are mixed.  At times Rose looks extremely explosive, showing his old ability to knife through a defense to the rim.  Other times his shot appears erratic and he struggles at the free throw line.  So far he’s averaged 7 po

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Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose In MVP Form For USA Team

Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose In MVP Form For USA Team
By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…
As I was born in Chicago, live in Chicago and have 25 years on my belt as a fan of the Chicago Bulls, even though it is my job to cover the NBA with no bias, I care more about the health and play of Derrick Rose than if the USA wins gold in Spain. I’m sorry, I may sound like a traitor, but the Bulls are my team and I haven’t seen a Bulls championship since I was 9. The Bulls winning a title depends on the health of Derrick Rose and if he is healthy and in MVP form, the Bulls are 1 of the 2 best teams in the Eastern Conference and have their best chance of winning the East since that title when I was 9, so yes I am watching the games more to see how Rose plays and how he carries himself on the court more than Team USA winning. Regardless, he looks excellent.
He is playing off the bench for maybe 15-20 minutes per game, but when he plays he looks like, well, Derrick Rose. He has his qu…

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Chicago Bulls: Is Nikola Mirotic the Next Toni Kukoc?

One of the burning questions for the Chicago Bulls this season rests on new addition Nikola Mirotic.  Can he match the outstanding success of Toni Kukoc?  Well, that is a hard question to answer so below will be a comparison of the two based on stats when they entered the league.  Then a couple of videos will illustrate what Kukoc brought to the Bulls during his memorable run with then back in the ’90s.
Stats During Final Euroleague Season:
Kukoc (Benetton Treviso) – 21.0 points, 5 assists, 2.11 steals per game
Mirotic (Real Madrid) – 12.4 points, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steal, 4.4 rebounds per game
Stats During NBA Rookie Season:
Kukoc (1993-1994) – 10.9 points, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 4.0 rebounds per game
Mirotic (2014-2015) – ?
It’s important to remember that Kukoc was two years older than Mirotic when he joined the NBA in 1993.  That is a considerable difference.  He was more seasoned and also had experience in the Olympics, something the Spanish native has yet to venture into.  So judging b

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How Much Do Chicago Bulls Need from Pau Gasol Next Season?

Between both frontcourt positions, the Chicago Bulls have 96 minutes per game to distribute between Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol in their 2014-15 campaign.

How many of those minutes will go to Gasol?

The 34-year-old Spaniard, and two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, is undoubtedly one of the top post presences of his generation. But whether he should clock major minutes in his twilight stint with Chicago is a dubious question. More likely, he’ll become an invaluable role player, redefining himself in a fashion reminiscent of Ray Allen with the Miami Heat.

Like Allen, Gasol left his storied NBA franchise on questionable terms. Under-appreciated as part of the reign of Kobe Bryant, and misused through multiple coaching changes, Gasol’s got something to prove with the Bulls. “Instinct told me to pick Chicago,” he told the press at his introductory conference. He’s got more basketball life to live.

But his new mission shouldn’t involve the workload of a cornerstone. Gasol’s new job, if optimized, will make him into a kind of perfect basketball poison. Because he’s troubled by injuries—he missed 55 games combined over the past two years—and also plays with two elite defenders in Gibson and Noah, Gasol should be employed strategically. 

Twenty to 25 minutes per game should be enough time for Gasol to make his imprint, giving the Bulls another look with his dexterity in the lane and passing vision from the high post. Gasol can duplicate a lot of what Noah did as “point center” last year. Gasol and Noah, Bulls fans hope, can also converge as twin passing threats and find each other and cutting teammates at the rim.

They’ll have the chance to develop such chemistry, as Gasol is likely to start. Head coach Tom Thibodeau tends to give starting jobs on a basis of seniority whenever there’s a gray area. Gibson is arguably a better player at this point of his and Gasol’s respective careers. Gibson clocked a staggering 26.5 player efficiency rating in an increased role against the Washington Wizards in the postseason. He’s a remarkable player and is squarely in his prime.

But Thibodeau showed he’s respectful to tenure by starting Carlos Boozer over Gibson throughout 2013-14, during which Gibson was a vastly superior player. And Thibodeau may also be wise to mix and match his bigs so as to have one defensive-minded big next to a score-first man for most of the game.

In other words: Expect to see Gasol, a questionable defender as he ages, next to Gibson or Noah, while rarely sharing the floor with Mirotic. Thibodeau’s obsessive zeal for protecting the rim makes the Gasol-Mirotic combination a dim possibility. 

The Bulls need the extra punch Gasol brings on offense, but they’ll also be expecting a lot from him off the court. His experience and renowned, team-first attitude were big parts of Gasol’s appeal to Chicago. He enters a long-running cultural effort by the team—the Bulls are only interested in players eager to accept Thibodeau’s intense principles and tireless eye for X’s and O’s detail.

By bringing Gasol on board, the Bulls gain a personality who knows how to weather the harshest challenges of the NBA calendar and someone who’s happy to share his know-how with the rest of the roster. Mirotic learning under Gasol also bodes well for the Bulls’ future.

A fellow Spanish speaker, Mirotic will face rough lessons and a steep learning curve in his first year playing in the United States. A mobile, skilled power forward, Mirotic also falls in a similar category of player as Gasol. He stands to learn a lot as his understudy.

The Bulls got themselves a winner in Pau Gasol. He isn’t the same all-world player he was in his prime, but he’s still a singular character in the league. If Chicago manages his role just right, he could turn out to be their best acquisition in years. 

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Chicago Bulls: Sign Hasheem Thabeet

Chicago Bulls: Sign Hasheem Thabeet
By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…
The Oklahoma City Thunder traded Hasheem Thabeet to the Philadelphia 76ers for well basically zilch, however the 76ers then waived him, so he is a free agent and is an excellent fit for the Chicago Bulls, who should sign him. He would fill their biggest and only need on the roster and since they have a couple of roster spots, one should be filled by Thabeet.
The Bulls have one of the best rosters in the NBA and are one of just a few teams that can win a title, but only if they are healthy. Their roster is deep and excellent, but they are missing one thing, a reserve defensive center. The Bulls have one of the best big man rotations in the NBA with Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson, but it seems that their 2nd center is 1st string power forward Pau Gasol, which isn’t a problem and there really isn’t a reason to play a 5th big man too many minutes, but it would be nice for them to h…

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Best Chicago Bulls Rumors of All-Time

Michael Jordan to the Clippers? Magic Johnson’s draft rights lost on a coin-flip? We’ll cover all that and more with some of the best Chicago Bulls Rumors of all-time.
10. Adidas Brothers in Arms

Once upon a time, didn’t a pairing of Adidas endorsement brothers seem super sexy? Dwight Howard was on his way out of Orlando, and Chicago seemed like a sensible destination to toss into the rumor mill. Some thought it so sexy that it would be prudent to offer the Magic a package headlined by Joakim Noah. Now two years later, how do you feel about that trade? Howard seems to have fallen from grace since his less than graceful transition L.A. departure.
On the other hand, Joakim Noah is fresh off a DPOY campaign in which he was picked to be a First Team All-Pro over the aforementioned Howard. Last season, Rocket’s coach Kevin Mchale even stated publicly that Noah was a better center than Dwight. Granted, that was probably just an empty kick in the ass aimed to increase production from his All-Star center.

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The Best Chicago Bulls Knockoff Jersey You Will Ever See

Ok, let me present a scenario for you …. you’re at the beach and a guy comes walking by covered in Chinese tattoos – but has a hot chick with him…. two things immediately happen.
#1. You probably mumble something along the lines of “nice tattoos dude” (sarcasm)
#2. You wonder, what the hell does that even say?
Most people just trust the experts at the tattoo shop … the most common Chinese symbol tattoos are “love” , “strength” , “honor” , etc.
How many people actually look these up themselves and verify?  Next to none.
Enter this guy.

Poor chap. Somebody gave him a “Bluls” jersey and didn’t even have the decency to tell him (we are assuming) that the team name is mis-spelled.
This tourist, presumably American and presumably a tourist, couldn’t contain himself and had to snap a pic. Well done sir.
Go “BLULS”?

6 total views, 6 views today

The post The Best Chicago Bulls Knockoff Jersey You Will Ever See appeared first on ✶ Sports Mockery ✶ Chicago Breaking Sports.

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2014-15 Season Must Be Joakim Noah’s Finest as a Chicago Bull

Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls is coming off one of the best all-around seasons in recent history. He must do even better in 2014-15, but not in the way you might think.

Noah recorded 1,007 points, 900 rebounds, 431 assists, 121 blocks and 99 steals last year. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the only other players who have chalked up those numbers are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975-76) and Kevin Garnett (five times).

Only Noah won the Defensive Player of the Year in the season he accomplished it, though.

Furthermore, after Derrick Rose went down with a season-ending injury on Nov. 22, and Luol Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 7, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau reinvented the offense to go through Noah as a point center.

It resulted in the Bulls having the best record in the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the season, according to NBA.com/Stats.

So how does Noah improve? To be honest, statistically, he doesn’t.

But numbers don’t define Noah. His greatest virtues are not embodied in them. He’s the best intangible player in the league. It’s why he won DPOY. It’s why he was the All-Defensive First Team center and on the All-NBA First Team.

In spite of the all-around numbers he posted, the most memorable thing about his 2013-14 season came days after the Deng trade.

With rumors swirling that the Bulls were tanking—and should be—Noah put an end to that nonsense, declaring:

There’s no tanking, and that’s it. … We just want to represent. … When I come to the game, I see the guy selling the newspapers on the streets. [It's] cold outside — when he sees me driving by, he’s excited. You know what I mean? He’s excited. He’s like, ‘All right. Let’s go Bulls! Get it done tonight!’ I feel like I play for that guy. Like when I look at the top of the arena, and I look up top and I see teams call timeout, and I see the guy who looks this big and he’s up cheering up and down, jumping up and down, that’s the guy I play for.

And with that, Noah picked up not just the team, but the entire Bulls fanbase. Afterward, there was no more talk of quitting. He just wouldn’t allow it.

If you want something that defines Noah, that’s it: competitive fire.

Whether it was doing a crazy dance with Florida after winning the national championship, getting suspended his rookie year by his own teammates or channeling that same intensity as a more mature man, Noah’s will to win has always defined him.

It’s what makes him willing to adjust his game to do whatever it takes. And that’s what the Bulls will demand from him in 2014-15.

This year, Chicago’s roster is experiencing a makeover.

It’s getting an influx of offensive talent that it hasn’t had in Thibodeau’s tenure. Rose is returning. Pau Gasol was signed via free agency. Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott will be playing in their rookie seasons.

As a result, Noah’s numbers will suffer.

His minutes will diminish (thankfully), as the Bulls’ bigs will run four deep this year. His rebounds will see a corresponding drop. He won’t be the primary distributor with Rose back and Gasol being another great passer.

And he won’t give a hoot about that.

Numbers aren’t where Noah must have his best year. It’s in the things box scores don’t measure. That’s where his true value is.

His little buddy, Rose, will be playing with an almost-new cast from what he had when he was last healthy.

The only current Bulls players Rose shared the court with for more than 300 minutes are Noah, Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich—with most of that time coming during Hinrich’s first stint with Chicago.

That means the bridge from the old gang to the new one is going to have to be Noah, not Rose. Noah is one of the smartest players in the league, and that will be a key to a smooth transition.

He’ll have to do so by re-reinventing his place on offense, finding a balance between the high-post-passing big he was last year and the putback beast he was when he was playing alongside Rose prior to the MVP’s injury issues.

Noah will still be setting picks as well as anyone in the league, freeing up Rose to wreak havoc with blistering speed.

He’ll be catching the ball in the high post, feeding Gasol the ball down low or churning it out to Mirotic and McDermott behind the three-point line.

He’ll be taking on LeBron James from time to time in isolation, or keeping Dwight Howard out of the restricted area.

His defensive accolades did not come only because of his individual play, though. He’ll resume his Garnett-like generalship of the D, barking commands and/or gently nudging his teammates into position.

And now, he’ll be asked to work in and around all three newcomers in the defensive scheme, adjusting to each one’s weaknesses and compensating for them.

That could mean stepping out to the perimeter to help McDermott when he’s beaten off the dribble, or dropping into the restricted area to help Mirotic or Gasol protect the rim.

And it doesn’t end there. While Rose might be the on-court leader, Noah will still be the off-court captain.

When Rose is frustrated and forcing things, Noah will need to calm him down. When Tony Snell is struggling, Noah will need to coax out his confidence by helping his chest-bump game.

When the rookies inevitably blow their defensive assignments, it will be Noah who helps them to understand how to process Thibodeau’s rants.

Finally, that raw energy, scrappy defiance and quitlessness that is the Bulls will be bred into the new arrivals by Noah.

The fight that ended the Miami Heat‘s win streak at 27 games in 2013, that won the triple-overtime game against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4, that would not cave to adversity last season and will not fear LeBron James—whatever team he plays for—must be reproduced in them.

And Noah is the man to do it. 

McDermott, Gasol and Mirotic will join Rose to serve as the face of the proverbial watch. While they’re racking up the scoring numbers and getting the attention, beneath it will be Noah: the gear who spins all the other gears.

The box scores won’t reveal his value, but the standings and the playoffs will. In that sense, it will be his finest season with Chicago.

The Bulls have the talent to win a title, but that alone is not enough. If they take home the championship, the difference will be Noah’s leadership and intangibles.

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Chicago Bulls: What to watch for

Fans of the Chicago Bulls, along with fans of any NBA team that isn’t the Cavaliers are officially on notice. The Kevin Love to Cleveland trade is official and I’m officially worried.
Kevin Love is running as fast as he can from Minnesota to Cleveland
The new big three in Cleveland of LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving is better than the big three in Miami ever was. Love and Irving have as much or more talent than Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and are both much younger.
The 2014-2015 season will be Love’s 7th NBA season and Irving’s 4th. When LeBron joined the Heat, Wade and Bosh were both entering their 8th NBA season. LeBron has a lot of work to do to make the Cavaliers a great team but the good news is, because the core of the team is so young, he has plenty of time.
Even though Love is only 25, he plays with the intelligence and experience of someone who’s been in the NBA for 15 years. I’m not sure how long a player has to be in the league to be considered a veteran but in my mind, Love s

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