The 2014-2015 NBA season is quickly approaching, and with all of the moves that have happened during the offseason (mostly in the Eastern Conference), quite a few people have been speculating on where the teams in the East will fall in terms of standings. When LeBron made the decision to take his talents back to Cleveland, after spending the last 4 years in Miami, a lot of people have already inked them into the 2015 NBA Finals. And the addition of Kevin Love, while keeping a core of Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving, and Anderson Varejao, the Cavs are a scary team to face next season.
But the Cavaliers aren’t the only ones who improved their roster, and if you ask me, the Bulls made it out pretty damn good this offseason. With Derrick Rose returning to the team after a second knee injury, the sky is the limit for the Bulls. Derrick will team up with 2-time NBA Champion, Pau Gasol, who should be a much-needed improvement from Carlos Boozer, who really struggled on the defensive end. Now, Pau Gasol is no defensive specialist or anything, but pairing the 7-footer with reigning DPOY, Joakim Noah, Gasol, who averaged 1.8blks last season, should be able to hold his own. Gasol also brings his stellar passing skills to a frontcourt that saw Joakim Noah tally 4 triple doubles just last season. Gasol, at 34, averaged 17.4ppg and 9.7rpg last season despite missing 22 games with injuries to the groin and vertigo. His health appeared fine during FIBA World Cup, as Gasol competed with Spain, and averaged better than 20ppg and 8rpg.
The Bulls also brought over 6’10” Spanish stretch forward Nikola Mirotic from his Real Madrid team, and drafted the Collegiate Player of Year, 6’8” wingman, Doug McDermott. Mirotic won 2 Spanish King’s Cup championships while playing for Madrid, and was named Spanish League MVP during the 2013 season. He averaged 12.4ppg and 4.6rpg on 50% shooting from below the arc and 46% from 3-point range, last season through 31 games. McDermott played all 4 years at Creighton, where he led the NCAA in scoring, and finished 5th all time in NCAA Division I scoring. Both should help stretch the floor in a way the Bulls haven’t seen before. The Aaron Brooks signing also adds some much-needed offensive depth.
Overall, the Bulls organization has a ton of playoff experience. In the last 10 years, the Bulls have made the postseason every year, with the exception of the 2007-2008 season, and the current roster has over 250 games of playoff experience. They are tied with only one other team in the East, the Miami Heat, for longest streak of consecutive playoff appearances at 6. That experience is going to come in handy when facing younger teams like the Wizards, Hornets, and Cavs, who haven’t seen much playoff success over recent years. A lot of the Bulls success over the last few years is in large part due to coaching, which is going to be key to the Bulls Championship run this year. Tom Thibodeau has been a defensive genius he’s been since taking over the Bulls in 2010, and has created a hard-nosed defensive culture, that the players have really bought into.
All things considered, if the Bulls can stay healthy, look for them to make some serious contention for the Eastern Conference crown. After watching Derrick Rose in the FIBA World Cup, the Bulls have a lot to look forward to. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was good. Derrick showed that his speed and explosiveness hadn’t left him, and his play making abilities were still there as well. Derrick gave himself an ‘A’ on his USA team performance with USA coach Mike Krzyzewski praising Rose’s ability saying, “he’s back [at an elite level].” The added scoring that the Bulls have picked up this offseason with Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott, and Aaron Brooks should help alleviate the offensive stress for Rose once next season does begin. The Bulls have a solid 10-man rotation right now, and health is going to be this team’s biggest rival. The Bulls have been bitten more than anybody by the injury bug the past few years, and if they can stay healthy, look for the Bulls to give the Cavs some serious competition in the Eastern Conference. Don’t be surprised if, and when, they’re in the 2015 NBA Finals