Chicago Bulls are the biggest surprise in the NBA this season

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Joakim Noah Derrick Rose

The Chicago Bulls have achieved great things up to now in the season and no one really knows how further they can get. Really, Chicago has managed to save the season after yet another season – ending injury from Derrick Rose. But on top of that, the Bulls, riding Joakim Noah’s incredible performances have managed to turn what seemed to be a lost season into a championship contending one.

Of course, no one truly believes that the Bulls can actually defeat teams like the Indiana Pacers or the Miami Heat this season. But have you watched the Pacers lately? They are on an offensive cold spell and given that the Bulls are one of the best defenses in the entire NBA this season, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Chicago broke the home court advantage in such a potential match up. And once this happens, who knows what the ceiling is for the Bulls?

The Bulls are currently occupying the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference but they have the same record as the Toronto Raptors. The battle for the fourth and third position is an important one as neither the Raptors nor the Bulls would want to meet the fifth – seeded Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the postseason.

Chicago is led by Joakim Noah, who has drastically improved his performance after the All – Star break. The Frenchman center is playing exceptional defense and he is also a factor for Tom Thibodeau’s team on the offensive end. Although Noah is scoring just 12.5 points per game up to now in the season he is also dishing out 5.2 assists and grabbing 11.1 rebounds, 3.5 of which come on the offensive glass. Noah is also shooting 48.2 percent from the floor and 73.0 percent from the charity stripe.

Thanks to the uplift in his performance, Noah has put his name into the MVP of the regular season discussion. In fact, he and Blake Griffin are considered as the two black horses in this race, with LeBron James and Kevin Durant, of course being the two strongest favorites. It will be almost impossible for Noah to reach either LeBron or Durant, perhaps even Blake Griffin will finish ahead of him in the balloting. Nonetheless, it’s significant that although he has limited offense, he is currently considered as a stronger favorite than players like Stephen Curry and Paul George.

The Chicago Bulls will have a great chance to make something happen in the East. After all, they are the second best defensive team in the entire NBA. Defense plays a big role in the playoffs. A crucial stop can make the difference between life and death, the elimination from the playoffs and the advance to the next leg.

Thankfully, Noah is receiving much help from several role players in Chicago. Since Luol Deng was traded away to the Cleveland Cavaliers, in what was a big salary dump for the Bulls, the Bulls had to rely on their role players to find success. Players like Taj Gibson, D.J. Augustin, Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy have stepped up and they are now providing much help. In fact, there are six players in the Chicago Bulls roster who are averaging double figures this season. Chicago just recently picked up Jimmer Fredette, too, and they expect him to be a contributor in the team’s playoff efforts.

The Chicago Bulls shouldn’t be underestimated. None of the Eastern Conference teams will have an easy time defeating Chicago. Thanks to Tom Thibodeau’s defensive mindset the Bulls have now get used to playing very hard on defense. They are one of the few teams who can hold off their opponent possession after possession, even when that opponent is a powerhouse like the Heat or the Pacers. If Chicago makes it to the second leg and then manages to break the home court advantage of an upper – seeded opponent, things could get really scary. Of course, the Bulls are underdogs and it will be a big surprise but also a significant achievement for them to make the NBA Finals. However, they are far from done.

One aspect of their game the Bulls definitely have to improve for the playoffs is their offense. Although Chicago ranks second in the league in points allowed, it also ranks dead last in scoring, with just 93.1 per game. Defense is certainly essential and Chicago will need to play big on defense. However, without scoring, they will not go far. Carlos Boozer, who once was a co – leader for Chicago next to Derrick Rose, should be the one to show some urgency and step up. Boozer is recording an off – season, averaging just 13.8 points on a 45.2 percent shooting from the field to go along with 8.4 rebounds. The Bulls will need him to be at his best come playoff time. Of course, the veteran power forward currently plays with low confidence. After all, earlier in the season, there were some discussions about the Bulls’ consideration to part ways with him. However, he is a proven veteran and he has to show some professionalism but also some passion about his team.

Taj Gibson is another player who is over performing this season for the Bulls. In fact, maybe Gibson is not actually over performing but he has taken advantage of the more minutes and the biggest role he was assigned with and he is now recording great performances. The “Tasmanian Devil” is currently the second – leading scorer for Chicago, averaging a little more than 13 points per game and also 6.9 rebounds.

In general, Chicago is a very dangerous team, one title contenders should keep an eye on. They will definitely not be an easy team to beat and they do stand some chances to make it to the NBA Finals. Bulls fans, don’t get over excited but don’t be pessimists either.

Ron Leyba is the content manager of Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues – premier source of fantasy basketball updates, rankings and rumors. For more of his fantasy basketball updates, follow Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ account.

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