For all intents and purposes, the ‘experts’ have handed the Eastern Conference crown to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Why wouldn’t they after an off-season in which they landed LeBron James and Kevin Love among others?
That’s just the way the Chicago Bulls like it as they thrive on going under the radar and developing into one of the best teams in the NBA almost covertly. There’s one thing Chicago wants to change this season though – regular season wins are nice, but it’s time to go deep in the playoffs. With the way things are shaping up, Bulls fans might just see a return to glory.
Here are five reasons the Chicago Bulls could pull an upset and represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
The Return of Derrick Rose
This isn’t the first time Derrick Rose has supposedly been back to form after a knee injury, but there are signs that this time it’s permanent.
Of course, anything can happen during the course of the season but Rose has shown some of the burst and explosiveness that helped make him a league MVP once upon a time.
Rose played with the USA national team over the summer which helped to work off some of the rust of playing in only 49 games over three years. Rose has been injured so frequently that many people consider him an afterthought even though his return to full health could be one of the best ‘acquisitions’ this NBA offseason.
The Signing of Pau Gasol
Gasol had his choice of teams to play with but ultimately chose to sign with the Chicago Bulls. The 34-year-old has a lot of NBA miles on him, but could be a huge addition when played conservatively. Gasol brings with him an inside presence that can also score (something Chicago immensely needed) while also carrying a Championship pedigree. In addition, the Spaniard can serve as a mentor to new Bull Nikola Mirotic who comes to Chicago with high hopes from the Euroleague.
The Additions of Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic
Speaking of Mirotic, according to some scouts he’s the best foreign born player to come to the NBA since Dirk Nowitzki. The 6’10” Mirotic is an inside-out player who shot over 41% from three point range last year with Real Madrid. Chicago also traded for the #5 leading scorer in college basketball history on draft day when they acquired Doug McDermott. The 6’8” small forward is a bona fide scorer, again something the Chicago Bulls vastly needed to go along with their great defensive presence.
A Deep Bench
The Chicago Bulls have a legitimate 10-man rotation when you take into account Rose, Gasol, Mirotic, McDermott, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Kirk Hinrich, and Tony Snell. This allows Tom Thibodeau a number of in-game options which could lead to a lot of regular season wins and what the Bulls hope turns out to be home court advantage.
An Under Control Thibodeau
This season Thibodeau has a responsibility to use that bench wisely, something he’s failed to do in the past running playersroughshed at 40+ minutes a night until they’re drained for the playoffs. Chicago Bulls brass has not so quietly told Thibs to tone it down this year and keep his players fresh, something that will be crucial with aging/injury prone players such as Rose, Gasol, and Noah.
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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