Chicago Bulls are the biggest surprise in the NBA this season

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. [Read more…]

The Bulls and The Heat and The Oprah…Time for Game 2

Since Oprah is more powerful than basically any person or any entity, today’s column is the Game 2 preview instead of the Game 2 recap.

As much as people have been making a joke out of this topic, Heat forward Lebron James offered some good perspective.

“She’s [Oprah] very important. Not only to the world, but to this city. We’ll take a back seat to Oprah. We don’t have a problem with that.

Now that the Oprah angle has been exhausted, let’s move on to basketball.

By: Brian McCabe

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Chicago Bulls 95, Atlanta Hawks 83: Game 5 Reaction, Analysis, Stankonia


83% of game 5 winners in a NBA Playoff series, when the series was tied 2-2 heading in, have gone on to win the series. Great news for the Chicago Bulls, bad news for the Atlanta Hawks.

-Was there a Taj.O web redemption in game 5? Maybe?

Taj Gibson had 11 points – all in the fourth quarter. Derrick Rose also scored 11 in the fourth to close it out, as the Bulls dominated the Hawks 26-15 in the final stanza. But Gibson had a whopping 2 rebounds (that’s 2 more than a dead guy) to go with his 0 (that’s the same amount as a dead guy) in game four.

-So when you start your “Rise of Taj” jokes/headlines remember this 1.) that reference is cliche and unfunny, you sound like a douche. 2.) He’s not ready to supplant Carlos Boozer yet. He’s just a good bench contributor.

By Paul M. Banks

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Indiana Pacers Playoff Primer: Round 1 vs. Chicago Bulls

The time has come.

The moment for which the Indiana Pacers and their fan base have been waiting five years arrives today at 1 p.m. with Game 1 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, the Eastern Conference’s top seed, at United Center.

While just making the playoffs, particularly with a season record of 37-45, is a fine accomplishment in itself, the Pacers have a tremendous opportunity in front of them. If Indiana is competitive each night — certainly within the realm of possibility — it can take significant steps forward in reviving the “passion” and “pride,” so to speak, in and around Indianapolis. We’re going to take a look at the matchups and how the Pacers can go about doing that.

By Drew Allen

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Deng possibly the missing piece in Bulls puzzle after all?

Luol Deng’s 39 points on Monday night can not be ignored.

He’s the X-factor. If Deng shines this season or even comes close to the potential the Bulls envisioned when they handed him a contract potentially worth up to $80 million, Chicago has a chance to seriously compete in the much-improved east.

Ifs, ands, or buts aside, this is not the first time Deng has flashed his scoring abilities since signing his contract in 2008. However, his inconsistency to shoot efficiently on a nightly basis has caused the love -hate relationship fans have with the oft-injured yet talented forward. Let’s face it, Deng’s play since 2008 has had more flip-flops than a spring break pool party.

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Carlos Boozer can be Robin to Derrick Rose’s Batman

So many failed experiments, and finally the Chicago Bulls have found their big man.

By my count, I have ten failures by the organization at the power forward position: Elton Brand, Tyrus Thomas, Tyson Chandler, Drew Gooden, PJ Brown, Andres Nocioni, Michael Sweetney, Lonny Baxter, Antonio Davis and Donyell Marshall. Almost all were expected at one point to deliver the franchise a low post presence, and every one of them has been shown the door out of Chicago.

But things are different now. When that magical ping pong ball revealed in May 2008, despite only a 1.7% chance, the Bulls would have the rights to draft Derrick Rose, the search began to surround the talented point guard with sufficient help.

It’s finally here.

Carlos Boozer, the same Alaskan who sent a recruiting video to Mike Krzyzewski because he wasn’t receiving any attention, is the Bulls‘ new $80 million answer to what seemed to be their lingering problem over the past decade – finding a legitimate and versatile post threat.

By Ethan Asofsky and Paul M. Banks

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Don’t forget About Luol on Taj on Bulls Front Line


The biggest Chicago Bulls stories this NBA preseason have revolved around their bigs: the possibility of trading/and later the signing of Joakim Noah and the injury to splashy offseason acquisition Carlos Boozer.

This has taken attention away from the other solid, if not spectacular players on Chicago’s front line: small forward Luol Deng, the man with the most absurdly expensive contract in team history, and second year man Taj Gibson, who will start at the four again, at least until Boozer gets back.

Both the Boozer and Noah stories are essentially non-stories. Booze gets hurt every season and seems to miss 20 games every year. He’s just getting it out of the way early this season. And for all the Noah trade rumors- he’s still here and likely will be for awhile.

That said, let’s look at the forwards who avoided the limelight this preseason.

By Paul M. Banks

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Bucks Jennings, Bulls Gibson make NBA All-Rookie Team

brandon jennings bucks

Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings, Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors were unanimous selections to the 2009-10 T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced today.

Rounding out the T-Mobile NBA All-Rookie First Team are New Orleans’ Darren Collison (46 points) and Chicago Bulls’ Taj Gibson (41 points).

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Bulls Send Message to Tyrus Thomas in Draft


By Paul M. Banks

Did the Chicago Bulls send a message to incumbent starting power forward Tyrus Thomas Thursday night by drafting two power forwards? By using both of their first round draft picks on prospects who play the four, the Chicago front office seems to be telling us one of two things. Either a.) Coach Vinny Del Negro, GM Gar Forman and company are unhappy with Thomas (who desperately needs to develop a post move) and are attempting to motivate him, or b.) Ty is being aggressively shopped to other GMs in the league. Maybe we’ll learn more once NBA free agency starts on July 1, when more transactions are like to start happening around the association.

But we can worry about that later, for now let’s focus on who the Bulls did pick up with the 16th and 26th overall picks.

Wake Forest, Forward, James Johnson

In college, Johnson was able to muscle weaker defenders down low while also using his ability to drive and finish. His range from deep leaves plenty of room for improvement, but he did develop a more consistent mid-range game as a sophomore. “We love his versatility he can play the four, he can play the three, he can play inside, he can play outside, at his size 6’8” 250 he can put the ball on the floor, he can rebound and put it out in transition. He’s a very big passer for a big guy,” Forman said to the media present at the Berto Center.

USC, Forward, Taj Gibson

Gibson is already 23 years old and should be able to contribute off the bench right away. He will likely make a living as a professional thanks to his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. 6’10” with a 7’2” wingspan, Gibson had the second longest reach of anyone in this draft. (Only the 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet was longer) “His wingspan was amazing, he’s long, he can block shots in the lane and he has a developing inside-outside game,” Forman said of Gibson on draft night.

Bulls Draft Moving Forward?


By Paul M. Banks

In the NBA Draft, lying is the only truth. NBA GMs often tell the media they’ll be focusing on guards with their draft choices. Before they say they’re focusing on forwards. Or maybe centers. Others just go the “best player available” route. In this environment of doublespeak, it’s good to focus on need when attempting to predict where a team will go. And the Chicago Bulls need a scoring big man like a newbie author needs an Oprah’s Book Club recommendation. Unfortunately, there are very few legitimate 4s and 5s with offensive game in this draft after Blake Griffin.

Therefore, when the Bulls possibly pick a forward with their two first round picks (#16 and #26, they have no picks in the second round this year) it may be at the 3, a.k.a. small forward or swingman. One of those could be North Carolina’s Danny Green, who had a physical workout at the Bulls practice facility before the NBA Draft Combine. At combine media day he spoke about his experience at the Berto Center. “They were really cool guys that I knew from last year when I met, sat down and talked with them. I saw Joahkim Noah there, I did high school ball at AAU with him,” Green said.

Partially due to the ridiculous amount of unnecessary hype surrounding his teammate Tyler Hansbrough, perhaps no player in college basketball did more for his team and received less attention for it than Green. He isn’t going to blow you away with any particular part of his game, but he does a little bit of everything- truly earning the title “glue guy.”

Perhaps this statistic solves the Chicago draft riddle: about three-quarters of the players who have worked out for the Bulls were forwards. Including: UConn’s Jeff Adrien, Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt, LSU’s Chris Johnson, Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal, USC’s Taj Gibson and Wisconsin’s Marcus Landry.

Stellar USC Duo Leave Scandalous Program for NBA


By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

With all the turmoil surrounding the USC basketball program and head coach Tim Floyd’s recent resignation amid allegations of paying an associate of O.J. Mayo $1,000, former Trojans Demar DeRozan and Taj Gibson undoubtedly made the right decision to leave school early and enter the NBA Draft. They may have been on the fence earlier in the process, but there’s no more “testing the waters” for these two men of Troy. With the USC program possibly degenerating into a real life version of the early ‘90s film “Blue Chips,” Gibson and DeRozan know returning to Los Angeles (unless the Clippers and Lakers draft them) is out of the question.

Like Mayo, DeRozan entered Southern Cal with a lot of hype.  His early season struggles in acclimating himself to the college game left many wondering if he could truly make a Mayo-type impact during his freshman campaign with the Trojans.  As the season progressed, DeRozan came into his own averaging 19.1 points per game over his last seven games. Playing in the rugged Pac-10 motivated him to take his game up a notch.  “Every year, the Pac-10 always had the greatest amount of NBA prospects come up, going through that each year is great- preparing you for what the NBA is going to be like night in and night out,” DeRozan told me at the NBA Draft Combine.usc_floyd_basketball1

Athleticism has never been a concern for DeRozan.  He is as gifted with his quickness, explosiveness, and speed as any wing player in the college game.  His strength is getting to the basket with his driving ability, but he also showed an improved mid-range game during the course of the season.  Three-point shooting is still a major area of concern as DeRozan connected on just 17% of his attempts from downtown.

With his un-tapped potential, DeRozan is high on many NBA teams’ radars.  He could possibly go as high as number six to the Timberwolves and shouldn’t drop out of the top ten.  His impact in the NBA may not be felt right away, but in a few years; he could be a special player.

Taj Gibson

Teammate Taj Gibson is the opposite of DeRozan in terms of what he can bring to the table at the next level.  Despite just finishing his junior season, Gibson is already 23 years old and should be able to contribute off the bench right away.  He will likely make a living as a professional thanks to his rebounding and shot blocking ability which is helped out by his somewhat freakish 7’4” wingspan. The only combine attendee to have a larger wingspan was the 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet, so when Gibson goes up for a rebound or to block a shot his arms reach towards the sky like the spires of the Taj Mahal.

Offensively, Gibson is no slouch either.  He has a decent mid-range game and is effective with his back to the basket.  Developing his pick and roll game will be a must if Gibson is going to contribute on the offensive end. The now embattled Floyd has NBA coaching experience with the Chicago Bulls (a team that is showing a lot of interest in Gibson) and served as a primary mentor to Gibson. “My coach has been a big factor in my life, going through the NBA system, just learning and watching; and he told me I was ready,” Gibson said.