Most sane people wouldn’t dare compare the Chicago Bulls to the ever-ill-fated Chicago Cubs. However, for the sake of an interesting read, I’m leaving my sanity up for debate and making this association – if only for a few minutes. Of course, I’m not saying that the Bulls will contract any curses or go without a championship for 104 years (surely, the basketball gods that gave us Michael Jordan would smile upon the Bulls’ fate soon enough).
What I’m getting at here is that much like the Cubs, the Bulls are in rebuilding mode (as a result of last season’s unexpected end). And while there hasn’t been any front office or coaching changes, it became obvious that because of Derrick Rose’s injury, the team would have to pass over its hopes of a championship, go into its next phase and plan for the future. With that said, the Bulls kept busy this offseason, trying to make some small, positive changes while not emptying out their pockets. Let’s take a look at what the Bulls were able to scrounge up, and how they’ll fit in with the seven remaining players.
Marco Belinelli, G – The Italian stallion (I expect credit for that one, Stacey King) has spent the last two seasons with the New Orleans Hornets, where he saw his numbers improve from his previous seasons with Toronto and Golden State. Last season, he shot 42 percent from the field and notched a career-high 11.8 points per game. He’s a career 39 percent three-point shooter, but the reason he will be so valuable to the Bulls is because of his ability to find the open shot and drive to the basket. He rarely turns the ball over, and defenses will have to be on their toes, as he can make shots from anywhere on the floor.
Kirk Hinrich, G – Bulls fans were generally happy about the return of Captain Kirk, myself included. Obviously, he’s no answer to our prayers, but he will get the job done for now. Hinrich will likely start most games until Rose returns, and even the most pessimistic of Bulls fans should be happy that Hinrich at least fits well into coach Tom Thibodeau’s system. And while his points per game were paltry last year at 6.6 (he had shoulder surgery last offseason), Hinrich is a relatively reliable three-point shooter who will likely help the Bulls get to the playoffs this season.
Nazr Mohammed, C – The Bulls’ replacement for Omer Asik, the Chicago native and 14-year veteran is just that – a replacement. He spent the last two seasons with Oklahoma City, and the fact of the matter is that his numbers have declined since his time with the Spurs from 2004-2006. He has a career average of 5.2 rebounds per game, which is his main strength. And while his presence will be a plus in the locker room, he is not a great defender, and his addition was likely more about saving money than anything else.
Vladimir Radmanovic, F – Another NBA veteran, Radmanovic is definitely a step up from John Lucas III. And while he is no longer in the prime of his career, he can help the Bulls with his career 38 percent three-point shooting versatility on the court. Radmanovic is a good shooter with more control than Lucas, and will be a solid option off the bench for Thibodeau.
Nate Robinson, G – The Bulls may have done their best work this offseason with the addition of Robinson. He’s an energetic, athletic player who will breathe some life into this dejected Bulls team. Last season, Robinson averaged 11.2 points per game and shot 42 percent with Golden State. He’ll likely come off the bench and be a backup for Hinrich, which will be a positive because of his high energy and ability to score when it counts.
Marquis Teague, G – The Bulls’ sole pick in this year’s draft, Teague may not get as much playing time as expected with the addition of Robinson. He’ll have to prove himself in camp to Thibs, and will have to find his place among the 2012-2013 Bulls’ band of misfits. And while he was a solid shooter at Kentucky, Teague has the tendency to turn the ball over, and I don’t think he’ll be given much of a chance to make mistakes on Thibodeau’s watch this season.
Overall, the Bulls may not have as bad of a season as we all feared they would. For the organization, the offseason was all about putting together a team who could potentially make the playoffs, but on the cheap. And despite the team’s championship hopes having been dashed because of Rose’s injury, I think the Bulls will at least be interesting to watch this season. It may be the crazy Cubs fan in me talking, but I think there’s still some hope.
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