2014-2015 NBA Central Division Breakdown

The NBA Central Division is comprised of 5 teams, the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, & Milwaukee Bucks.

DAY 1: CHICAGO BULLS.

Prediction:

Record: 56-26.

Division Rank: 2nd Central Division.

Conference Rank: 2nd overall Eastern Conference.

ANALYSIS: Yes I’m drinking the LeBron/Kyrie/Kevin Kool-Aid & assuming that the chemistry will come together & they will figure things out. The Chicago Bulls however, are the clear contender in the Eastern Conference to challenge The King & his Cavs. The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has the odds on the Bulls set at 6/1, trailing only the Cavs & the San Antonio Spurs, in that regard. “The return of Derrick Rose” is the main storyline… Or is it? Multiple knee injuries have sidelined the former League MVP but there’s more to the story in the Windy City. The Chicago Bulls coaching staff is 2nd to only the one in San Antonio Texas. Tom Thibodeau aka “Tibs” is a throwback to old school basketball. Pride yourself on getting stops defensively, creating a tough, quick-close-out defense that hits the glass & transitions well. He began his NBA career as an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolve from 1989-1991 & then moved on to San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York (Knicks), Houston, Boston & finally got his chance to take the helm in 2010 with the Bulls. Tibs has helped his teams finish in the League’s Top 10 in team defense 15 times. And from 2004-2007, his Houston Rockets were amongst the Top 5 in scoring defense & field goal percentage. Since taking the reins in Chicago, The Bulls have recorded the League’s best record twice, both in 2010-11 & 2011-12 (tied with San Antonio) & with the injuries to the 2010-11 MVP Rose, Chicago still managed records of 45-37 (2012-13) & 48-34 (2013-14) without him. In fact Rose’s WARP (wins above replacement player) is just 4.1… Hardly the WARP of Kevin Durant’s 30.1 or LeBron’s 27.3 last season.

Coaching: Missing the MVP, how have they been able to accomplish the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference last season & the 5seed in 2012-13. They did that by getting the most out of the roster they had (attribute that to the coaching please). The 2011-12 season was the 66-game, lockout shortened year, a year that D-Rose missed 27 out of the 66 games. His reserves- John Lucas III & C.J. Watson… Who? Exactly. And they still managed to get on pace for a 55 win season that year, with those two guys you’ve never heard of manning the spot once owned by a League MVP. The Bulls found a way to extrapolate the maximum effort out of guys like Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Rip Hamilton, Kirk Heinrich, Nate Robinson, Marquis Teague to name a few last season (2012-13) & in 2011-2012, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, & C.J. Watson. Play hard, play defense, & the wins take care of themselves.

 

The Front Office: Chicago’s front office has built a team that the 312 hasn’t seen in over a decade.

 Important moves from the two previous aforementioned squads:

Omer Asik left to be a starter in Houston in 2012-13, then to a reserve last year, now back to being a starter this season… for the New Orleans Pelicans. Luol Deng was traded mid-way through last season to the Cavs & has since joined Miami. Richard “Rip” Hamilton is now an analyst on NBATV. Kyle Korver has spent the past 2 seasons with his current team, the Atlanta Hawks. Ronnie Brewer, a journeyman through 8 years had 2 stints with the Bulls but was released July (pleaded no contest to DUI charge in LA over the summer).  As for the spark plug that I absolutely loved with Tibs, Nate Robinson, he went to Denver in 2013 & started 1 game. With ample cap space this summer the Bulls used their amnesty on Carlos Boozer & built a deep team top-to-bottom. They’ve added 2x NBA Champion, stretch-4 defining, Pau Gasol through free agency, pair him with the defensive hustling, work-horse, Joakim Noah & that gives Pau the offset High-Low post player he should be paired with. The Bulls also brought the promising Nikola Mirotic to the NBA from Europe, after being drafted in 2011. And they drafted 3-point shooting phenom, Doug McDermott this past summer. Kirk Heinrich remains one of the most capable back-ups in the Association. Adding Aaron Brooks at PG bring even more depth. Jimmy Butler has looked more & more confident with each month that passes by & quite frankly Taj Gibson is an Animal.

This Season: This season the Bulls need Derrick Rose to manage his body, the coaching staff will manage his minutes. I don’t know if he’ll ever return to that MVP stature of the past, but Tom Thibodeau said “ I expect him to get back to exactly who he was”. If that’s the case, watch out. This team has already proven they can survive without D-Rose & they’ve only gotten stronger, but they need him for a Championship. In the end, the NBA demands depth in order to win titles & the Chicago Bulls have paired one of the Association’s best coaching staffs with the deepest team they’ve had since the Jordan era… Chicago will be a force this season & the Bulls are once again on the doorstep of immortality.