NBA Season Wrap Up: Chicago Bulls
Numbers don't tell the whole story when it comes to the 2012-13 Chicago Bulls. In fact, they really don't tell any of the story.
This team was built on emotion and the comparison of coach Thibodeau to a football coach, due to the toughness, passion, and team mentality that he instilled, is fitting. They had no business competing with the Heat in some of these playoff games, but just like they did all year, they came out and played hard and played with confidence.
Despite taking a big step back in offensive production this year and dropping from the best defense in the league to just being really good, the Bulls still won 45 games.
Coach Thibodeau deserves a lot credit for making the whole greater than the sum of its part, but those parts are still pretty good. Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson, and Richard Hamilton are all good, experienced players. Marcus Teague and Jimmy Butler are both young contributors that will continue to improve so it's not like Thibs was working with a bare cupboard.
Their combination of experience, youth, depth, and good coaching will keep the Bulls in contention and, when Derrick Rose is back to 100%, they should be right back where they were before he went down - the biggest threat to Miami in the Eastern Conference.
We have a tendency to react to what we just saw. We just saw Nate Robinson try to single-handedly carry the Bulls for stretches and a general inability to score from the rest of the team. So the answer appears to be to add more scoring options that can create offense.
But that's not what makes the Bulls go. In 2010-11, when the Bulls won 62 games, it was their defense that carried them. That Bulls team finished 20th in the league in points scored per game but were an elite defensive team. This year's team was one of the worst offensive teams in the league, but when Rose returns they should go back to being in the middle of the pack offensively.
What they need to do is recommit to being the best defensive team in basketball; they have a competitive advantage in the coaching and toughness departments and they need to capitalize on that.
Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli will be free agents and, while both guys came up big offensively in the playoffs, the Bulls should consider getting aggressive and going after a wing player that would take their defense to the next level. The dream acquisition for Chicago would be Andre Iguodala. With their current cap situation, they'd have to make a trade or use their amnesty (Boozer?), but just imagine Iguodala's perimeter defense alongside Deng with Noah protecting the paint. Iguodala apparently wants to go to a contender and he showed in these playoffs that he can provide a nice scoring punch too.
Besides Belinelli and Robinson, Daequan Cook, Nazr Mohammed, and Vladimir Radmanovic will all be unrestricted free agents as well.