Bulls a story of stalled promise
Okay. Name the NBA team that destroyed the champion Miami Heat in this year’s season opener by record points in their house and you have a young team that continues to wreak havoc on the rest of the NBA.
That team, the up-and-down Chicago Bulls, is at a crossroads, perched to break through to the top level of NBA champion caliber teams. In fact, a chorus of observers say all that prevents them from getting there is their lack of an inside power forward to pair up with Ben Wallace in sealing the low post.
The Bulls face a dilemma. Should they remain focused on their stifling defense and explosive small-guard based offense, and stay on their snail’s path to the top of the above-average but improving category? This feels like a five-year plan.
Or on the other hand, if the Chicago Bulls and their fans prefer the high life, then they can go find a dominating low post big man like Pau Gasol. That, plus the continued development of Deng, Gordon, Thabo and Tyrus Thomas should put the Bulls in the NBA Finals saddle within two years.
Of course, the same thing could have been said back in the day in the 1990’s, when Phoenix, Utah and Portland were perched to grab their respective NBA trophies, yet were all somehow stymied in the Finals by the relentless MJ-led Bulls and never got past them. So there are never guarantees in this business.
Far from a guaranteed success, the Chicago Bulls have been up and down all year, from looking listless against division foe Indiana to destroying Dallas and Miami in succession this week.
What had been at its best a potent balanced Bulls attack and suffocating defense has slipped at times into a one-dimensional attack that lives and dies by the jump shot and trey. It has hurt that players such as Nocioni regularly fall in love with their own array of shots instead of setting up teammates and spreading out opponents’ defenses. Turnovers have been another culprit. And finishing off Bulls’ opponents when they have a decent lead is on the list.
The Magnificent Five
The Bulls’ starting five, which changes, stands like this: Kirk Hinrich at the point and Ben Gordon at shooting guard, with Duhon now coming off the bench; Luol Deng starts at small forward, Ben Wallace was at center and Nocioni at power forward. Now, with Ben Wallace confined to the bench for a while with a strained knee, P.J. Brown is holding down center, with the tough Noce at the 4 spot and the explosive Tyrus T. coming off the bench to spell him.
You Want Talent?
The Bulls’ touted talents read like a college all-star list from the last several years: super-defender Kirk Hinrich, explosive scorer Ben Gordon, long leaper Thabo, tough and versatile Nocioni, 5-tool weapon Lu Deng, who is turning into go-to performer before our eyes. When we see Tyrus Thomas, we can hardly believe our eyes at the dominating quality basketball instincts and off the charts athleticism being honed to fit like a last puzzle piece in the Bulls championship synergy. Sefalosha Thabo already plays like a Scotie Pippen with MJ qualities and is handling his pro assignments well. The plan should be to move Thabo into Duhon’s spot and get him more minutes in his rehearsal for starting next year.
Pax? “Oops! We forgot…we need a big man….”
What inquiring basketball minds should be inquiring about is why Paxon did not draft Lamarcus Aldridge and keep the pick and we would have the inside post solved with Aldridge and Wallace. Also, Wallace is almost a luxury. We needed a big man in the post above all last summer and did not solve it with Wallace. A trade was probably in order. Now the Bulls are actively looking and were said to be in touch with the Memphis Grizzlies’ Jerry West. It was further alleged that Pax had offered Ben Gordon and PJ Brown plus the first round pick for Gasol.
Not enough, says Jerry West. We want Deng in the deal as well. Yeah, right, goes Pax. Ciao, baby!”.
Don’t Want to Work on Maggie’s Farm No More…A Vik Khryapa Sighting!
Inexplicably, the Bulls have the multi-talented forward Viktor Khryapa laying an egg on the bench while suffering from a lack of tough big men to play inside. In tough coach Skiles’ system you work your way back into the rotation through hard work in practice. All say Viktor works hard, yet despite all the things Vik does on D as well as offense, Skiles still wants him working on Maggie;s farm, sitting on the bench while the more one-dimensional Malik Allen (good for quick pull-up jumpers) and Sweets Sweetney labor on the floor. Viktor finally got a few stretches out there when PJ was out and now with Wallace out, should get some more time on the floor.
It is generally assumed that a trade of PJ, Khryapa and the pick would fetch the Bulls a decent low post man to control the post, defend, block and score. Duhon would be expendable, as well, especially if the Bulls could get a guard back with the forward. For example, Stromile Swift and Kevin Lowry and Memphis’ second round pick for P.J. Brown, Chris Duhon and Viktor Khryapa plus the Bulls’ first round pick. (If that pick goes lottery, the lottery quality is lost if the pick is transferred as part of a trade).
The Bulls head out for their dreaded western trip. There are no easy games out there. The Bulls, while dominating at home, have a lousy record on the road. Winning road games will do marvels for the Bulls and give them first place in their division.
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