Last year's record? 41-41, lost in the first round.
Projected record, as predicted three months ago in time to publish in Yahoo! Sports' NBA Preview Magazine? 49-33
Why I think that sounds about right?
Depth, and a roster that could be greater than the sum of its parts with the right style of coaching, could see this team elbowing its way toward 50 wins.
If the health is there (and we're beyond dealing with Carlos Boozer at this point and into discussing the work of Taj Gibson(notes) and Joakim Noah(notes)) a smartly run Bulls team with ever-increasing offensive options and a sticky defense that moves its feet could load up on wins against lesser opponents while holding its own against the big boys. Then, as April rolls around, 50 wins might not seem super-laughable.
Especially if Derrick Rose(notes) continues to improve, Luol Deng(notes) hits his stride as he enters his prime, Noah can give the team 70 games at 35 minutes per game, and Boozer shows up in early December as if nothing ever happened.
Why I think I might be terribly, terribly wrong?
The original prediction was made while thinking that Carlos Boozer would have to miss some games with his 32 hamstring pulls per season, but the idea that he's going to be out for at least the first month of the regular season with an injury to his shooting hand scares me a bit.
What if he's off for the entire season? What if that stroke needs a summer to rehabilitate? What if he has a hard time dribbling, or worse, has no confidence in that shooting stroke or ability to put the ball on the floor? What if this is a wasted season?
The Bulls, with Gibson, Noah, Asik, Kurt Thomas -- and even Luol Deng at the big forward position -- have the depth to work around Boozer's fulminations. But how long can you circle the wagons with Boozer? The Utah Jazz managed pretty well for a few years, but they had Paul Millsap(notes) in reserve. The Bulls? They've barely met the guy.
Dan Devine's Corner Three
Advanced Statrick Ewing
Last year, the Bulls ranked 10th in the league in defensive efficiency (third in the Central Division, behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers), holding opponents to 102.6 points per 100 possessions, which was pretty good, because there are, like, 30 or so teams in the NBA. The thing is, they were 28th in the league (and dead last in the Central) in offensive efficiency, scoring just 100.8 points per 100 possessions, which is pretty bad, because the only two teams with worse per-possession scoring numbers were the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost 67 games, and the New Jersey Nets, who lost 70.
The infusion of offensive talent from Utah -- Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, who finished last season with the Memphis Grizzlies, all posted Offensive Ratings (a rough individual equivalent of that team per-100 number) of 110 or better last season -- and the more agile offensive philosophy that new coach Tom Thibodeau brought with him from the Boston Celtics bench should boost the Bulls' offensive efficiency, even with Boozer on the shelf for a bit. Pair that with the defensive pluses (the team didn't lose any irreplaceable contributors on that side of the ball, they've still got the presence of Luol Deng on the perimeter and Joakim Noah in the paint, and Thibodeau's a wizard of a defensive coordinator) and LeBron James'(notes) choice to bring his skills (or Decision to take his talents, whichever) outside the Central, and the Bulls look to have the makings of a contender.
I know, right?
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