Will Rose and Chicago build on their playoff run against Boston or fall off in 2010?
A successful season hinges on the organization’s young core progressing. This process begins and ends with super-sophomore Derek Rose continuing to be Chicago’s best player since you-know-who retired and then, regrettably, unretired to join those Washington Wizards …
Every day until the regular season begins, HoopsVibe the Blog will ask and answer an important question facing each of the NBA’s thirty teams. Weigh-in with thoughts on our Key Questions feature in the comment box below.
Today’s team: Chicago Bulls.
Key Question: Will Chicago build on last year’s playoff against the Boston Celtics or fall-off in 2010?
The Quick Answer: For years, Ben Gordon polarized fans.
Some saw him as a dynamic scorer, capable of dropping big numbers and even bigger shots. Others felt his size was a liability -on offence, he could never be a legit first-option and, on defense, opponents would take to him to the block to create mismatches.
Chicago management was also split on Gordon. At times, they tried to lock him up long-term by offering multi-year contracts worth big money. At other points, management seemed to be pushing the former ‘Sixth Man of the Year’ out the door.
The Gordon saga finally ended when, as a free agent, he signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Detroit Pistons in July. Here’s the question: what happens next in Chicago?
A successful 2010 hinges on the youngsters learning from last year’s playoff duel with the Celtics. This process begins and ends with super-sophomore Derrick Rose continuing to be Chicago’s best player since you-know-who retired and then un-retired to join those Washington Wizards.
Rose has many tools: size, athleticism, the ability to score, and a feel for the game. He’ll grow with experience provided he avoids the trappings of stardom. Look for John Salmons, a player with potential, to inherit Gordon’s off-guard spot. If Salmons struggles, veterans Kirk Hinrich and Jannero Pargo can fill in.
The front-court is unsettled. Luol Deng has to return to health and, on this offensively challenged squad, score and create mismatches. Deng is focused on recovering, but long-term he’d be wise to extend his range and diversity his offensive repertoire.
It’s now or never for Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas. Noah, after a so-so regular season, averaged a double-double in the playoffs and this should be the norm. Thomas, a gifted athlete, has to tap into his immense potential if he wants an extension.
While Noah and Thomas usually perform on defense, the Bulls need one, or both, of their young posts to develop offensively and command attention from perimeter defenders. Steady Brad Miller will provide depth and can log more minutes if Noah or Thomas falter.
Prediction: The defense will be good. However, a playoff spot in the much-improved Eastern Conference depends on Chicago getting regular scoring from two or three players not called Rose.
Sound off: What’s up with Chicago in 2010? Get at us with thoughts in the comment box below. Follow Oly Sandor on HoopsVibe and Twitter. Photo courtesy of hanneorla.