Thursday , Oct , 19 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Chicago Bulls 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – Offseason transactions have catapulted the Chicago Bulls
to the top of the Eastern Conference. Expectations are high and the pressure
is on!

The Bulls were very active in the offseason and made some significant free
agent signings and trades. They also had excellent draft, which has suddenly
made them one of the favorites in the East.

Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, who was an unrestrictive free agent,
left Central Division-rival Detroit and signed a lucrative, multi-year
contract with the Bulls. A four-time All-Star, Wallace spent the past six
seasons with the Pistons and averaged 7.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.78 steals
and 2.21 blocks per game while playing all 82 regular-season games for the
Detroit during the 2005-06 campaign.

Wallace is an intimidating presence in the middle and will absolutely make the
Bulls a tougher and more physical team down low. His offensive skills have
never been on display in Detroit. And Chicago did not bring Wallace to the
Windy City to score, it wanted him for his toughness and not to mention by
signing him it hurts the Pistons big time.

Thirty-seven-year-old forward P.J. Brown was acquired as part of a trade from
the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets for Tyson Chandler. The 6-11 Brown also
adds veteran leadership to the Bulls. He registered 9.0 points and 7.3 boards
in 75 games for the Hornets last season.

The Bulls have also added LSU forward Tyrus Thomas, who was originally
selected with the fourth overall pick by Portland in a trade on draft night.
Chicago , which owned the 2nd and 16th overall picks when the 2006 NBA Draft
started, acquired the rights to Thomas and the contract of forward Viktor
Khryapa from the Trail Blazers for the rights to second overall selection
LaMarcus Aldridge and a future second round draft pick. The Bulls also
obtained the rights to Swiss star Thabo Sefolosha, who was picked at No. 13,
from the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to Memphis swingman Rodney Carney,
who Chicago selected at No. 16, a 2007 second round draft pick and cash
considerations.

Last season, the Bulls, who were the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference,
qualified for the playoffs for the second straight year. However, for the
second straight season Chicago was knocked out in the first round as the
eventual world champion Miami Heat won the best-of-seven series in six
contests. In the 2004 playoffs, the Washington Wizards also knocked out the
Bulls in six

The backcourt tandem of Ben Gordon and 25-year-old Kirk Hinrich had a strong
showing last season. The 23-year-old Gordon averaged a team-high 16.9 points
per game, while, Hinrich netted 15.9 and dished out a team-best 6.3 assists
per contest.

Forwards Andres Nocioni and Luol Deng did a solid job up front, as both of
them have blossomed into productive NBA players. Deng registered 14.3 points
and 6.6 rebounds in 78 games, while Nocioni scored 13.0 points and grabbed 6.1
boards in 82 contests.

Chicago has a solid roster mixed with veterans and youngsters. The Bulls have
players that work hard on defense and play team ball on the offensive end of
the court. This is a team that has been put together to win now.

BACKCOURT

Gordon and Hinrich give the Bulls a versatile backcourt. Both can play either
guard spot and are excellent outside shooters. Head coach Scott Skiles has to
feel good about his starting guards.

Chris Duhon is a competent backup point guard. The 6-1 Duhon is not an
offensive threat, but he is a decent defender and knows how to run an offense.
He averaged 8.7 points and 5.0 assists in 74 games during the 2005-06 season.

Free Agent Adrian Griffin signed with the team during the offseason. Last
season, the 32-year-old Griffin averaged 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 52
games for the Dallas Mavericks. Griffin, who played for Chicago during the
2004-05 campaign, was signed for his defensive ability. He will earn his
minutes at shooting guard and will also spend some time at small forward.

Sefolosha is athletic and is also know for his work on defense. He should get
some minutes during his rookie season, but will most likely learn from
watching Gordon and Hinrich do their thing.

FRONTCOURT

Brown, Deng, Nocioni and Wallace give the Bulls four strong forwards. Brown
and Wallace can play center and power forward, while Deng and Nocioni will
work at small forward.

Chicago hopes Wallace will be the same intimidating presence that he was for
the Pistons. Like Detroit, the Bulls will earn their victories with defense.
If Wallace can be the anchor that he was for six seasons in Detroit then the
Bulls are in excellent shape.

Thomas is raw and will get to know the NBA game from watching Wallace and
Brown. His impact will not be felt for a couple of years. But it should be
worth waiting for.

The Bulls frontcourt is athletic and will be extremely tough defensively. Deng
and Nocioni may have to pick up some more of the scoring load, but Chicago’s
frontcourt seems to be in excellent shape.

OUTLOOK

Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson has done a great
job putting the Bulls roster together. The offseason appears to have been
great, but the real test comes when Chicago takes the court and starts
battling teams like the Cavaliers, Heat and the Pistons.

Chicago should be able to rack up 50 wins during the regular season. A trip to
the conference finals is the goal here, but the Bulls still may be a year away
from achieving that.

CHI