Wednesday , Jan , 26 , 2011 Paul Eide

How are the Bulls Winning? Five Reasons Why

With more than half of the season complete the Chicago Bulls are not only in first place of the Central Division, but have the largest division lead (13 games) of any NBA team. With free agent stud acquisition Carlos Boozer missing 15 games and resident stud Joakim Noah missing 21 and counting, how in the world are they winning?

Here are five reasons why: 
Tom Thibodeau
Thibodeau’s Bulls are 10-0 versus divisional opponents this season, a far cry from Bulls teams lead by Scott Skiles and Vinny Del Negro who could never consistently beat weaker foes or gain any separation in the standings. Under Thibodeau the Bills have finally stopped playing to the level of the competition and are beating teams they should which is why they are only 10 wins from matching their total from last year. If the Bulls can win 19 of their final 37 games, they will have their best season since 1997-98, the last Bulls championship team.
The success has been keyed by an improved defense which is Thibodeau’s calling card.  As an NBA coach for 21 years, 16 of his teams have ranked in the top ten in defense and his first season with the Bulls is no different. The Bulls are allowing the third lowest points per game (92.1), and holding opponents to the lowest field goal percentage (42.3) in the NBA.
Last year’s Bulls roster was filled with marginal talent and a lot of incongruent pieces. There was no true big man other than Noah (who didn’t bloom until the end of the year), a lot of guys who liked to shoot but weren’t great at it (John Salmons, Kirk Hinrich,) and a bunch of tweener forwards whose roles weren’t ever really defined or were just one dimensional (Hakim Warrick, Tyrus Thomas, James Johnson).The Bulls used a deep rotation because they had to; no one was producing consistently other than Derrick Rose. This year not only did they add depth, but everyone knows their role. Boozer is the all around low post threat. Kyle Korver comes off the bench when they need to score. Ronnie Brewer is a sparkplug who plays solid defense and can score in limited minutes. Not only is their more depth in 2010, but more talent.
Luol Deng
Believe it or not he is healthy and leads the Bulls in minutes (39.2). Deng has played in and started every game which puts him on pace for his first full season of action in five years.  Whether Thibodeau is using him as much as he can while his actually healthy remains to be seen.  Deng’s ability to score has been critical with Boozer and Noah missing time and taken pressure off of Derrick Rose to do it all by himself. An interesting wrinkle Deng has added to his game this year is three point shooting; Deng’s 65 three point makes so far this year already doubles his previous career high of 32 a year ago.
Derrick Rose
Is there anyone quicker in the NBA with the ball than Rose? Flashy moves and scoring prowess get the most attention, but Rose’s game has evolved in more subtle ways as well, especially his shooting. Compared to last season he has improved in every major statistical category; scoring average (up 3.8 ppg), three point percentage (up 11%), free throw percentage (up 5%), assists (up 2.1 per game). Rose has carried the Bulls at points this season with his offense, but his defensive contributions are equally important. As the “on the ball” defender in Thibodeau’s defensive scheme, Rose’s ability to be the Bulls defensive catalyst has as much to do with their success as he does on the offensive side and has fueled the fire of potential league MVP talk.
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