Top 5 Players to Watch for the Chicago Bulls
5 Bulls Players to Watch in 2013-14
The Chicago Bulls enter the 2013-14 season with some questions. In 2011, the Bulls finished with the best record in the NBA, and their star player, Derrick Rose, became the youngest MVP in league history. The Bulls lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, though, and basketball fans eagerly awaited a rematch in 2012. That rematch still hasn’t happened, though, as Rose tore his ACL in the first round of the 2012 playoffs and missed last season entirely.
This year, Bulls fans are eager to finally get a rematch with their team at full strength, but a lot has changed since 2011. The Bulls have plenty of intriguing new faces, and Rose is poised to enter his prime, as long as he stays healthy. They will also face stiffer competition as the Indiana Pacers have established themselves as a legitimate Eastern Conference power with the emergence of their own young superstar, a game changing big man, and a retooled bench.
Some of the most intriguing storylines for Bulls fans this year will be the future of their players. The Bulls face tough decisions after this year, and many consider this to be the last opportunity for the core of Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah to win a championship together. Both Deng and Boozer may be gone next year or even some time this year depending on the team’s performance and available deals. Fans should also watch as the Bulls’ young players try to crack Coach Tom Thibideau's rotation and Derrick Rose attempts to reassert his dominance as the best point guard in the league.
Here are the top five Bulls players fans should watch this season.
5. Marquis Teague
Marquis Teague hasn’t impressed during preseason play after having some awesome performances in summer league action. He is a fast point guard with great length for his 6-foot-2 frame, but he isn’t a great shooter or finisher. It will be interesting to see how the Bulls use him going forward. With Rose and Kirk Hinrich ahead of him on the depth chart, he’s likely to spend another season getting limited minutes, but he’ll certainly have opportunities to show his stuff. Teague isn’t as shot happy or irrationally confident as Nate Robinson, but like Robinson he plays a fast paced game, which could potentially devastate slower second units or tired first units late in games. Using Teague as an energy guy off the bench could be a great move for the Bulls if he proves he’s up to it this year.
4. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler earned a lot of fans during last year’s playoffs with his stellar defense, timely three pointers, and heavy minutes. Many believe Butler will have a breakout year in 2013 and become the missing piece the Bulls have needed at shooting guard. It is important to remember that even though Butler stepped up big in the playoffs, he averaged just 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds in 26 minutes per game in the regular season. It’s a little premature to call Butler the answer just yet, but a Rose-Butler backcourt should be entertaining to watch. Fans should be excited to see if Butler can live up to the hype because he just may.
3. Mike Dunleavy Jr.
The Bulls added shooter Mike Dunleavy Jr. in free agency this year, addressing a huge need as the Bulls finished 29th in three pointers made last season. Dunleavy will help with that without sacrificing defense, as he is a surprisingly good defender with a long frame and a high basketball IQ. If Dunleavy can come in and drain threes, it should help space the floor and give the Bulls a needed offensive boost. While his overall game isn’t as good as Marco Bellinelli, the player he is essentially replacing, his skills should be better suited to the Bulls’ play.
2. Tony Snell
Coach Tom Thibideau has a reputation for not playing rookies. It’s hard to imagine him changing this season and Tony Snell will likely only see playing time in blowouts or dire situations, but it will still be fun to see what he can do. The rookie swingman out of the University of New Mexico has a game that should fit very well into the Bulls’ system. Snell played with Kawhi Leonard in high school, and many scouts and fans compare the two’s play. Like Leonard, Snell is a lockdown defender who can hit the three and get rebounds. He played well in Summer League, but it’s hard to make anything of that, especially since he hasn’t impressed in NBA preseason play so far. Still, no one is expecting him to make an immediate impact, so watch Snell to see how he improves and adjusts to the NBA game.
1. Derrick Rose
When he was healthy, Derrick Rose was one of the most exciting and best players in the game. Now Bulls fans are praying that now healthy Rose can regain his explosiveness earn the team’s first championship since 1998. Rose has looked good in preseason play, driving fearlessly and with a devastating first step. Bulls fans collectively panicked when Rose sat out of the team’s preseason game against the Washington Wizards with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, but the move was just a precautionary measure in a game where the outcome didn’t really matter. Rose should play in the team’s meaningful games this season, and if he returns to form Bulls games will once again be some of the league’s most exciting matchups.