Does anybody remember when the Chicago Bulls were 12-18 and tanking seemed like the only logical answer to their season?
It’s pretty hard to remember all the way back to those first couple depressing months of the season, especially considering how vastly different January, February and now March have been. And it’s all just remarkable how they’re able to get the job done night in and night out.
There is no greater example of team-first basketball in any league or level of the game than the Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah-led Bulls.
Truly, try and find me a team that gets more out of its lack of talent. Sure, the San Antonio Spurs play great as a team, but there’s no question they’re more talented — much more. Same goes for the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and really any of the squads that are higher in the standings.
However, the Bulls — without their only real scorer on the team in Derrick Rose — continue to win. It’s rarely pretty, but it’s admirable and respectable because they get it done together. Nobody on that team has an ego. Nobody isn’t willing to pass it to the open man. Nobody isn’t willing to listen to their coach.
Just look at tonight, for example, and a perfect one at that because they played against a team that is the epitome of not playing well together and lacks any type of continuity. They took on the Detroit Pistons on the road. With players like Brandon Jennings, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith, you would think they would be able to win some games. However, they’re only 24-37 on the year, and the Bulls dispatched of them down the stretch, 105-94, with ease because of their fantastic defense and ability to share the ball.
Chicago had six players in double figures in D.J. Augustin (24 points), Jimmy Butler (18), Taj Gibson (16), Carlos Boozer (10), Noah (10) and Kirk Hinrich (10). The Bulls shot an excellent 53.4 percent from the field, and what really stands out in the box score even more so than that is the fact that only one player shot under 50 percent from the floor — Augustin went 6-for-13, which is still a solid 46.2 percent. What this means is that no one on their team was taking bad shots. Everybody was moving the ball, setting screens for each other and turning good defense into easy buckets.
Just imagine the Bulls if Rose wasn’t hurt and this team had a true No. 1 scorer to get them going in rough patches or in the clutch. Of course, consequently, Luol Deng wouldn’t have been traded in this scenario either, and with those two guys, the Bulls would’ve been the scariest team in the league right now with the way they’re playing.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, but if you think there’s a team out there that takes the court against Chicago and feels good about their chances right now, you’d be mistaken. Its opponents know that if they want to win, they’re going to have to play as well as the Bulls collectively and that’s just not easy to do on a consistent basis — that is, if you’re not the team from the Windy City.
While the Bulls have risen up the standings and now sit at 34-27 after a dreadful start to the season (22-9 in 2014), they’re still likely to be knocked out of the playoffs in the first or second round of the playoffs this year. But it won’t be for a lack of effort or togetherness, it’ll simply be a lack of talent — which the front office will hopefully fix this offseason. Perhaps then, this team will be considered legitimate championship contenders once again like they deserve to be.