Throughout the course of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls proved to be the best defensive team in the league. However, once the playoffs began against the Washington Wizards, the Bulls’ flaws were exposed across the board which resulted in a 4-1 series loss.
The first emphasis the Bulls must address is the small forward position. When Chicago traded Luol Deng in January, they were left with a void at the position and were forced to start bench player Mike Dunleavy at the three. While Dunleavy is an adequate small forward, he wasn’t equipped to play starters minutes coming into the season. The Bulls need to trade or amnesty Carlos Boozer, and possibility ship Dunleavy in order to sign Carmelo Anthony.
The next step would be to create some depth on the team. Head coach Tom Thibodeau was forced to go with a seven to eight man rotation for much of the season, for the most part because there wasn’t enough depth on the roster. Jimmer Fredette was brought in to help later in the season, but still didn’t know the offense well enough to get into the rotation. Signing Devin Harris could help the depth, but if he’s the only big name free agent the Bulls can land, the team will be in serious trouble. Adding big men such as Marcin Gortat, Spencer Hawes, or Kris Humphries wouldn’t hurt either.
Also, the Bulls didn’t really get a lot out of their rookies Tony Snell and Erik Murphy. Although Snell was able to crack the rotation at times, his inconsistent shooting on offense often led to him being benched. The Bulls need to use their first round picks wisely in the 2014 draft, and select a couple of rookies that could actually crack Thibodeau’s rotation, if that’s even possible. The Bulls currently have two first round picks at 16 and 19 in the draft.
Finally, Thibodeau and the Bulls need to open up the rotation if they do improve the roster. While Thibodeau was forced to play on seven or eight players throughout the season, he was also unwilling to rest much of his starters which led to tired bodies at the end of the year. Even if Thibodeau has to play guys he’s not sure about, he still has to give them a shot in order to rest players during the course of a 48-minute game.
If the Bulls can accomplish all of these tasks, they’ll be able to compete with any team in the league next season. It’s just a matter of getting it done now.