By Andrew Pappas @AndrewPappas24 on July 30, 2014
The Bulls have made some very impressive moves in free agency. No, they did not land Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James, but they did bring over Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. The team is set to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown, but fans still have a few things to be apprehensive about. Here they are.
The Bulls probably need to sign another big man. While Joakim Noah is the reigning defensive player of the year, he struggled against Nene in their playoff series against the Wizards. The Bulls have some height, but not enough strength in their frontcourt. Gasol and Mirotic will help on offense, but on the defensive end, they will struggle guarding stronger bigs. Noah and Taj Gibson will have to man up and conquer this issue.
After his late-season surge in 2012, Bulls fans thought Jimmy Butler was the shooting guard of the future for their team. While he has gotten stronger and continued to be a defensive menace, his offensive game is still painfully limited. Butler is an athletic freak, so backdoor alley-oops and put-back dunks have come to be expected. But he shot under 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from three last season, numbers that must improve.
Fans have grown tired of Thibodeau’s pedal-to-the-metal style. Bulls players consistently lead the league in minutes and have even set records for minutes played. This is an issue come playoff time, because players are burnt out. This has been evident in each of Thibs’ four seasons with the Bulls. With Derrick Rose returning from injury and the aging Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, fans need to see a more refined coaching style in Chicago this season.
Gasol is a nice piece, as are Mirotic and Doug McDermott, but even with these impressive additions to the team, the Bulls still lack a second guy that they can give the ball to and say “GO!” The pursuit of Carmelo Anthony had some Bulls fans thinking their man was on the way, but the team fell short and are left with Rose as their only off-the-dribble scoring threat.
Rose has looked great at the start of Team USA’s minicamp, but he also looked great in practices heading into last season. Making Team USA (I’m almost certain he will) is vital to Rose’s progression. Getting competitive games in before the NBA season starts will help him stop thinking and just play the game. If Rose stays healthy, the Bulls will contend. If not, another first-round exit is in their future.
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