Bulls Preseason outlook

by James Darby

Rebuild! Rebuild! Rebuild! That’s what Chicago Bull’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager John Paxson had a lot of Bull’s fan believing would be happening this offseason after last years disappointment in which the team went 42-40 under first year head coach Fred Hoiberg. The team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season and everyone in Chicago was expecting change and boy was there change. 
   First lets look at who has left the Bulls and how this will effect them. There is no longer any Derrick Rose who averaged 19.4 points a game last season. Derrick was traded to the New York Knicks along with Justin Holiday as it was simply time for Derrick to go. It seemed far to often last season that Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose could never get on the same page in the backcourt and could never really develop a chemistry that would work. What I believe was the biggest lost for the Bulls this season was Joakim Noah who decided to sign with the New York Knicks and rejoin Derrick Rose in the big apple. Joakim may have been starting to break down the last couple seasons as he only played in 29 games last season, a career low for him after a shoulder injury ended his season early but, still the fact that Joakim brought energy and great defense to every game he played in. He  showed how valuable he was to the Bulls and it will be missed on the this team this year. Also the lost of Pau Gasol who decided to sign with the San Antonio Spurs this offseason was a big blow for the Bulls. This was a guy that should have been traded at last years trade deadline. Not to the fact that he wasn’t any good as he did average 16.5 points along with 11 rebounds. The Bulls should have traded Pau knowing he was going to leave in the offseason, so why not try to get something in return for the big Spaniard. Also leaving the Bulls was Mike Dunleavy who was this teams three-point specialist, as in his 3 year career in Chicago, Dunleavy shot 39 percent from behind the arc. Dunleavy, who was traded to the defending champion Cavaliers will surely be missed as it showed last season he was missed after only playing in 31 games and the Bulls not being able to really knock down the three’s. 
   If I told you at the beginning of the offseason that the Bulls were going to part ways with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and Mike Dunleavy you would probably be thinking this team was going to go through the rebuilding phase but that is not the case this season. The Bulls made some quality additions this offseason in my opinion and here’s why. With Derrick Rose being traded the Bulls needed a quality point guard. I feel the Bulls got one in signing Rajon Rondo who last season lead the NBA in assist with 11.7 dimes a game. Rondo is a veteran of the NBA who will dribble a lot but in the end usually finds an open man and in this case were hoping he finds Jimmy butler or Dwayne Wade. That’s right Dwayne Wade, it still sounds funny to me that Dwayne Wade is a Chicago Bull as I just though he would spend his entire career in South Beach Miami, but like many others I was wrong. Dwayne is actually coming off one of his best seasons in a long time as he played in 74 games, the most for him since the 2010-11 season.  While Wade may be nearing the end of his career, I still think this was a good move as the Bulls are bringing in a man who knows how to score, can play solid defense as he averaged at least a steal per game, and most importantly Wade can be great mentor to some of the younger Bulls on this squad. Now when you look at what the Bulls got in return from New York for the Derrick Rose trade it may have you scratching your head but, it was a pretty solid trade that should help this team. The Bulls got three players in return in the form of: Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, and Jose Calderon. You don’t have to worry about Calderon as he was traded shortly after to make cap space for Dwayne Wade so lets focus in on Lopez and Grant. Robin Lopez should fit nicely into what the Bulls need from their center. Having Rondo, Wade, and Butler running the offense, Robin Lopez shouldn’t have to worry too much about scoring but rather focus on getting his defense. Lopez averaged 7.3 rebounds last season and 1.6 blocks which was the 16th most in the NBA. If Lopez focus more on defense he can see his blocks and rebounds go up which would be a huge boost for the Bulls defensively. Jerian Grant is an interesting addition to the Bulls squad. Grant struggled at the beginning of the season for the Knicks but towards the end he showed some of the skills that got him drafted 19th overall in the 2015 draft. Grant will be coming of the bench and should be able to help out on both sides of the ball but will need to improve his 22 percent three-point shooting if he wants a steady minutes. Last but not least don’t forget who the Bulls drafted with the 14th overall pick this season. Denzel Valentine out of Michigan State Averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 assist, and 7.5 rebounds as a senior for the Spartans. I feel the Bulls got a steal with that pick as Denzel looks to play a decent role in his first season with the Bulls. If he has a good preseason look out for Valentine to be in the rotation of the bench more often which could be huge for the Bulls. 
    This has been one of the most interesting offseason for the Bulls in a long time as there will be a lot of new faces on this team with some returning veterans who have been on the squad for a few years now. It’s all up to Fred Hoiberg and his coaching staff to try and make this roster work. Certain Players will need to step up. Taj Gibson looks like he could be a full-time starter for the first time in his career and will need to average more then his 6.9 points per game if wants to keep the starting job. There is no real thee-point threat on this team but, it would be nice to see Doug Mcdermott step-up and play the role of Mike Dunleavy this season. Either way I see this team having one of two types of season. The first one is that the Bulls will surprise people and be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, or they will be a bigger mess then Jerry Reinsdorf’s  other team he owns.

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