After a tragic end to last season which forced the Bulls to make off-season moves and patch up the holes in their roster, many people have written the Bulls off for the 2012-2013 season. It is a tempting assumption since Derrick Rose will not be present on the court for most (if not all) of the season as he rehabs his knee. But, fans cannot lose hope as the Bulls are hungrier than ever this season and are out to prove critics wrong as they wait for the return of their star player.
Over the past two years the Bulls have once again become an elite NBA team coached by Tom Thibodeau and led by the explosive Derrick Rose. Chicago created a core group known for their depth with plenty of weapons waiting to unload off the bench. Although the team has some new faces and certainly lost some key bench players, they’re still an elite team who can compete in the Eastern Conference because their core is in tact despite their missing superstar. I’m here to tell you, ya gotta have faith!
With the official start of the Bulls 2012-2013 season tonight, it’s time for a last minute Bulls-brush-up. You may think you know your Chicago Bulls inside and out, but after saying goodbye to key members of the “Bench Mob” this off-season they’ve got a completely new supporting cast in the reserves this year. Here are the names you’ll need to know in 2012:
Bulls Starting 5
Luol Deng #9
Position: Small Forward (SF)
Behind Derrick Rose, Deng is the biggest star on the Bull’s roster and one of the best defensive players in the league. The Bulls need Deng to have another All-Star season producing plenty of points, assists and rebounds. With one of the longest wingspan in the NBA, Deng can be counted on for collecting rebounds.
Last season Deng faced a torn ligament in his left wrist that caused a bit of a headache. He chose to forego any kind of surgery in the off-season and played for his home country of Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics (he was born in Sudan, but his family fled and later moved to South London). Deng is an extremely talented basketball player, but we’re going to need more out of him while Rose nurses his knee.
Carlos Boozer #5
Position: Power Forward (PF)
Since being added to the roster in 2010, fans have been waiting for Boozer to play the quality of basketball he gets paid so handsomely for. Yes he may be overpaid, but Boozer is a power forward the team can count on to produce points. With Rose out, the Bulls will rely on Boozer to carry the offensive load. Without a red-hot Boozer, Chicago won’t have enough firepower to withstand the absence of Rose.
Joakim Noah #13
Position: Center (C)
Joakim Noah is most definitely a fan favorite in Chicago and we are happy to see he is healthy again after the season-ending ankle injury he sustained in the first round of the Playoffs. He may be the only man I respect who rocks a messy-bun. Never underestimate the #messybunswagger. Noah has more heart, enthusiasm and determination than most players in the league. He’s also one of the toughest players on the boards making him a rebounding beast and the defensive backbone of the Bulls. He’s worked hard this off-season, so be prepared for this guy to bring even more to the table offensively. He’ll being turning heads on both ends of the floor with his athleticism. Bring on the gun show!
Richard Hamilton #32
Position: Shooting Guard (SG)
Please, be sure you know this masked man. Better known as “Rip,” Hamilton knows what it takes to win a championship (just ask him about his days with the Detroit Pistons). His first year in Chicago was a rough one. He caught the injury bug early on and couldn’t shake it for the majority of the season. He may not be in his prime at the age of 34, but this guy can still produce the points the Bulls will need to be successful. If he can stay healthy, we believe he can deliver.
Kirk Hinrich #12
Position: Shooting Guard - will play Point Guard until D. Rose returns
With an injured starting point guard, the Bulls needed to find a seasoned veteran to fill the shoes of Derrick Rose. Chicago did so by luring “Captain Kirk” back to Chicago after drafting him in 2003 where he played his first seven seasons in the NBA. Since his departure from the Bulls, Hinrich bounced from the Washington Wizards and later to the Atlanta Hawks. The pickup of Hinrich was the most important for the Bulls this off-season as he is familiar with the team and will fit right in with Thibodeau’s defense. He just has to stay healthy, he’s already experienced two injuries throughout the preseason.
Taj Gibson #22
Position: Power Forward
One of the only returning members of last year’s “Bench Mob,” Taj Gibson is expected to do big things for the Bulls this season. This guy loves to come off the bench and immediately slam-dunk the funk. Gibson demonstrated his crucial role to the team during the first round of the playoffs last season – you couldn’t miss him because he was all over the court wreaking havoc! He proved he’s capable of producing points, but also a threat under the basket which is going to be essential this season for Bulls victories.
Marco Belinelli #8
Position: Shooting Guard
The Bulls picked up the 26-year-old sharp shooter from the New Orleans Hornets this off-season after they traded Kyle Korver (sigh) to the Atlanta Hawks. This Rocky Balboa look-a-like has a reputation of creating his own shot, but one rather HUGE downfall: he’s admittedly not the greatest defender. With a defensive-minded coach like Thibs, Belinelli better shape up on defense or he might be shipped out. We think Thibodeau can work his defensive magic.
Nate Robinson #2
Position: Point Guard
Nazr Mohammed #48
This Chicago native will bring veteran leadership to the Bulls bench. Many consider the Mohammed pickup a downgrade from Omer Asik who headed west to the Houston Rockets for a bigger pay check. The 14-year NBA veteran played for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season and gives 100 percent every time he’s on the floor. We think Thibodeau can work with that. Here’s to defying the skeptics this season Mohammed.
Jimmy Butler #21
Position: Small Forward
Coming off his rookie season, the Bulls are expecting depth and consistency in Butler throughout his second year. With the absence of Derrick Rose and the off-season trades he’s going to see quite a bit more playing time, which will give him more opportunities to produce for the Bulls. Butler is a solid defender and rebounds well, but he will need to be more effective with his shooting to give Chicago a better punch off the bench.
Marquis Teague #25
Position: Point Guard
This baby Bull was drafted out of the University of Kentucky last year. The Bulls know rookie Teague is a bit of a project, but with Hinrich’s health fluctuating and Rose out, Teague may see more playing time than anticipated. Hopefully he uses his time on the court this season to display his quickness and take advantage of some playing time in the NBA.
Vladimir Radmanovic #77
Position: Small Forward
Radmanovic has never been a head turner in the league, but he has the ability to be a solid player. Right now he’s working on proving himself to his new team to deserve legitimate playing time. Hopefully he can find his mojo, pick up his defensive game and give the Bulls his best NBA season yet.
Derrick Rose #1
Position: Point Guard
Derrick Rose is the heart, the soul and the future of the Chicago Bulls. When he collapsed on the court in pain during the first round playoff game against the 76ers the city’s heart shattered. Not a single player the Bulls picked up is comparable to the Chicago native’s scoring ability or overall athleticism.
There is no absolute timetable for Rose’s return. He told Rachel Nichols of ESPN that when the time comes he’ll know that he’s ready and that he can prove to his city that he’s here to play again, but there is no rush a full recovery is what’s essential, “Who knows when that time is? If it’s all year I might wait the whole year, so what? If I come back at the All-Star (break), so what?” We’re keeping our fingers crossed on a successful recovery and that he comes back better than ever when he’s ready.
Bulls Head Coach
Known as a defensive guru among the league, head coach Tom Thibodeau has proven he knows a thing or two about basketball. After a single year as head coach he won the 2011 Coach of the Year honor. He’s going to be a familiar face on the Chicago sidelines since he recently signed a 4-year contract extension with the Bulls. Chicago faced quite a bit of adversity this off-season and Thibodeau’s coaching talent will be put to the test this season.
Bombs away Bulls fans! The season starts tonight as the Bulls host the Sacramento Kings at the Madhouse on Madison. If trick-or-treating is not your thing, tickets can still be purchased for tonight’s opener or you can tune into the game at 7 PM on WGN.
There’s no doubt that the Bull’s have a challenging season ahead, but through thick and thin, the windy city loves their Chicago Bulls. With hard work, patience and a quick return from Derrick Rose, there is hope that the Bulls can continue their journey to greatness and bring Chicago back to their glory days of basketball.