Oh-oh-oh, look we’re half way there… By now Bulls fans are used to the emotional roller coaster that has been the past two years, search but our guys have pleasantly overcome the obstacles thrown their way, and yet again.
Entering the 2013-2014 season Chicago was an absolute “title contender” with a healthy Derrick Rose. The team’s dreams were blown to smithereens when DRose went down with a second season-ending knee injury. Then just two months later, the front office shipped off sharp shooter Luol Deng to Cleveland. No matter how deep their pride was wounded, the Bulls came out swinging with the emotional intensity of Joakim Noah leading the way.
Much to our surprise, the Bulls start the second half of the season sitting in fourth place among the beasts of the East and are just shy of snatching the third seat at 27-25. Chicago has gone 15-7 in 2014 – only three teams have a better record since January 1st and they’re all in the big bad Western Conference. We’ve got 30 games to go and if the men in red can keep up the intensity down the stretch there is definitely reason for optimism.
ALL-STAR STATUS: JOAKIM NOAH
Jo-No is wreaking havoc in 2014. To say he’s found his “edge” is an understatement of the damage he’s done offensively and defensively. He goes out night after night and plays 100% guts and glory. More than ever before he is the heart of this Bulls team and the future of this NBA franchise. Losing Luol Deng was personal for Joakim Noah, it was like he lost his big brother, but his loss seemed to have spark a fire in the belly of the Jo-No bear.
Bet ya didn’t Noah he’s averaged 13.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 blocks since Jan. 1 – “double-double” is basically his middle name. He recently appeared in his second All-Star game and looked lost because the studs of the NBA we’rent playing at a normal intensity. He found himself again when BronBron decided to light things up with Noah under the basket. If you love Chicago basketball, you are crazy about Joakim Noah this year. Messy-bun-swagger has swept the nation.
Taj Gibson is an easy candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. He’s taken his game to an entirely new level this season and we don’t mind one bit. He signed a hefty contract with the Bulls in 2012 and really never got into his groove. He took the off-season to work with the big dogs and it has paid off. When you get Jo-No and Taj on the court at the same time you have one of the most terrifying defensive units the NBA has to offer. Gibson has been so huge he’s the one on the court in the fourth quarter battling opponents, so much so Carlos Boozer got a little jealous and threw a pitty party about getting benched come the end of games.
D.J. Augustin has a renewed NBA career. Prior to being traded to the Bulls in December most of the league said “Augustin who?” I would guess most of the Toronto Raptors’ fans didn’t know the guy was even on the roster. He was a pickup during a time Chicago was desperate for a point guard after losing Rose and Augustin would work out “fine.” With a little Tom Thibodeau fairy dust Augustin has become a dominant player in the Windy City. When Kirk Hinrich is healthy (which is hit or miss) Augustin comes off the bench as a play maker as well as an outside scoring threat. We’ve needed a three-point shooting monster since the days of Kyle Korver.
ROUGH SPOTS AVERTED:
Just a month ago my Facebook feed was filled with statuses about the Bulls tanking their season on purpose. “Just blow the season and get a great lottery pick.” Well friends, if you haven’t noticed “tanking” and “Thibodeau” are like water and oil, it just doesn’t mix. After losing Rose and trading Deng the Bulls were in a rough place, but they recommitted to their defensive mindset and started playing basketball the only way they know how – down and dirty.
Their main weakness is the depth of their bench. When their starters are healthy (Noah, Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy) the Bulls can generally find their rhythm. With Taj, Augustin and rookie Tony Snell continuously coming off the bench lights out the Bulls can stay powerful throughout the game. Problem is, after those eight players things get a really hairy. Eight players aren’t enough to keep things going one experiences an injury and is forced to miss playing time.
OFF THE COURT:
Basically there’s no reason to feel sorry for Mr. Rose. Although he hasn’t played a full season in two years, DRose’s brand is stronger than ever. Forbes just ranked the top 10 NBA endorsers and our very own Derrick Rose came in third just behind Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. Rose will have made over $21 million in endorsements over the last year. Combine that with the $17.6 million he’ll bring in from his Bulls contract and Rose will be sitting pretty at $39 million for the year. He’s single ladies, that’s all I’m saying.
They may not be title contenders this season, as it’s unlikely Los Bulls will be able to defeat the top two teams in the Eastern Conference (Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers) in a seven-game series, but they’re a hungry bunch who want to prove all those fans wrong who started guzzling Chicago Bulls-Hater-ade the second DRose went down. So ask yourself, if Joakim Noah and his crew aren’t giving up, why should we? Bring on the second half!