With the season starting tomorrow and the Chicago Bulls wrapping up the preseason with a perfect record. Every Chicago sports fan is asking the same question. How far can this team go?
They have their leader back in Derrick Rose, they brought in Mike Dunleavy to shoot the rock, and still have Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in the front court. Noah says that he is 100% for tomorrow against the Heat.
Da Windy City staff broke down what it would take for this team to make a long run next April.
1. With Derrick Rose back healthy now, how far can this Bulls team go? Will they be able to contend with the defending champion Miami Heat and the new look Brooklyn Nets?
Campbell: The Miami Heat aren’t going anywhere. The reason why the Heat might be better than ever is because of Greg Oden. Oden hasn’t played since 2009 and could be a difference maker if healthy. But the Nets? Are they allowed to have canes on the court? The Bulls are better than the Nets and are a notch above the Pacers.
Bender: Everyone knows the Heat are the team to beat. They always will be until proven otherwise. But before the Bulls can worry about challenging Miami, they first need to beat the Indiana Pacers, who very nearly beat the Heat themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Cain: If the Bulls can dodge the Chicago sports injury bug they will finish in the top four with the Heat, Nets, and Pacers.
Burn: After watching the preseason, if they Bulls can stay healthy they have a real shot at making a run at this thing. They’ll be up there at the end with the Heat, Pacers, and Nets.
2. How concerned are you guys about the health and status of Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich? Both of these guys are going to be contributors so having them is a must. Noah says he is 100%, what are your thoughts on that?
Campbell: Joakim Noah has a tremendous work ethic. In fact, when is the last time that Noah has played a game healthy? There is no need to really worry about Noah. As for Hinrich, his value this season will not be as important as it was last season. In fact, considering the team is trying to showcase Marquis Teague for a trade, Hinrich missing games early in the season may prove to benefit the team.
Bender: It appears that both Noah and Hinrich are 100% and ready to play, so with Rose, it appears that the Bulls will finally have a team at full-strength for the first time since you know what.
Cain: More concern with Noah as he is the spark plug for the team on defense. I do not think Noah is 100-percent maybe 80 at best but he will put on a show during the first week.
Burn: I don’t believe that Noah is 100%, but even if you can get 85% from him he is needed. Noah is the spark this team needs to contend with the top teams in the East. Marquis Teague has shown some promise in the preseason, so if Hinrich is out for a couple weeks it wouldn’t hurt the team.
3. What are the expectations that you have for the rookies Tony Snell and Erik Murphy? Snell was drafted in the first round and Murphy in the second. Do you expect either of these guys to contribute at all this year, if so, who and why?
Campbell: Snell will have the opportunity to contribute right away. Murphy needs some more development before being able to contribute. This may be a red-shirt season for Murphy.
Bender: Tom Thibodeau doesn’t traditionally play rookies much, and we’ve seen that the last couple years with the development of Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague. I believe they will crack the rotation eventually–next year–when the Bulls will have a much different team.
Cain: I think they both will contribute off the bench and if any injures surface. Snell will contribute more due to Hinrich’s health.
Burn: I don’t know about Murphy, but Tony Snell definitely has the ability to contribute right away. He’s a good shooter and has good size.
Prediction Time!! Tuesday @ Miami, Thursday vs. New York Knicks, Saturday @ Philadelphia
Campbell: Bulls spoil the ring ceremony for the Heat with a victory.
Rose shines in the Bulls first home game of the season against the Knicks, Bulls win.
Bulls complete the first week sweep with a victory over the 76ers.
Bender: Bulls sweep to start 3-0. Rose looked better than ever in the preseason, and I expect nothing less from him in his first official game in a year and a half. I believe Da Bulls will spoil the Heat’s banner ceremony and win 98-94.
On Halloween, Rose will be dressed as Michael Jordan and the Bulls will again win 103-96. And at Philly, there will surely be a revenge factor from that 2012 playoff series, and with the Sixers rebuilding, I don’t see how the Bulls can have a letdown.
Cain: Bulls lose by double digits with Rose scoring over 20 and Noah pulling down 10 rebounds.
Bulls win their home opener by eight against the Knicks. Noah will be able to slow down Stoudemire.
Bulls win by 15 against Evan Turner’s squad.
Burn: Bulls come up just short against the Heat in the opener.
Bulls take their home opener against the Knicks by double digits. Rose dominates with 30+ points.
Bulls coast past a terrible 76er team to wrap up the week.