When the Chicago Bulls play the Washington Wizards in the post season one thing is certain, and that’s just 4 months ago no one could’ve envisioned this team being where it is today. There are some experts who are picking them to win the East. That in itself seems insane, but in reality isn’t at all. It’s actually a possibility. Of course many factors would have to take place for that to occur which makes it unlikely, but there is a conceivable scenario where that can happen. A lot of that credit has to go to the players, and the coach of the team Tom Thibodeau, but the real credit goes to the often maligned front office, particularly current GM Gar Forman, and former GM Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson. It may be time to give them the love they rightfully deserve.
A lot of people have been quick to credit Thibodeau for coaching up a less than star-laden roster, but is the talent on the team really that bad? I would argue no, and management has done an amazing job putting it together. Of course Thibodeau deserves a lot of the credit, but lets not forget who hired him. Thibodeau is a guy who coached 20 plus years before being given a chance so it wasn’t exactly a no-brainer hire. Also management has to acquire players to fit Thibodeau’s system, who can prosper under his coaching style and tutelage. Let’s look at how this roster was constructed.
First lets go back to the Scott Skiles days. Players Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Joakim Noah, Chris Duhon, Thabo Sefolosha, Omer Asik were drafted, and having them become hits is a testament to the front office’s scouting abilities. These weren’t sure fire lottery picks. The Bulls hit percentage on draft picks is well above league average. Especially considering how far down they have picked for the most part. I know people want to bring up La’Marcus Aldridge being traded for Tyrus Thomas, but the best of all time have had their failures as well. Even then they flipped him to acquire what has now turned into the 16th pick in this year’s draft which is being lauded as the deepest in years. There were other misses like, James Johnson, and Marquis Teague, but you can understand those choices as both were extremely good athletes, and not much better were behind them.
The picks that are currently on this roster came from even further down the draft aside from Bulls PG and former MVP Derrick Rose who went number one overall. Of course they lucked into that pick, but they did make the right choice. They could’ve gone with Mike Beasley. There were a lot of media members pounding the table for him. Than you can look at the hits they got from way down in the draft. Taj Gibson was not only a late first, but 24 years old coming out. Jimmy Butler was at the end of the first, and it looks like Tony Snell will be a keeper going forward as well. Let’s not forget oversea’s star Nikola Mirotic who has been compared to Dirk Nowitzki by some.
They have been equally as good in picking up free agents and waiver claims. They built one of the all time best benches in league history in Thibodeau’s first two seasons. Acquiring minimum priced vets like C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and Tim Thomas. Last season they acquired afterthought players in Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, and they wound up being well above replacement value members of a team that surprised everyone last season. They beat the highly favored New Jersey Nets in the first round in relatively easy fashion. Then gave the Heat all they could handle after bowing out in 5 games, with all but one game in that series being close and competitive. This season it’s D.J. Augustin as the latest buy low cast off to give the Bulls well above market value, and likely made himself a lot of money this coming off season with his surprise performance. I think it’s time we all give GarPax and their scouting staff along with the coaching staff they hired to bring all these pieces along their just due. If they bring Mirotic over and he’s what many feel he is, and they acquire a vet in a trade or free agency who can provide scoring and some ball handling ability, this may be the next top power in the East for years to come.