Miami is going to go into the 2013-14 season as the heavy favorite for the NBA title. The question is going to be whether anyone can challenge them along the way. The Miami Heat are going to open up their schedule against a Derrick Rose led Chicago Bulls. Miami is really going to have three challengers in the East this year. For this article I am going to profile each one of them and show why the Nets may be the only real true contender in the East.
First up we have the Chicago Bulls to discuss. They lost Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson and gained the small forward in Mike Dunleavy Jr. The Bulls last year were a one dimensional team. A team long known for their defense, their defense struggled mightily at times with new people in the Bulls system such as Belinelli and Robinson. Their weaknesses of on ball defense showed up multiple times where the Bulls were forced to have Jimmy Butler defend a smaller two guard or point guard. The Bulls are coming into this season with the expectation of at least making the Eastern Conference Finals. Lets look at their roster from start to finish here. They are going to have three point guards , Derrick Rose, Marquis Teague and Kirk Hinrich. Teague still has to learn how to run an offense . His game is very turnover prone , and in coach Tom Thibadeau’s system that just does not work. He needs to learn pace management. Being able to press he can do. Fast break yes….. running long offensive sets where he will run of the ball …NO !!!
The Bulls do not have a real shooting guard, so were going to just go with wing players here. We have three of value and that is Jimmy Butler / Luol Deng/ and the new addition Mike Dunleavy Jr. The Bulls are going into this season with a rejuvenated Derrick Rose. What that will mean in the opening game is yet to be determined . Deng is the glue that holds this team together. If he gets injured or struggles the Bulls are going to struggle to even make the playoffs. Jimmy Butler is listed as a SG/SF but he is really a two guard. Whenever he would have to defend a bigger two guard or small forward he tended to struggle. The new addition to the Bulls in Dunleavy is not going to have a difficult job. Go the wings and shoot the ball. Hit the corner 3. Run off a double screen and shoot the open jumper.
The bigs are four players that are Taj Gibson / Joakim Noah/ Carlos Boozer/ and Nazr Mohammad. Mohammad is a waste of space nothing more or less. His job is just to eat minutes from the other bigs . Taj Gibson has two tasks for this upcoming year. The first is to be the defensive anchor coming off the bench. Every team needs someone that can make that key block when you need it. The second and probably bigger part of his game is to improve his mid range jumper. It is average at best and he needs to be able to constantly hit an 18 foot jump shot for them to succeed. Carlos Boozer needs to be tough. He needs to command the ball every time in the post. He needs to stop shooting fadeaways and attack the basket. Joakim Noah is the heart of the Bulls. The key for him is to just be on the floor and not be injured. He needs to avoid plantar fasciitis and other random injuries.
The Bulls can achieve a #2 or #3 seed quite easily if they stay healthy. If they are not healthy they will be lucky to make the playoffs. This is the make or break year for Luol Deng. I still think that the Bulls will amnesty Carlos Boozer’s contract and release him. That will be in the Bulls best interest and allow the Bulls to bring in the wing player they need to win a title.