Bullets Fever

A blog and community website for the Washington Wizards and their fans.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Analyzing the Competition

Like Washington, many people expected Chicago to take a step back last year after surprising in 2004/05 with 47 wins. After all, there was something about that Bulls team in 05 that made you wonder how they were so good, compounded by the fact that their expected won-loss record was 44-38. In the offseason, Chicago gave Tyson Chandler lots of money to stay put and traded Eddy Curry to the Knicks for Michael Sweetney, Tim Thomas, and a series of unprotected draft picks. Chicago struggled for most of the year to recapture the magic of 2004/05, and were sitting 9 games under .500 with only 11 left to play. After that, though, Chicago may have been the hottest team in basketball, as they won 10 of those last 11 games to finish 41-41 and get the 7th seed in the playoffs, where they gave Miami all they could handle before falling in six games. After a busy and productive offseason, expectations are sky-high for Chicago this season.

Additions: Ben Wallace (FA-Detroit), P.J. Brown (Trade-New Orleans), Adrian Griffith (FA-Dallas), Victor Khryapa (Trade-Portland), Tyrus Thomas (Draft 1-4), Thabo Sefolosha (Draft 1-13)
Subtractions: Tyson Chandler (Trade-New Orleans), J.R. Smith (Trade-Denver), Darius Songalia (FA-Washington), Eric Piatowski (FA-Phoenix), Janeero Pargo, Othella Harrington

If they gave the Larry O'Brien trophy to the team with the best offseason, the Chicago Bulls certainly would be the winner. They stole the single best free agent on the market from their archrival and found a way to rid themselves of the awful contract of Tyson Chandler. Replacing Chandler for Ben Wallace and 5 million a year is a phenomenal trade. Wallace is on the downside of his career, but he is still able to be a major defensive force when healthy. Most importantly, Chicago didn't kill their cap space, because they found a taker for Tyson Chandler and his 60 million dollar contract. Chandler had a very good season in 04/05, but he regressed last year and messed up Chicago's rhythm with silly fouls on both ends of the court. Replacing him with Wallace and P.J. Brown will make Chicago much better.

The question is, how much better will the Bulls be? Chicago had an expected won-loss record of 43-39 last year, but needed to win 10 of their last 11 to even finish with a .500 record. The ultimate problem with Chicago is that they still have nobody that can score for them unless it's in the framework of their offense. After a really strong rookie year, the Bulls were hoping that Ben Gordon would be that guy, but he averaged 3 fewer points per 40 minutes last year. Despite playing in 7 more minutes than the year before, Gordon barely increased his scoring average and percentages. Kirk Hinrich was solid once again at the point, but his numbers were basically identical to his 04/05 year.

There is good news with the young Bulls, however. Luol Deng improved his numbers from last year, averaging a solid 14.3 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. Andres Nocioni also stepped up his game, averaging 13 points and 6 boards a game. If either can emerge as a reliable and consistent scorer, then the Bulls will have a much more efficient offense.

Based on the Wallace move and the increased depth alone, the Bulls will be better than last year. How much better will hang on the shoulders of Gordon and Deng. If either can emerge as a 20 point scorer, the Bulls will be much better offensively. Otherwise, the Bulls will remain relatively inconsistent, with their performance directly relating to their jump-shooting ability. I see them beating up on the East bottom feeders due to their depth and defensive ability, but struggling against the Clevelands, Miamis, and Detroits of the East. Unless they can pull off a trade to bring in a superstar like Kevin Garnett or Jermaine O'Neal, I see them having a similar record as they did in 05 with the potential to improve even more.

Projected Record: 49-33.

Matt over at Blog-A-Bull previewed the Bulls recently for the NBA Blog Previews and predicts a 55 win season.
Some teams are said to be built for the playoffs. It’s hard to predict whether this new mix of players will be ready for a deep playoff run, but they are definitely built to win a lot of games in the regular season. As you’re likely tired of hearing by now: the Bulls play defense and are deep, two things that can keep them in every game they’ll play. They may have nights when the shots aren’t falling, but there will be very few games when they’re not putting out an effort, meaning they should beat up the lesser teams in the league without fear of playing down to the competition.
I agree that the Bulls are build for the regular season, but I also think they'll struggle against top competition in the East. They'll have one of the league's best records against sub-.500 teams, but I don't see Chicago having a winning record against the top teams in both conferences just yet.

I'm also posing the same challenge to Matt as I did to my roomate. With the Bulls and the Wizards developing into a budding rivalry, and the distinct possibility that they'll end up meeting somewhere along the line in the postseason, who's going to get more regular-season wins? You take Chicago, I'll take the Wizards. Winner gets to have the loser post on their blog as to why the blog's team is so good. What say you, Matt?

Think I screwed this one up? Let me know. How many wins do you see Chicago getting this season?

Other "Analyzing the Competitions" looked at the Hawks, Nets, Knicks, 76ers, and Rockets.

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2 Comments:
Anonymous Charlie said...

I'm the famous roommate mentioned in your entry, and I think the Bulls are going to pound on the Wizards with their superior athleticism and depth. The Bulls will have at least 55 wins, win the central and advance deep into the playoffs.

9:26 PM

 
Anonymous Eeeee said...

At this stage it's all conjecture and forecasting however I seriously doubt the Bulls ability to be a significant player in the East this year. They may very well win 55 games, but it is still the east and they will still face some challenges when push comes to shove. The Wizards may not be a better team but they should be a hulluva lot more fun to watch this season as far as scoring goes.

Bring on the season, I can't wait any longer........

6:17 PM

 

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