Can the 2010-2011 Bulls Win a Championship?
2011 has been a watershed year for Chicago Bulls fans. Despite missing out on LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Derrick Rose in free agency, the Bulls surrounded star Derrick Rose with several new teammates: power forward Carlos Boozer, guards Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson, sharpshooter Kyle Korver, and young defensive center Omer Asik. Rose also improved in the offseason by adding a three point shot to his arsenal of weapons and the Bulls marched to their first 60+ win season since 1998. That means the Bulls have come full circle: after years of rebuilding, poor trades, and mediocre drafting, Chicago now has a homegrown MVP and a contending team. But, can the 2010-2011 Bulls really win an NBA championship?
There are many reasons to think that the Bulls can win it all this year. They have a true superstar player in Derrick Rose; the youngest MVP in league history at 22. Rose is the ultimately package: a supremely talented playmaker who humbly revels in his status as a hometown hero and has improved his game every single offseason. The Bulls also have three borderline All-Star players in Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah and all of them understand their very specific roles: Deng is a defensive swingman with tremendous slashing ability, Boozer is a powerful post presence who thrives off the pick and roll with Rose, and Noah is a defensive center who excels at grabbing offensive rebounds and closing down the paint. Chicago also has the deepest bench in the NBA and the most capable defense in basketball, which are both critical components of championship teams.
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So, what do the Bulls lack? Chicago does not have a capable secondary playmaker. As talented as they are, Boozer and Noah cannot create their own offense at all; they both depend on Rose to feed them the ball. Deng can create his own plays in certain situations, which has been critical for the Bulls this season, but is at his best when he is fed by Rose and slashing to the basket off a screen. Worse, with C.J. Watson as their secondary playmaker, the Bulls rely on Rose to generate almost all of their offensive flow, which will be more and more difficult to sustain as the playoffs continue. The Bulls win on defense, taking advantage of mistakes, baskets in transition, and gritty leadership but winning close games like that will be tougher and tougher as they play the very best teams. So, can they win a championship? Maybe, because their star depth, defense, understanding of roles, and leadership makes them a contender but their lack of any other playmakers besides Rose could be what keeps them from winning a seventh franchise championship.
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