TNT analyst, 5-time NBA champion, and former Chicago Bull Steve Kerr ruffled a few feathers last week when he boldly predicted that the Chicago Bulls would knock off the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in the 2014 Playoffs. Kerr cited how difficult it was to three-peat as the reason Miami would bow out early in next year’s playoffs. Having accomplished the feat himself in 1996-98, Kerr knows what he’s talking about, but why Chicago?
The Bulls front office didn’t make a lot of noise in the offseason by bringing in a sexy name, but they did address a dire need with the drafting of Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, and the free agent signing of Mike Dunleavy. With D Rose back in the fold it’s imperative to surround him, a penetrating point guard, with spot-up shooters.
Chicago’s new three-point threats along with Rose and the hard hat and lunch pail crew of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich, and Taj Gibson makes the Bulls one of the best teams in the NBA, on paper.
“With the return of Derrick Rose and the emergence of Jimmy Butler in my opinion it’s probably as strong a starting five as we’ve had in recent history,” Bulls General Manager Gar Forman said. “We feel with some of the returners and new additions we have quality and versatility coming off the bench.”
A mix of veteran players and rookies will duel it out for the teams final three roster spots, but the core of the Bulls is pretty much set. According to the team’s most important player the Bulls have more than enough to win.
“I think we’re pretty good,” Derrick Rose said. “I think we have a great nucleus but at the same time it takes us really having that chemistry, playing together, and believing in ourselves that we can win a title.”
Chemistry is underrated in professional sports. A couple of unhappy campers can make life miserable for every player on the roster. Chicago is heading into the 2014 season with their glue guy, Luol Deng planning on testing the waters of free agency in July. Trade talk is sure to rear its head at some point this season and could disrupt the harmony in Chicago’s locker room.
“I don’t worry about it,” Forman said of the possibility of team dissension. “I think we’ve got some strong-minded guys that when we hit obstacles along the way they’ve shown that we’ll be able to fight through any obstacle that we may hit.”
“Luol Deng has been a very important part of what we’ve built up to this point and any success that we’ve had and he’ll continue to be a big part of what we’re doing into the future,” Forman added. “I don’t anticipate that there will be any type of problems at all.”
There is not way to predict if things will go sour. You can only play the hand that you’re dealt. The fact is with D Rose playing quarterback and Tom Thibodeau running the show the Bulls had the best record in the NBA in two straight seasons. There is no reason to believe that Chicago won’t equal or surpass their past achievements--especially with number 1 back on the court.
“His make-up is entirely different from most,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said of Rose. “He’s big, strong, quick, smart, and tough.”
Most importantly he’s healthy.
“I’m feeling healthy,” the former league MVP said. “I think the only thing that changed in my game is my confidence level. I think I’m way more confident in my craft and my game. I worked out a whole year training my body and I want to go out there and really show people that I’m the same player, just more efficient.”
“The thing that drives me is winning a championship. I think that the only thing that’s missing on my resume is a championship.”