The last Chicago Bulls team to win 62 games won the NBA Championship. We have the MVP, coach of the year, defense, consistency, size, strength, speed, Ashton Kutcher-Moore’s baby brother, and Kanye West. In the words of Johnny Drama, “victory!!,” is imminent! Right? Eh, not so much. I’d love for someone to talk me down, convince me I should throw caution to the wind, but until then the following four points remain the biggest barriers to the Bulls hoisting up a seventh O’Brien Trophy.
1) One man cannot propel a team to a championship; especially if that one man is a point guard.
We need look no further than the 1989 & 1990 Detroit Pistons to see a team win a championship with a point guard as their alpha dog. Many would argue that team won two championships because of their defensive prowess and not because of their leader Isiah “Come to My Office So I Can Sexually Assail You” Thomas. To that point, the ’89 Pistons are widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive teams in the history of the league. What happened in the past is certainly not logically necessary to happen in the future, but the point remains: it is extremely difficult and unique to have a 6’3 point guard lead a team to a championship.
Having said that, I think Derrick Rose IS Isiah Thomas (Hoo, Hoo, Hoo, Hoosiers!), but the Bulls’ supporting cast IS NOT the Pistons’ supporting cast. While I am amazed at Thibs ability to implement a defensive strategy focused on help side defense, swift rotations, and team boarding; I cannot say this team is defensively as sophisticated or talented as the Pistons’ teams. More importantly and practically, the Bulls do not have a formidable “two.” As amazing as D-Rose has been, he cannot do it alone in the playoff (though he damn near did it the whole regular season). Unless Deng gives us 20/10/5 (while Boozer and Noah give us double doubles), we do not have enough to beat the elite teams (Orlando –yes Orlando-, Boston, and Miami) in a seven game series.
2) Lack of experience
This is the most glaring weakness I see in the team. They haven’t been together for very long, and their core (Rose, Deng, Noah) has yet to win a playoff series. While this alone does not make it impossible for them to win it all, it does serve as a serious barrier to the O’Brien Trophy. It is no secret that it took Jordan seven years before winning a championship. Teams need to learn from their defeat, remedy their deficiencies, and move forward with a trust in one another that can only be fomented by time and experience.
To that point, this team has yet to be in serious pressure moments that challenge the trust they have in one another. After watching a good number of Bulls’ games this year (living in the midwest has some advantages) I am worried that the supporting cast folds up late in games, which prompts D-Rose to say, “fuck…this, we are not going to lose tonight.” Where by he goes off and wins the game. The problems with this strategy are twofold. First, saying, “fuck this we are going to go win” doesn’t work as well in the playoffs because of the added pressure and level of talent teams play against. Second, how can we be sure after letting Rose bail the Bulls out of those regular season games, the supporting cast will be willing (or able) to step up consistently in the face of such adversity. While I like the Bulls and OKC, let’s be real, neither has won a playoff series to this point (though OKC seems to be a year ahead in the experience department).
3) The Miami Heat
This has less to do with the Bulls and more to do with my impression of the Heat. I have been arguing since the decision that Miami was going to the finals. RE: https://25twofour.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/lebron-wade-bosh-the-nba-july-10-2010/. This isn’t a knock on the Bulls as much as it is me giving it up to the Heat. They have two of the six best players in the league. The rebut would be, “but these fools don’t have any experience being together either.” Truth. Two counters: first, both Wade and James have been to the finals, and second, it’s Wade AND James as opposed to Rose AND Rose. Miami (and my prediction) is fortunate that Danny Ainge over-thought basketball, trading away a major piece of the Celtic’s heart and grit, Perkins. Look for the Heat to beat the Bulls in six games in Miami.
4) The Los Angeles Lakers
If the Bulls make it to the finals, they will be able to exploit the remains that are the LA point guards. Beyond that, they have no answer for Bryant, Boozer cannot check Pau, Noah cannot check Bynum, and the Lakers bench is better than Chicago’s. Though I am high on our bench, we cannot match LA’s talent. That being said, I think Korver is being utilized properly within our offense –actually running plays for him to score rather than have him spot up for jumpers. Bogans is a defensive juggernaut, Gibson can give us 8/8, and Asik is a great help side defender that provides relief for Noah and Boozer. Our biggest weakness compered to the Lakers is if Noah or Boozer gets into foul trouble, contrary to popular belief, we don’t have much depth. It is Asik, Thomas, and that is about it.
I hope I am wrong on this one. I know I am making a cynical, at times unfair, assessment against the Bulls winning it all this year, but beyond the numbers and historical arguments, my gut tells me they will not get it done this year.
 The 97-98 Bulls completed their second three peat of the Jordan era, finishing the regular season with a 62-20 record. http://www.nba.com/bulls/history/Chicago_Bulls_History-24393-42.html?nav=ArticleList#20
 “Derrick Rose scored 26 points on Tuesday giving him more than 2,000 for the season. Rose is only the third player in the past 30 years to have 2,000 points and 600 assists in one season. LeBron James did that in 2009-10 and Michael Jordan did it in 1988-89.” http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-110413/daily-dime
 Would not be surprised if George Karl, Doug Collins, Nate McMillan or Gregg Popovich got the nod, all are great choices.
 The Bulls went the whole season without losing more than two games in a row.
 What up, Sam?
 You have to check the recent history on this one, but I think the ’95 Magic are the last bad to great team and they had Shaq –a big. Maybe the ’97 spurs w/ Duncan –a big-, perhaps the ’02 Nets with the Kidd trade –weak eastern conference?
 Arguably top five. Give me: 1.James 2. Howard 3. Rose 4. Durant 5./6. Bryant/Wade?
 Do not be surprised if the Magic bounce the Bulls in the second round.
 Really strong article on why the Bulls have an incredible bench:
 Well not exactly but THE Dr. Jack Ramsay thinks so: http://www.blogabull.com/2011/4/12/2106629/espn-defensive-player-of-the-year-picks.