Despite some of the big moves made by other teams this offseason, The Chicago Bulls may be the most changed team in the league. There are a lot of questions surrounding the Bulls this year. Will the new personal be able to grasp coach Fred Hoiberg’s offense? The personnel they had last year had issues with the style of play. Will their new veteran backcourt be able to gel quickly?
This typically leads to uncertainty, even for Vegas. According to Boyds Bets, the Bulls win total was set at 38.5. That would leave them out of the playoff picture again this season. Here are five predictions I have for Chicago this season.
1. They will start slow – Their roster is starkly different than last season. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah left for New York. Pau Gasol is now wearing black and silver in San Antonio. Chicago added former all-league guards Rajon Rondo to the roster. It will be interesting to see how they gel with the teams’ star player, Jimmy Butler. On top of that, Hoiberg’s complicated uptempo offense is going to present a tough learning curve for the team.
2. They will make the playoffs – If the Bulls had these players when they were in their prime, they would contend for the conference title. Hometown hero Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo used to be considered the best players in the league at their positions. They have slowed in their later years. Their experience and remaining talent should be enough to garner the Bulls a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
3. The Bulls will struggle on offense – This may be a surprising notion to some of you considering the big names on the Bulls roster and their coaching. There is a glaring weakness in the offense of this team, 3-point shooting. Wade and Rondo are both under the league standard for guards when it comes to outside shooting. Below average outside accuracy wouldn’t have been such a big problem earlier in their careers, but the NBA today is all about speed and outside shooting. I think it will be tough for the Bulls to score on pace with some of the high-powered shooting teams they will be facing.
4. Denzel Valentine will be a good draft pick – The Bulls selected Valentine with the 14th pick of the draft in June. It was obviously a response to the departure of Derrick Rose. I think this will be a high-value pick for the Bulls. Valentine stayed all four years in college. The young point guard should be more ready for the NBA than other younger players taken in the draft.
What I love most about Valentine is that it isn’t all talent with him. He produced in college in a big way. He averaged nearly 20 points per game and over seven assists, and seven rebounds a game. He is also a gamer. Just look at his game-winning shot against Ohio State last season. A couple of years studying under Rondo, one of the smartest players in the game, one hurt him either. He is poised to be a long time starter for the Bulls if he pans out.
5. Wade will be productive in spurts – The Bulls have been trying to get Dwayne Wade on their roster since he entered the draft. The Chicago native is finally there in what is probably going to be the twilight of his career. He can still be productive and put points on the board. He won’t be able to do it for as long of stretches as he used to, though. I still look for Wade to be an active force in the backcourt for the Bulls despite his increasing age.