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NBA Preview: Chicago Bulls

I'm going to preview the other NBA teams a little differently than most previews rock it. You'll see how it works as we go along. Regardless if you dig mine or not, check out the NBA previews that Celtics Blog is gathering.

Here on Rufus on Fire, teams are ordered in a way that's interesting probably only to me.


1 -- In my preview of the Milwaukee Bucks, I introduced the concept of the Lion On An Island, in reference to Joe Alexander. It applies just as appropriately, if not more so, to Derrick Rose.

"Male lion" by Arno & Louise, cc-licensed

The Lion On An Island is a thought experiment. Ask yourself: If you were alone on an island with a lion, how would you survive? Could you survive? The instant you determine there is a lion on the island with you and start thinking of ways to kill it before it kills you, your odds of survival start going up. However, your odds will plateau at a certain point, because your human ingenuity will only take you so far. At a certain point, you'll have to stop thinking and preparing, and you'll have to actually kill the lion. Sure, you might try to have the lion kill itself in some sort of trap you devise, but more likely you'll have to encounter the lion.

Some of us are better equipped to physically confront the lion, because we're stronger, quicker, less prone to panic, or whatever. We can't know how we'll react until we actually face the big cat.

Such is the National Basketball Association. Derrick Rose owned college basketball last season--perhaps not as thoroughly and obviously as Michael Beasley, but he still owned every game he played. In less than 30 minutes per game, Rose averaged 14.9 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. Those numbers may not jump off the screen, but keep in mind that, on a per minute basis, it's as impressive as anything the other top guards in the draft produced. On top of that, Rose was the consensus best total athlete in the guard class, and he was a leader on a national championship caliber college team. In other words, Rose has signaled in every possible way that he's ready to slay the lion. Now, he confronts it.

I like that Vinny Del Negro wants to pair him with Kirk Hinrich. Either one can run the offense, but the one without the ball in his hands to start the play won't be useless. As the season wears on, and the Bulls figure whether they'll be in contention for a playoff spot, they can shift how many possessions start with Rose instead of Hinrich.

2 -- Joakim Noah is not a center. Dude can't score. His free throws spin sideways. He screams whenever he does anything remotely noteworthy. His mom is hot. His dad's a good lookin' gentleman. Everything about him says "Douchebag!"

Here's the thing, though. Joakim Noah is the kind of player that Robin Lopez dreams he might one day be. There's a place for players like Joakim Noah on winning teams, even in the starting lineup. And when the Bulls go truly small, with Hinrich, Rose, Deng, Thomas, and Noah, that's a quintet that can attack the rim as well as any other lineup in the league. And Noah allows it to happen, because the same personality that has no problem doing a seizure dance after winning the NCAA title pushes him to frenetic activity from block to block on defense.

Drew Gooden is probably better suited to that type of free flowing offense, but defensively, he'd be an utter disaster at the five. Joakim Noah was designed to play a small lineup five and he'll be lost outside that role. Let him play it.

3 -- No one knows if Vinny Del Negro will be a good coach. However, his lack of experience in coaching roles shouldn't be a knock against him. Remember: Experience is only a proxy for talent--a relatively weak one, at that. It's entirely possible that Del Negro benefits from his lack of experience. It's possible he hasn't been contaminated by faulty received wisdom passed on during a coaching apprenticeship. It's possible he approaches team management in a more positive manner than people who have spent their recent professional lives within the machine.

4 -- According to 14/16 voting, NBA fans think Chicago is not a playoff team. I don't know if I agree with that or not.