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Chicago Bulls Preview

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The Chicago Bulls are a frustrating team to sum up. Vinny Del Negro is clearly in over his head. Derrick Rose is their best player, a rookie point guard who struggles with jumpers, but is already a franchise cornerstone. Ben Gordon carries on the spirit of every YMCA gunner who jogs to the wing and hoists a three every time leather hits his hands. Luol Deng is coming off injury, but he and Tyrus Thomas still stand as monuments to the Cult of Potential.

And then they've got a bunch of guys who are underrated, but still not great players, and yet they're overpaid. It's quite the accomplishment. Ask the casual NBA fan if he knows who John Salmons is, and he probably won't. It's not that Salmons is some Kevin Martinesque star toiling in obscurity, but that he's a perfectly good swingman who deserves a chance to start somewhere and who toils in unappreciation.

Among guards,after Delonte West, Kirk Hinrich is the object of my second most intense basketball crush. He's a point guard who can guard points and small swingmen, once garnering 2nd Team All-Defense, and he hits threes at 37% for his career. In other words, he's a reasonable offensive player, but if his defense is as good as suggested, then the general public will almost certainly underrate his body of work. The problem is he's paid Boris Diaw money. Good times.

And finally, there's Brad Miller, who returned to Chicago after productive seasons in Indiana and Sacramento. I mainly remember his first stint with the Bulls for this:

But Miller was so much younger, then. Nowadays, he's become so embedded and lost in the NBA's strata that I feel his value is underplayed despite being completely decent in every respect. Decent D. Decent rebounding. Still scoring at a decent clip, and he's added three point shooting in the past couple years. Per minute scoring and rebounding, he's a notch below Bogut and Emeka, but that's pretty valuable. Pair him with a defensive minded rebounder like Joakim Noah, and that can be a tough front court.

The thing is, Miller is paid more than Okafor, and Noah is paid like the lottery first round pick he is, and on and on with these guys. Gathering underrated assets does nothing if they're paid commensurate to their ability or even overpaid. Such is life for the Bulls right now.