Tomorrow, the Bobcats will face the Chicago Bulls, a team right there with Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, and San Antonio, among the title contenders. While they've been an interesting team for several years, they hadn't been title contenders, primarily because they didn't have a singular superstar leading them, and secondarily because the supporting cast could certainly play, but just wasn't up to the same standard as the front-runners.
Now? Carlos Boozer is on board. Ronnie Brewer is on board. And most important? Joakim Noah was as good as ever before his injury, and Derrick Rose is taking names. See what he did to the poor Pistons last night.
But more than the crazy-athletic play, I see a lineup on the floor that could both out-skill and out-athlete even the Bobcats' impressive array of long leapers: Rose, Brewer, Boozer, Luol Deng, and then Kurt Thomas was out there instead of Noah. The thing is, they also have Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, and C.J. Watson off the bench, and come playoff time they won't need to use Keith Bogans for anything.
Here's what I'm getting at: Gerald Wallace is a better wing than anyone on the Bulls, I'm pretty sure they'd rather have Shaun Livingston than either Bogans or Watson (or D.J. Augustin, for that matter), and if you squint hard enough you might be able to convince yourself that Tyrus Thomas is a more productive overall player than the notoriously defense-deficient Boozer, but that's where the Cats' advantages end.
The Bulls have enough sheer depth to be a playoff team even if Rose ends up doing what he did the past few years, but if he's truly taken a step forward, then that record is no mirage.
The Cats' schedule's soft spot is over. Now comes a test.