Following a season in which the Bulls won a respectable 45 games without Derrick Rose and while navigating a labyrinth of other injuries, expectations are high in the Windy City. Led by Rose’s return, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah’s improved health and Jimmy Butler’s continued development, the Bulls appear poised to make a run at the Eastern Conference crown. And Pippen thinks so too.
Speaking with Ryan Probasco of CSN Chicago, Pippen was optimistic about the opportunities that await the Bulls next season:
“I’m excited [about the upcoming season]. I think going forward we really have a great opportunity to put ourselves among the elite teams in the game,” Pippen said. “With the emergence of Jimmy Butler—I’ve seen him in the gym this summer—I know that kid is really preparing himself to be a better player.”
I don’t have to say anything about our veterans like Luol [Deng] and [Carlos] Boozer. I know those guys are going to show up in shape ready to go. We all know Derrick spent a lot of time working and trying to get himself back at a high level. If we can stay healthy, we’re going to be an exciting team to watch this season.”
By now, Pippen’s thoughts are mirroring what everyone is thinking: The Bulls are going to be good.
On paper, they’re projected to be sensational, assuming of course that Derrick Rose is still Derrick Rose. And if he is, they’re arguably the Miami Heat’s biggest threat.
The Indiana Pacers strengthened their bench and boast a returning Danny Granger, but the return of a top-five superstar like Rose stands to mean more. Though the Brooklyn Nets fancy themselves title contenders, we must know better. There is no championship to be won in Brooklyn.
There isn’t one to be had in New York in general is what I should say. The Knicks made a handful of nice moves, bringing in Metta World Peace, Andrea Bargnani and Beno Udrih, but unless Amar’e Stoudemire turns the clock back to a time when he wasn’t as injury prone, they don’t match up against the Heat all that well.
Which leaves the Bulls, who will hopefully be at full capacity come fall. No more worrying about Rose’s return, no more having to deal with the injuries that plagued Noah, Deng and even Kirk Hinrich. No more of that whatsoever—that’s the plan. And if all goes according to plan, Pippen is justified in his excitement.
Not many teams can say they have what the Bulls do now—a top-tier defense and rising offense. That’s what we need to understand. Chicago was already among the elite defensively, now its getting the most potent of weapons back in Rose. Add an improving Butler and the three-point shooting Mike Dunleavy to the equation, and the Bulls have something special.
Special enough to take them past the Heat and everyone else who will be nipping at their heels in the much-improved Eastern Conference?
We shall see.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.