2015-16 NBA Record: 42-40
Additions: Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat), Rajon Rondo (Sacramento Kings), Isaiah Canaan (Philadelphia 76ers), Robin Lopez (traded from New York Knicks), Jerian Grant (traded from New York Knicks), Spencer Dinwiddie (traded from Detroit Pistons)
Subtractions: Derrick Rose (traded to New York Knicks), Joakim Noah (New York Knicks), Pau Gasol (San Antonio Spurs), E’Twaun Moore (New Orleans Pelicans), Aaron Brooks (Indiana Pacers), Mike Dunleavy Jr (Cleveland Cavaliers), Justin Holiday (traded to New York Knicks), Cameron Bairstow (traded to Detroit Pistons), Jose Calderon (traded to Los Angeles Lakers)
Projected Starting Line-up
PG – Rajon Rondo
SG – Dwyane Wade
SF – Jimmy Butler
PF – Taj Gibson
C – Robin Lopez
The Derrick Rose era is officially over in Chicago, with the point guard being traded to New York. The Bulls also let Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol leave and in return, signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade to help star guard Jimmy Butler. However, there are questions as to how these three would fit together under Fred Hoiberg, who in his first year as Bulls’ coach, failed to lead Chicago to the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
Fred Hoiberg’s offense is high-paced that can spread the court with shooting. But Hoiberg will have to adjust his system to suit his three stars, as all three aren’t known for their shooting. Butler’s one of the better well-rounded talents in the league. On offense, he can drive to the rim, draw fouls and make contested mid range jumpers. On defense, he’s one of the top perimeter defenders and can challenge any player. Although he’s slipped on defense the past couple of years due to him developing on offense, there’s no doubt that when he puts it all together, he’ll be the go-to guy for Chicago. Rondo comes into the side having led the league in assists last year, despite playing for a struggling Sacramento team. He’s smart and crafty as a play-maker and has better offensive weapons this year in Chicago, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t lead the league in assists once again. Wade should be the guy the Bulls go to in clutch time and is a positive locker room presence. The former 3x NBA champion will turn 35 this year, but the 2015 postseason suggests that there may be something left in the tank. However, he has assured fans that the Bulls is still Jimmy Butler’s team. Taj Gibson is an absolute grinder, whose hard play and tough defense will intrigue many teams to try and trade for him this season. Robin Lopez is a solid replacement for Joakim Noah, who had a terrible 2015-16 season. Lopez is a solid rim protector and one of the top offensive rebounders in the NBA. He also has a nice little hook shot that rarely gets used in the league anymore. Nikola Mirotic finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting two years back, but struggled in his sophomore season. He’ll be looking to bounce back with his versatile offense and having Lopez around will make things easier on defense for him. Jerian Grant is a solid back-up who could thrive in Hoiberg’s offense rather than New York’s triangle system. Bobby Portis has potential as a double-double player and Doug McDermott is a top shooter that may be relied on for spacing.
Wade and Butler are expected to combine for 35-40 points every night, with Rondo dishing the assists. However, all three don’t provide the shooting that’s required in Fred Hoiberg’s system. This may mean guys like Mirotic and McDermott may get more minutes for their spacing. It also means defenses will box the paint in order to force the big 3 to shoot. With Pau Gasol’s departure, there’s not much of a presence in the low post. The crowded backcourt will be a problem this season, which is why I think Chicago will struggle to make the playoffs.
Prediction: 4th in Central Division