Rose-less Bulls seek identity in 16-17’ season


Spencer Jones, Sports Editor

This off-season has been bittersweet for Chicago Bulls fans. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are settling in with the New York Knicks and the key additions of Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are proving that their age isn’t a factor. Jimmy Butler is the face of the team now, something that multiple sources felt he wanted. Fans are wondering if this team can bounce back after missing the playoffs for the first time of the Rose era.

In the trade with the Knicks for Rose, the Bulls received Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant. Lopez is expected to give the same amount of production offensively as Pau Gasol and the defensive tenacity of Joakim Noah. He’s also younger and cheaper for the Bulls’ payroll.

Grant, nephew of Bulls legend Horace Grant, faces a tougher road of getting into the rotation. After struggling to find a legitimate backup point guard to play behind Rose, the Bulls now have a log jam at the point. Rondo is starting, and Michael Carter-Williams was acquired via a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. Isaiah Canaan is probable for the next man up. That totals four point guards including Grant. The bright spot in this situation is that the league has gone to smaller lineups. Golden State’s Draymond Green is a center playing in a small forward’s body. Bulls Coach Fred Hoiberg could experiment with a lineup of Rondo, Carter-Williams, and another point guard.

The wing positions for the Chicago Bulls are going to be the most entertaining to watch this season. Wade and Butler are known to leave it all on the court defensively, but the concerns are their offensive output. They both can get to the rim and finish with the best of them, but they’re not a legitimate threat from behind the arc. Butler is still improving and Wade finished the preseason shooting above 40 percent from three. If the Wade/Butler tandem doesn’t have it going, third year players Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic and rookie Paul Zipser could fill the void.

Taj Gibson is now the longest tenured player on the team, and he will finally get the chance to start, now that Gasol and Noah are gone. Teaming him up with Lopez will give the Bulls one of the better defensive frontcourts in the league, and the Bulls are sure to be among the best  in  the league in rebounding and blocks. Their backups are slated to be Cristiano Felicio and Bobby Portis. This young duo is not afraid of the pressure and they are ready to step into the starting role in case of an injury. Felicio and Portis can knock down the mid-range shot consistently, but could also do the dirty work in the paint.

Though this team has a lot of upside, there’s still a lot of questions that need to be answered. This team has struggled to find an identity under the direction of Hoiberg. Last year they settled for a mediocre approach to the season, and we saw a lack of commitment on both sides of the ball. They did get younger and more athletic, but LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t slowing down anytime soon either, and the Eastern Conference is only getting better as the days go on. The Bulls are playing in arguably the best division in the NBA that could have otherwise sent all five of its teams to the playoffs.