Chicago Bulls…. steady as she goes

In the recent aftermath of the Derrick Rose injury everyone has an opinion as to what the Bulls should do to improve their team.

Well ,here’s another.

Hold her steady.

No, this is not about sailing but a team that should not panic,
not that I ever thought they would.

Consider:

1. Loul Deng:

The constant subject of trade rumors from bow to stern. Oh, sorry there I go again. Pundit’s, experts ,fans have all suggested that the Bulls quickly move Loul for players,draft picks or both. Conventional wisdom states that to exist as a team just good enough to make the playoffs only to lose in the first or second round is the the third level of NBA hell. Chart a new course they say, one that doesn’t feature Derrick Rose as the main star. The thinking here is that Derrick is now damaged goods given his history of injuries and may never again reach past levels of excellence.

Loul Deng seems to be one of the Bulls most valued assets and at the end of this season he will be a free agent. Most insiders know that the Bulls, one of the leagues top defensive teams owe a lot to Loul who at times serves as the teams leader, rudder and soul. Loul Deng embodies the culture that separates the Bulls from 90% of all NBA teams. This team is built from the inside out so when evaluating them you must consider character, guts and determination.

Not only should the Bulls not trade Loul Deng. He should retire a Bull and someday become an assistant coach. O.K. lets look big picture here. Loul is more valuable to the Bulls and who they want to become than anyone else they could get for him, ( even on one leg). The team has Europe’s best player possibly joining the team next season and Charlotte’s first round pick in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.
Memo to Bulls management, Make a credible offer, steer clear of icebergs,er balloon payments and try not to drag him through the mud. Lord knows you’ve done enough of that.

2. Derrick Rose aka The Natural.

Ditto for the character,guts and determination part. There is one player and one player only in the NBA who can come close to Lebron James, one player who won the only other MVP trophy in the last five years(including this one) and only one player who refuses to acquiesce to Lebron’s greatness.
D. Rose is a true son of Chicago, a tough player on a tough team with a tough coach. He is not to be underestimated. Find Derrick a perimeter bench scorer and in the words of a wise man, ” Don’t be a fool.
*side-note:
At some point Derrick will have to acknowledge that he needs to raise the point in which he sets the ball prior to shooting jump shots. That will compensate for the difference when he shooting around and when he is in a game. During game action Derrick jumps higher which automatically flattens his shot, unless he pulls the ball back to just above his forehead. The result will be a softer shot with more arch and backspin. (see Ray Allen)

3. Gar-Pax

An affectionate nickname given to Bulls general manager and VP of basketball operations, Gar Forman and John Paxson.
There is considerable pressure on them to make the right moves and time will tell if they do. For now however, Chicago fans pined for management to give us a shooting guard to play along side Derrick Rose…

Gar- Pax gave us Jimmy Butler.

The jury is still out on Jimmy Butler, a top flight defender and rebounder for his position. If the Bulls can get consistent scoring ( 14 to 18 ppg) from him and spot production from his clone Tony Snell. they should climb back into the top three teams in the eastern conference. Provided the Pistons are still bickering over shots.

The Bulls need to do something but that thing needs to be subtle. This writer suggest that they find a back up point guard who most closely approximates the skill set of Jordan Crawford(Celtics). Almost said Nate Robinson but trying to be nice. Hinrich is good but can’t handle heavy minutes. Mike James is old and Marcus Teague is inexperienced. Obtaining a player who can create off the dribble will allow the bulls to spread the floor, attack and deploy their three point shooters when needed.

The Bulls don’t need a star at this point and during this season but they do need the right player.

Like I said, steady as she goes.

* side note:
Since writing this piece the Bulls obtained guard DJ Augustine (A step in the right direction ).

How to beat the Heat or at least stay close

Let’s get one thing straight. This is Lebron’s time and the iron is hot so what’s an aspiring competitor to do ?
The Miami Heat are athletic, experienced, hungry and extremely well coached. Did I say they are well coached ? Currently there are only two teams in the NBA that are capable of matching the Heat’s combination of grit and moxie and one of the two just lost their star to a second knee injury.

The other is San Antonio….

Conventional coaching wisdom dictates that a teams weaknesses should be minimized and their strengths maximized. Miami’s lack of size is well documented but there are other factors worth considering:

1. Legendary team defense but average to poor individual defenders.

2. Great three point shooting but very few shot creators after Lebron and Dwayne.

3. Swarming help defenders but very few actual shot blockers. This point was exacerbated
during the playoff series against Indiana when Pacers center Roy Hibbert repeatedly
caught the ball close to the basket and gathered himself for a second and a half or just
long enough for Mario Chalmers and D. Wade to fly past him and then make what amounted
to easy shots.

Most opponents allow the Heat to establish tempo and terrain in determining how the game will be played. Notice how coaches Greg Popovich and Frank Vogel made the exact same mistake late in the playoffs when they removed their biggest players from the game to match up with Miami’s lack of size.

A recent game against the Detroit Pistons was telling. The Pistons spread the floor and utilized their ball handling players to attack off the dribble. Miami would rotate to defend but were unable to keep the Pistons Bigs from getting offensive rebounds.

Miami’s bread is buttered with their intermittent traps but the Pistons took advantage by swinging the ball to their hot three point shooters.

So, to have a snowballs chance a team should prepared to:

On defense, stay home on Miami’s three point shooters even at the risk of being bludgeoned repeatedly by Lebron. Make jump shooters out of D. Wade and LeBron. Remember you have to give up something and checking the Heat’s three point shooters will always keep you in the game provided you:

On offense, reduce turnovers and be prepared for the Heat’s aggressive reaching as most referees will allow contact when one team is the aggressor. Feature players that can shot create off the dribble and if you don’t have any then shame on you. And last but certainly not least. Remind your big men that the guy forcing them to pass the ball out of the post is Mario Chalmers.