After LeBron James sent the Bulls packing in last season’s Eastern Conference semi-finals for the fourth time in his career, Chicago’s management decided to undergo a complete make over. The first move for the Bulls’ front office was cutting ties with 2011 NBA Coach of the Year, Tom Thibideau. This change didn’t come as a surprise to many, as the building tension between Thibs and the front office had been well documented for months prior. Following that, the Windy City had a rather quiet rest of the offseason, as the core of the roster entering the 2015-2016 season is essentially the same.
With 15 games on the Chicago Bulls schedule through October/November, the main storyline regarding this team will be the newly implemented system by Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg, who was the head basketball coach of the Iowa State University men’s team last season, brings his up-tempo, offensive-oriented style of play to the table. This is almost in complete contrast to the tough, slow and gritty approach to basketball that were the Bulls for the past five seasons. Through 8 preseason competitions, the Bulls are attempting almost 10 more 3-pointers than last year’s 22.3. With the unpredictability of Derrick Rose and looming injury concerns, the Bulls will once again rely on budding star Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol as the focal points of the offense. The 26-year old Butler, who averaged career highs of 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists en route to his first All-Star appearance, put him as one of the league’s most efficient players last season. He, along with the lot of high-IQ players such as Mike Dunleavy, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, are a perfect fit on paper for the Bulls’ fresh style of play.
We don’t have to wait long at all for the first marquee match-up on the Bulls’ schedule as the Cleveland Cavaliers trop into the Windy Season on opening night. With the Cavs slowly regaining their star power, the Bulls appear to be one of the few Eastern Conference teams that are able to challenge them. Jimmy Butler, who held LeBron to just 39.8% shooting from the field and just 10.7% from distance through 6 games in the most recent playoffs, will look to replicate these results on defense. In the front court, Hoiberg has the luxury of a multitude of versatile options to limit the production of Kevin Love. In addition to Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis are all capable impact players. Hoiberg has already shown his willingness to mix and match his rotations on the fly throughout the preseason, so this will likely change on a nightly basis.
The early changes implemented by the newly installed Fred Hoiberg should have Bulls’ fans excited for the upcoming season. The sense of fluidity and flexibility that he has brought to virtually the exact same roster as last year puts the Chicago Bulls alongside the Cleveland Cavaliers as favorites to finish atop the Eastern Conference.
Courtesy of Bleacher Report