Plenty of preseason hype surrounds the Bulls

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By Spencer Brown

Normally preseason basketball wouldn’t warrant serious discussion, but in the case of the Chicago Bulls, an exception must be made.

This may be one of the most anticipated seasons in Chicago since the late-90s championship teams.

As a result, it has also become one of the most anticipated preseasons of all time.

The bulk of the attention revolves around the former MVP Derrick Rose. Rose’s past three seasons have been injury-riddled to say the least.

He missed close to half of the 2012 lockout season with various injuries, topping it off with a torn ACL in Game One of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

He missed the entire 2012-13 season.

Rose finally made his return in the 2013-14 season. The return lasted 10 games before another knee injury shut down the season.

All in all, in the last 230 Bulls’ games, Rose has appeared in just 49.

Bulls’ fans have a mix of paranoia and excitement every time Rose touches a basketball. He appeared in FIBA competition over the summer but was inconsistent in a limited role for U.S. team that took home the gold medal.

The tensions are raised once he puts on a Bulls uniform.

Rose has looked great thus far. The numbers aren’t explosive because of limited minutes in preseason action. However, he looks as quick and explosive as he was pre-injury. Rose also appears to have more control of the game, picking and choosing when to accelerate. Partially because of getting acclimated to NBA competition and his new teammates as well as a new understanding of the game.

His jump shot still isn’t where everyone would hope, but physically, he looks great.

Aside from Rose, the Bulls made a few offseason acquisitions hoping to bolster their championship chances.

Chicago hosted big name players such as Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol, ultimately landing Gasol. Nikola Mirotic has finally been signed. Draft day maneuvering was done to acquire Doug McDermott. Aaron Brooks was signed, in my opinion, as an insurance policy.

How have they looked this preseason?

Gasol, finally healthy, is a monumental improvement over Carlos Boozer, who was amnestied and landed with Gasol’s old team the Lakers.

Gasol’s ability to shoot, post, pass and understand team defensive principles makes him a valuable asset and a great compliment to Joakim Noah. Gasol is great in pick-and-pop and high-low situations; a smart player and capable scorer and rebounder.

Mirotic is still a work in progress. It will take time for him to adjust to the physicality and quickness of the NBA game. Mirotic’s shooting ability is unquestioned. As the season goes, he will develop and become an integral part of the rotation, maybe after the All-Star break.

McDermott will be a good player in the league. His work ethic has been noted as well as his nerves starting the preseason. As he is settling into the realization that his dream has come true, that lethal jump shot will follow. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, known for not favoring rookies, spoke highly of McDermott and even inserted him into the starting lineup against the Bucks. Possibly just a preseason experiment, but Bulls fans should prepare for Mike Dunleavy to join the Bench Mob.

Brooks has been a surprise. It seems that every year, the Bulls find a point guard capable of scoring 20 with ease, from Nate Robinson to DJ Augustin to Aaron Brooks. The only problem is Rose has never been healthy enough to play with any of them. Brooks’ ability to get his own shot could be useful for the Bulls in late game situations where Rose can be placed at the shooting guard spot along with Gasol and a couple of shooters.

What to make of the returning Bulls?

Noah is and always will be the heart and soul of the team. He stills appears a bit hobbled by nagging foot injuries.

Taj Gibson maintains his same role but has not fared well this preseason and doesn’t appear to be in game shape or game mind. He has a few more weeks to work out the kinks.

Jimmy Butler is still the glue for this team. His jump shot has improved but not enough to consider him a knock down shooter.

Thibs is Thibs.

The Bulls have a high ceiling assuming all the parts come together. Even with Cleveland looming in the background, Chicago still has a pretty good chance to make it out of the Eastern Conference. Defense has never been a problem. But, when you consider facing a team like the Cavs or the Wizards, offense has to be produced.

The Bulls have still yet to address their most glaring weakness, an athletic wing player who can get his own shot. To management’s credit, the play for Carmelo was made to address this very issue. Regardless, the problem still remains and it allows teams to center in on Rose late in games.

Tony Snell has moved to the end of the bench and McDermott is just a rookie. There is always the possibility a star could rise throughout the season and fill that void.

Despite that, it should be an exciting, roller coaster of a season for Bulls fans.

Spencer can be reached at [email protected]