Baby Bull team able to take on the best

By Kevin Olsen

It’s NBA season and the Baby Bulls have another year under their belt and the expectations continue to rise. I am here to tell you why this is finally their year. And to begin, look no further than the team that won the Eastern Conference a year ago: the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Even with the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the Celtics and Rashard Lewis to the Magic, there is not one team in the entire conference that really scares me. So instead of showing each way that makes the Bulls the best team in the conference – which I will do later anyway – I will go with the theory of “Why not this year?”

There was absolutely no reason whatsoever to explain why the Cavs were able to make it to the NBA finals and how the Mavericks got blitzed by the Warriors in the first round (and the Cavs are worse this year without Anderson Varejao and no significant additions). So I will take this chaos theory and combine it with a very talented Bulls team, sans Kobe, and say there is no reason why this can’t be the Bulls’ year.

And it doesn’t hurt that they have some emerging superstars on their team. And no, I am not talking about Kirk Hinrich or Ben Gordon. I am of course talking about Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas. These two are destined for great things to come, and in Deng’s case it might all come together this season. He has a premier mid-range jump shot, is one of the best finishers in the league, and with those long arms of his, can only improve on defense.

Yes, Tyrus Thomas is still at least another year away from greatness, but he will still show plenty of flashes of brilliance this season. He is also part of a great bench, the one thing Boston truly lacks. When players like Thomas, Andres Nocioni, Joakim Noah and Thabo Sefolosha are coming off the bench, you have a pretty talented and deep team. Gordon and Hinrich will continue to produce, and improve for that matter, to make up a strong backcourt.

While a big man who can score in the paint is still missing, signing Joe Smith and drafting Aaron Gray will be an upgrade from last season’s team. And of course, Chicago is one of the best in the entire NBA on defense and in rebounding. To me, the Bulls do everything well – at least well enough – and are the least flawed team in the weaker East.

Everyone else in the East appears to have some glaring flaws or missing pieces. Boston is a sexy pick with its big three of Garnett, Allen and Pierce, but outside of them the Celtics are thin. Second-year man Rajon Rondo will have to run this star-studded lineup and their bench is very weak especially after Juwan Howard signed with Dallas over Boston earlier this week. And of course there is the issue of whether or not the three stars can play well together and spread the ball around enough. They have the talent to make it to the finals but too many question marks in my book.

The Pistons have a loaded offense once again, but they just do not scare me enough to convince me they can beat the Bulls again in the playoffs. Just watching them last year in the regular season and especially in the playoffs, they just have this undeserved swagger to them. Is it just me, or did Chauncey Billups go from a modest rising star to one of the most arrogant players in the league? They need a little more depth on their bench and they need to lose this arrogance they have about them or they will not make it through the playoffs.

And then there is the Heat. There is just not enough support for star players Dwyane Wade and Shaq to make a serious postseason run. There is just about a 0 percent chance that both Wade and Shaq will be healthy the entire season and their teammates just look too old or not good enough even after trading Antoine Walker for Ricky Davis and Mark Blount.

All of this works in the favor of the Bulls. They have fewer questions about them and more young talent than the other East contenders. So count on them to win 55-60 games and lose in the finals to whoever wins it out west.

Kevin Olsen is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]