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Vegas Win Total Projection: 50.5
With a new coach in town, the Bulls look to change the way they play under Fred Hoiberg. With Derrick Rose back and returning all-star Jimmy Butler signed, the bulls could be a sleeper for the Eastern Conference. They've got a good looking starting 5, back-court and front-court depth, along with experience like Pau Gasol, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Kirk Hinrich, and Joakim Noah. I expect to see them be 2nd in their division behind the Eastern Conference champion, Cleveland Cavaliers, and ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, and Detroit Pistons. 50.5 is their projected win total and I can see them hit that mark in the East, potentially getting 51 or 52 wins. The biggest issue with this team is durability and staying healthy. Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, all have had injuries in the past 1-2 seasons keeping them out of 10+ games, which can be the hindrance of success for this team. The other question mark is if Fred Hoiberg can be better then Tom Thibodeau. Tom spent 5 seasons in Chicago doing an incredible job of leading this team to 5 straight post-season appearances, even with injuries to Derrick Rose and others. He worked under a ton of scrutiny and while he wasn't necessarily liked by all the players, his defensive schemes and knowing how to get the most out of his players was certainly proven.
Top Fantasy Options
Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose are your top fantasy options for the Bulls. Jimmy Butler averaged 20 points, 3.3 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game last season. He can also bring it defensively, averaging close to two steals per game as well as half a block. He rarely turns the ball over, so his negatives are almost none, while providing efficient offense, shooting 46% last season from the field. After signing his big contract, I expect his play to continue to develop as he is approaching the prime of his career.
Derrick Rose*, the asterick is for his injuries. If Derrick Rose can get through a full season and put together the flashes of the "old Derrick Rose" into full games, he can be a steal in fantasy. Talking with people inside the organization, Rose is certainly getting his work in, trying to get rid of the rust, and not be afraid of re-injuring his knees. Rose shot 40% from the field last season in 30 games, showing stints of his quickness and old ability, but not putting together a full game. If he can find that for entire games, we will see him go from 17.7 points per game to 20 to 25 points per game. If we don't, I think he stays in that 16-17 points per game range. I believe that Rose will be able to recoup his form and get close to 20 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. His career numbers are right there with that, but last season coming back from the injury he was below those. I like his attitude and his intangibles, he just needs to stay healthy and get back to his old self.
Joakim Noah. The reason I have him as hyped up is because I think people expect him to play a ton. I expect him to play 25-28 minutes a night, but he isn't going to return to 30-32 minutes a game. He has Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and 1st-round draft pick Bobby Portis, all in the back court, so I don't see him getting as much time on the court. Noah has never been the most productive use of time anyways, but can always get you a decent amount of assists as a big, as well as a block or two per game. I think we may see 8 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block, and a couple of assists per game. Not bad, but not what people are expecting to see this season.
"Dougy McBuckets" or Doug McDermott will be getting significant playing time, now that he has a season under his belt. We all knew it was going to be difficult for a guy who has been coached by his father for a long period of time, but now it seems he's turned a corner. He performed very well in NBA Summer League action and Mike Dunleavy Jr. is only getting older, so we should expect McDermott to supersede him and capture a larger role on this Bulls team. We can't count on him getting a ton of points because of the two other back-court players he has starting, but if he ends up in the rotation with substitutes, he should see increased shots. I like him as a value add, I think he sees the court 20-25 minutes a night, increasing as the season goes on.
The team is realistically going to be similar, record wise, to last season's Bulls team. But with a healthy D-Rose, Jimmy Butler coming into his own, and role players all-around this team, there is a chance in the weakened East to produce more wins. I expect the teams' offense to increase and the defense to take a hit. Hoiberg has an offensive scheme different from Thibs (Did Thibs even have one?), so I see that increasing, but see the teams' defensive stats decrease slightly, because Thibs is known for his team defense. They were 15th in points per game, while 9th on points allowed, I basically see that switched in Hoiberg's system. The one flaw I see is if this team starts the season on a bad note, how they respond. Hoiberg, a younger coach, may not get the respect in the locker room to rally the team with the egos' it currently possesses. Either way, I see this being a more exciting, interesting Bulls team then in years past, expect to see them in the 3-6 range in the East.Resources: Vegasinsider.com