Their preseason expectations weren’t so bad, with Vegas setting the bar at 8-1 to win the NBA finals. An All-Star studded backcourt consisting of 2010 MVP Derrick Rose and young defensive powerhouse Jimmy Butler, looked dominant on paper. Newly signed All-Star Pau Gasol paired up with passing extraordinaire Joakim Noah appeared to be nothing short of monopolizing. Last but not least, veteran “three and d” Mike Dunleavy rounded out this seemingly perfect starting lineup. By individual talent, this was the best Bulls lineup I had lived to see.
Last year’s Bulls started the season off a blazing hot 7-2, with their only losses coming in overtime to division rival and newly formed super-team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and while hosting the Boston Celtics without Rose on a night where they were just completely outshot. Chicago’s next 45 games leading up to the All-Star break went essentially the same way the had, checking in at 34-20.
After the All-Star break was when things got out of hand. While Doug McDermott and the rest of the bench mob was completely healthy, defensive guru Tom Thibodeau decided to run his starters into the ground. The longer this went on, the smaller the Bulls’ championship window shrunk. Every night, Bulls fans grew more and more unhappy with Thibodeau’s minute management.
They finished the season at 50-32, sliding into the playoffs with the third seed in a weak Eastern Conference. After a wild, up and down series with the Bucks, we got the matchup sports aficionados had been waiting for. Down Kevin Love and with a crippled Kyrie Irving, LeBron’s basketball stardom shined in every game of the weak six game series. That was it for the Bulls’ season.
The offseason was nothing different from the rest of the Gar-Pax era’s offseasons. We resigned our veterans and drafted terribly, not even considering our needs. However, after firing Thibs and hiring Hoiberg, hope has been restored to Bulls fans worldwide. With a significant amount of movement in the rest of the NBA, Hoiberg needs to be ready to take on any challenge the Bulls have thrown their way.
Vegas odds are against us at 16-1, and with our championship window closing, the Bulls need to go all out in order to secure the best possible playoff spot. If we can lock up a top three-seed, incorporate our young talent off the bench into our rotation and figure out how to stay healthy, there is no doubt in my mind, that the 2015-16 Chicago Bulls are trophy-bound.