Hello there! For the second consecutive year, I am putting entirely too much effort into previewing the NBA season. Last year, I tried to cram everything into two parts — three, actually, if you include the preview for just the Bulls — but that was impractical and not particularly well organized. This year, we here at Bulls 101 are having a not-very-creatively-named Preview Week. We'll be posting a segment of my ridiculously long preview every morning, starting now with this Bulls-centric portion and then going division by division from there. We'll also continue covering the preseason in between, so don't worry about that.
I'm borrowing a premise that Bill Simmons has used in the past in that I'm attaching each team's preview to a quote that I think conveys something interesting about them. However, to the best of my knowledge, Simmons has never used song lyrics in this format, and he DEFINITELY has never used Gavin DeGraw lyrics. So I guess I'm breaking new ground here. If you don't know who Gavin DeGraw is, he's my favorite musical artist ever, and hopefully you won't hate him at the end of this. His Wikipedia page is here, in case you want more background. Enjoy.
(For reference, all lyric attributions will be of the form "Song title, Album title.")
Last year: 50-16, 1st in Eastern Conference. Lost to Philadelphia 76ers in first round of playoffs, 4-1
If you ask me how I'm doing, I would say I'm doing just fine. I would lie and say that you're not on my mind. But I go out and I sit down at a table set for two, and finally I'm forced to face the truth: No matter what I say, I'm not over you.
– Not Over You, Sweeter
The Bulls season is defined almost entirely by the players who will not be on the court for them, at least to start the year. Derrick Rose has a torn ACL, and it's hard to get past that.
I still remember sitting on my roommate's futon in my dorm room, the Saturday before finals week last year, staring at the TV in shock as Rose writhed on the ground in pain. I'd been at an end of the year party for The State News, Michigan State's student newspaper, the night before, but excused myself (relatively) early so I could actually get some sleep before getting up to watch the Bulls game at noon the next day. Look, it made sense at the time, OK?
In retrospect, I regret the decision.
Not Over You is obviously not about basketball, as you could probably tell from the "table set for two" part of the above quote. But it sums up how I feel about the Bulls this year. Obviously, it's tough to divorce Rose from the Bulls entirely; He's their best player, he's from Chicago, and he is so beloved that immediately after we found out he'd torn his ACL, my first reaction was that I didn't even want the Bulls to make a run at the title without him, because seeing him win the title was as important to me as seeing the Bulls win the title.
But here's the thing: I'm still irrationally excited about the Bulls this year. Yes, they're missing Rose. Yes, the bench kind of sucks now — don't worry, we'll get to them in a minute. But it could be so, so much worse. They still have Tom Thibodeau, and whither Thibs goeth, there also goeth wins. No, they won't win the title unless Rose magically comes back like new in time for the playoffs, which he won't. But nonetheless, they'll play amazing defense, and the offense has looked much better — at least with the starters — than I'd feared.
So, at least for now, if you asked me for my thoughts on the Bulls this year — and by virtue of clicking this link, you already have — I'd talk about defense and Thibs and grinding out enough wins to make the playoffs before I brought up Rose. But in sitting down to write this preview, even before I decided to base it on Gavin DeGraw lyrics, I couldn't stop thinking about Derrick and how unfair it is that he got injured when he did, and that he got injured at all.
So, no matter what else I say, I'm not over Derrick Rose. Or his ACL.
If I had the chance to renew, there isn't a thing I wouldn't do.
Not Over You, Sweeter
Yep, right back to Not Over You. But we're switching gears a little bit with this one. Insert the phrase "your contracts" immediately before the comma in that sentence and I think you'll figure out what I'm talking about.
The Bench Mob of years past was a beautiful thing. Omer Asik, Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and CJ Watson were all great in their roles and wreaked havoc on opposing offenses. They often provided a spark after the starters struggled to get going and changed the complexion of games.
And…then Jerry Reinsdorf decided he wanted to save a few bucks and told all of them — except Taj, obviously — to take a hike. So that he could spend $10.5 million combined on Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli, Vladimir Radmanovic, Nazr Mohammed and Nate Robinson.
I will freely admit that the old bench mob would have cost much more than $10.5 million. But they're also much better players and would not have required the Bulls to sacrifice much of anything beyond a few million in cash. I would even concede that letting Omer walk wasn't a terrible move, in a vacuum. But they've taken a step back in pursuit of extra pocket change and a chance to whiff on more marquee free agents in 2014. I disapprove. I'm not over them, either.
Bonus Bonus Lyric:
I have you to thank for making me so, so hard to please, because you treated me so good.
The astute reader/listener will notice that there's more to that lyric that I cut off because it doesn't make any freaking sense in this context. In my defense, it's not necessary, and again, it absolutely makes no sense here. I'm not being dishonest, I'm just trying to make everyone's lives simpler.
Anyway, I think this is the point we're at as Bulls fans. The successes of the Thibs/Rose era has put us in a position where anything less than a number one seed and a deep playoff run is a severe disappointment. The Bulls could easily end up with a five seed and possibly even make the second round, but that's disappointing because of the last two years. And what's funny is that it kind of is, really, since this would be a great year for the Bulls to tank and end up in the lottery. But they won't, because Thibs is a crazy person and they're just a little too good anyway. Sigh.
Final Prediction: 44-38, sixth in East.
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