The Bulls roster is pretty much set; its been a slow August for NBA news. I don't see much player movement on the horizon until we get to the All-Star break. With things having settled down, its the perfect time for some predictions, via some over / under
Each player has 1 or 2 statistical indicators that will likely determine how effective they will be. Lets try to guess whether Bulls players will meet/exceed expectations or fall short.
Rose: Over/Under 18 points, 7 assist for Rose. I will take the over for pts and for assist. I think Rose will have a big year this year, mostly because the ball will be in his hands 90% of the time. I like what I've heard about him improving his shot. I think he will easilly average 19 to 20 pts. His assist are what worry me. Rose loved to penetrate the lane and kick out to jumpshooters. Well, the Bulls lost their best jump shooter in BG. Still, I expect Rose to habve greater control of the offense and put up big numbers. My prediction Rose 20 pts, 7.3 assist. Over
Salmons: Over/Under 40% from the 3pt line. Salmons has shot over 40% from the 3pt line just once in his career, last year. Prior to last year, the best Salmons shot from the 3pt line was 36% in 06-07. That doesn't bode well for his future prospects as a marksman. Unfortunately, I believe Salmons returns to previous form a bit next year, and shoots 38% from the 3pt line. Under.
Deng: Over/Under 65 games played. Deng has played in over 65 games only twice in his career. Over the last 2 seasons, he has averaged 56 games played. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/d/denglu01.html That is pretty dismal for a guy being paid $12 million a year. Deng still has not fully healed from the stress fracture that kept him off the court from Feb 28th. I don't believe Deng is capable of not getting injured. He really hasn't had a chance to work on his body or improve his strength. I'm sorry to say but I see another injury plagued season. Under - 60 games.
Tyrus Thomas: Over/Under 30 minutes per game. Last year Tyrus averaged 27.5 minutes per game. His minutes per game have increased every year since he has been in the league, going from 13 to 18 to last year at 27.5. (Side note: Its amazing how little time the Bulls have spent trying to develop what was pretty much a #2 pick. 06-07 I can see, Tyrus was a raw talent playing for a 49 win team. But there is no excuse for him not getting more minutes in the 07-08 debacle) Tyrus does have some competition at his position, that he didn't have last year. The Bulls drafted 2 players who could play the power forward (although one looks like a small forward and the other may not be good enough to play) and Deng can also see spot minutes there, especially in VDN's offense. Add in Noah and you have a murky situation at the 4 in regards to minutes. And Tyrus is still inconsistent and reportedly has feuded with VDN
Still, and I don't know why though, but I feel Tyrus is going to have a big year. No one on the Bull is suited to play the 4 as well as Tyrus. He is in a contract year. I think he will get more shots, which should make him happier. And the Bulls really need his athleticism. He has the potential to be a game changer at both ends, and with the Bulls lack of proven depth on the front line, I don't know how the Bulls can keep Tyrus off the court. A motivated Tyrus, with minutes, is a good Tyrus. Over - 32 minutes per game.
Noah: Over/Under 10pts, 10 rebounds. After starting really slowly last season, Noah really came on, culminating in a great playoff series with the Celtics where Noah was arguably the Bulls best player. In that series Noah averaged 10 pts and 13 rebounds, with a PER of 17. However, during the season Noah really didn't come close to reaching either of those numbers. He only averaged 6.7 pts and 7.6 rebounds. Not all that great for a starting center.
Still, Noah is a stat geeks dream. PER loves him. Adjusted +/- loves him. He does all the little things to make a team better. I predict he will start doing some big things too. I will split it - Noah under for pts and over for rebounds, 9 pts and 11 rebounds per game.
Hinrich: Over/Under 15 starts this season. Unlike some of you, I don't think its a done deal that Kurt Hinrich starts the season on the bench. VDN loves him, even if he doesn't know how to pronounce his name. VDN in an interview during summer league said the Bulls have 2 small forwards - Deng and Salmons - and never really mentioned Salmons at guard. We all know Hinrich is going to get major burn next to Rose all season, he is a better defender than Salmons, and VDN is right, Salmons is a natural 3. When you add in the fact that Deng isn't going to be playing a full game and I think it will be way over. Over - Hinrich starts 35 games this season.
Bulls Over/Under: 41 wins. The Bulls finished 41-41 last year, ending the season by managing to string together some wins and taking the Celits to 7. Even with Gordon gone and my doubts about Deng, I will take the over. As the season gets closer, I'm beginning to trick myself into optimism. I have high hopes that Rose will begin to breakout this season and that the front line will turn it around and begin to hold their own. I think Rose, Hinrich, Noah and Tyrus are going to have strong seasons. My biggest concern is Deng. The Bulls need a healthy Deng to really challenge. I hope he can stay healthy this season. If he does, I think the Bulls could surprise and really challenge Atlanta and Washington for the 4th spot. Alas, I don't believe he will be healthy enough. Slightly Over - Bulls 43 wins.