If exhibition basketball meant anything, the Bulls would be favorites to win the NBA title this year. After sporting a solid 4-1 record at Las Vegas Summer League, Derrick Rose and the Bulls have run roughshod through this preseason, beating down almost every opponent with little mercy.
Rose has quelled any doubts about his effectiveness coming back from ACL surgery, posting absurd numbers night after night. In his last three games, Rose has scored 78 points on 34 shots. 78 POINTS ON 34 SHOTS!
Of course, while that's all well and good, things don't truly matter until the postseason. And when it comes to title chances, the Bulls are still looking up at the Heat in the eyes of most, and several other teams according to some.
This can be borne out by the results of the 2013-14 version of the annual GM survey, where all 30 NBA GM's are polled on a variety of questions. The Bulls were well-represented in the survey, but there's only one GM who thinks they'll win it all (Note: GM's can't vote for their own team), and they even fall behind Indiana in the polls. Although I would guess these answers may have been given before Rose went scorched earth this preseason.
Rose naturally shows up quite a bit in these answers, coming in second for point guards behind Chris Paul and earning votes for many of the athleticism based categories (fastest with the ball, most dangerous in the open court, best finisher at the rim, etc.). It was kind of weird that he didn't get votes for most athletic, though. Rose also didn't get any votes for MVP.
Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls' defense got plenty of praise as well, with Thibs being called the coach with the best defensive schemes and the Bulls earning the title of best defensive team. Joakim Noah got in on the defensive fun, getting the second-most votes for best interior defender. Interestingly enough, Noah didn't get any votes for best defensive player in the league and also didn't crack the top four for centers.
A few other Bulls notes from the survey: The acquisition of Mike Dunleavy was viewed as one of the most underrated this offseason, while Dunleavy also got a vote as a guy who would be a really good coach once he retires. Luol Deng got some votes for his off-ball movement, and Nikola Mirotic was named best international prospect not in the NBA. Finally, Adrian Griffin and Gar Forman hater Ron Adams received votes for best assistant (Adams is strangely still listed as a Bulls coach).
It's also worth noting that NBA GM's don't seem to be as high on Jimmy Butler as us and much of the blogging community. Butler didn't show up anywhere, not even in the section for likely breakout players, that for some reason included guys like James Harden, Kevin Love, Paul George and Kyrie Irving. Because I guess those guys haven't broken out yet? GMs sure are funny sometimes.
Here's a few other links to read as we creep closer and closer to the season (ONE WEEK):
- Grantland's Zach Lowe continues his marvelous season preview work, with his latest highlighting 32 bold predictions for the upcoming year. His Bulls entry? On the potentially devastating lineup of Rose/Butler/Deng/Gibson/Noah. This is the crew many of us envision the Bulls closing with throughout the year, and Lowe predicts they'll hold opponents to less than 90 points per 100 possessions. That lineup should really be a killer defensively, but if they can score efficiently as well, the Bulls will really be in great shape. Now we just need to get all those guys on the floor together.
- The Bulls recently just came in at No. 2 on Grantland's League Pass Rankings, but CBS Sports' Matt Moore has a different take. Moore says the Bulls are the top team to avoid on League Pass due to several factors: a not-so-exciting-offense (I think he may end up being wrong about this), lots of blowouts, lots of national TV games and of course, the local broadcasting team (this is a bit more merely implied).
- Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie has been doing season previews, and their Bulls entry came over the weekend. Noted Bulls guy Kelly Dwyer pegs Chicago at 56 wins, while Dan Devine focuses on what will be an improved offensive attack and Eric Freeman takes a brief look at the Butler/Deng relationship.
- SBNation bro-site Canis Hoopus also published a laudatory Bulls preview over the weekend.
- Hardwood Paroxysm just released their season preview, a mammoth 221-page piece that's truly a must-read for hoops junkies. There's a little bit of everything in there, from picks (12 out of 16 contributors pick Pacers to win the Central) to general previews to long form pieces to re-worded song lyrics which are pretty hilarious. The Bulls' section is solid as expected, but I also really enjoyed Ian Levy's long form on possible foils for LeBron James, which include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George...and Jimmy Butler. This preview does cost money, but it's only 99 cents unless you want it on Kindle, in which case it's $1.99. Well worth it.
- ESPN's #NBARank has been causing quite the stir (KOBE AT 25!), which is always funny to me. But if y'all want some more stuff to get angry about, Irving placed at No. 8, one spot ahead of Rose. Russell Westbrook is at No. 5.